1st (6) Marchand D'Or 5-2 Fav
Jockey Davy Bonilla produced 5/2 favourite Marchand d’Or with a perfectly timed challenge to land the feature race of the Ritz Club July Festival, the Group One Darley July Cup.
For winning trainer Freddie Head it was a unique double, having won the race as a jockey in 1996 on Anabaa and then saddling the grey son of Marchand de Sable to success in the £400,000 contest.
Towards the rear of the 13 runners in the six-furlong contest, Bonilla left his challenge as late as possible and only just got his head in front at the line to deny US Ranger and longtime leader War Artist by a head and half a length.
“I’m delighted! For me it’s a great thrill having won it as a jockey and now as a trainer. You can’t ask for more and I love the horse. He’s not the best ride you can find and he’s a bit difficult to ride but Davy gave him a good ride. He waited and the horse has got a tremendous turn of foot. I thought we were fourth so when I heard the result I was quite happy!” said a delighted Head.
“I wanted him to wait because at Ascot he came out too quick and was very keen all the way. He got into a bit of trouble and he doesn’t like that. He likes to be on his own, that’s how he won at Chantilly and all the big races he’s won, he’s won them that way.
“We had to wait with him. He didn’t have the best of draws but finally he got there - it was quite frightening. I thought he didn’t have enough time to come and win but he’s good, he’s good!
“It is definitely revenge for Ascot. I knew at Ascot something happened - he didn’t run his race, he wasn’t even blowing after the race. I don’t know what happened but he’s a super horse, no doubt.
“At the moment we’re going to go for Deauville and run in the race he’s won twice, the Prix Maurice de Gheest, and then maybe come back to Haydock and have our revenge!
“The ground was perfect for him today. As long as it’s not too firm it’s okay. He doesn’t need soft ground but he’s won over seven furlongs, five furlongs and any going, he’s a very versatile horse.
“I had a lot of problems through last year and that’s why I think he’s a much better horse this year. With age, I think he’s even faster than he was at three.”
Bonilla added: “He’s a great horse but of course he’s not easy to ride because he needs to be relaxed and he cannot stay behind a long time, but today was okay.
“I thought we had won. The more pace and the quicker the race, the better for him and he was probably better this time.
“The pace was quite fast and I didn’t want to get into a battle with the jockey who was in front of me. I took him back because I didn’t want to fight like I did last time at Ascot and he was much more relaxed this time. I rode him the way I wanted to ride him.”
RANGER AND ASTRONOMER PLEASE O’BRIEN
Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien was very satisfied with the performances of US Ranger and Astronomer Royal, second and fourth respectively in the highlight of the Ritz Club July Festival, the £400,000 Darley July Cup.
Of the head runner-up US Ranger, O’Brien said: “He ran a good race and is really coming forward now.
“I don’t know where he would go next. He is in all the big sprints and we will take a look.
“The horse is starting to learn about sprinting.”
Of Astronomer Royal, the Ballydoyle handler opined: “He is another horse who is starting to get it together over sprint distances now.”
Johnny Murtagh, rider of US Ranger added: “He ran a great race but it was the last 50 yards that got me.”
Astronomer Royal’s jockey Ryan Moore commented: “He ran a great race.”
SO CLOSE AGAIN FOR ARTIST
War Artist ran a brave race to finish third, beaten a head and half a length and his trainer James Eustace was pleased if slightly frustrated.
The Newmarket handler said: “He ran a great race.
“He deserves to win a big race, after his run at Royal Ascot and again today.
“Ascot was great but watching him out there today was pretty tough.
“I think that today he showed real speed. Kerrin (McEvoy) said he settled well and was cantering at one stage. It’s just that obviously in a race like this you are up against Group One horses.
“I have put him in the Nunthorpe over five furlongs at York and that is a possibility as he certainly isn’t getting slower.
“The other option is to go abroad for one of the Global Sprint Challenge races later in the year. If we decided to go down that route he would need to take a break now. We just need to sit down and make a plan.
“The horse is very consistent and I am lucky to have him.”
SANDERS, DETTORI REACTION
Seb Sanders, the jockey on fifth-placed Kingsgate Native, said: “He’s run somewhere near his Ascot form but when I asked the question he just didn’t pick up.”
Frankie Dettori, who partnered sixth-placed Diabolical, opined: “That was good. It was a big improvement on his last run. I just had to check and it has cost me a place.”
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