Alcohol Free is toast of July Cup

12 Jul 22

Saturday’s 6f Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket produced the clash of generations I wrote about in the Royal Ascot blog and it’s fair to say that experience won out over youth, with the older horses dominating proceedings on the July course.

Heading the market was the three-year-old Perfect Power, impressive winner of the Commonwealth Cup and aiming to make it four wins at the highest level. However, it wasn’t to be his day, he was off the pace throughout, and never really threatened to get involved. His jockey reported he was never travelling and cited the quick conditions as probably the reason for his defeat.

His win in the Commonwealth Cup had been franked the day before by Flotus’s clear-cut success in the Group 3 Summer Stakes at York. Perfect Power will retain his rating of 117 and let’s hope he bounces back from this in the remaining Group 1 sprints this season.

Back at the business end of the race, the form of the Platinum Jubilee held up well though with a somewhat different finishing order than we saw on the Berkshire track. On this occasion, the admirable four-year-old filly Alcohol Free reversed form with the first three home at Ascot, in the process showing herself back to her very best and highlighting her versatility having been successful at this level over a mile.

Tracking the solid fractions set by Platinum Jubilee winner Naval Crown, she stayed on strongly up the hill to win by a length and a half from him, with the sole Australian challenger Artorius a further half a length back in third, occupying the same position as at Ascot. Back in fourth was Creative Force, who couldn’t quite replicate his Platinum Jubilee runner-up finish under this sharper test. Indeed, he ran to an almost identical level as he did under similar conditions in last year’s July Cup, and to date his very best form remains at Ascot.

Having been successful at Group 1 level at two, three and four years old, Alcohol Free recorded a rating of 119, on a par with what she achieved in winning the Sussex and Coronation Stakes last season. This means that Naval Crown replicated his 118 from Ascot, and Artorius his 116. As for Creative Force, I’ve marginally adjusted his rating to 117 from 118, to reflect what he’s achieved this season. Overall, the form has a solid look to it and is well up to the standard expected for a July Cup.

Alcohol Free now reportedly heads to Goodwood to defend her Sussex Stakes crown against the imperious Baaeed so it remains to be seen whether we’ll see her tackling a top sprint again this season.