Dutch Art's Starman On Top In The July Cup

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Starman | PA Sport

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With the weather staying clear ahead of Saturday's G1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket, David Ward's Starman (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) had his day to deliver on all the abundant promise he had shown so far in his brief career in a strong renewal. Successful in the May 12 G2 Duke of York S. over this six-furlong trip, the 9-2 second favourite was buried in mid-division of the group racing stand's side throughout the early stages with the pace rapid up ahead. Staying on powerfully up the rising ground to collar the far-rail runner Art Power (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) in the final 50 yards, he hit the line with 1 1/4 lengths to spare over the 7-2 favourite Dragon Symbol (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}), with last year's winner Oxted (GB) (Mayson {GB}) a short head behind in third as the stand's-side contingent swallowed up the game long-time leader Art Power in the dying strides. Jockey Tom Marquand was full of praise for the winner. “This lad is as close to a racecar as you can get,” he said. “He was pretty exceptional and you have to put him in the top tier of European sprinting after that–it was an incredible performance.”

This was an epic renewal of the July Cup, with what had already looked a stellar race on paper played out in reality on the famed Suffolk heathland. As the speedball Art Power was steered to the far rail by Silvestre de Sousa to head off last year's G1 Middle Park S. hero Supremacy (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) and gain the early advantage, the reigning G1 Qipco British Champions Sprint S. hero Glen Shiel (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) ploughed his furrow up the centre dragging Oxted along in his slipstream. On the stand's side, the exciting 3-year-olds Dragon Symbol and Creative Force (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) followed the tempo set by the outsider Good Effort (Ire) (Shamardal) along with Starman but the latter was outpaced even before halfway with the heat still on full up front. Heading past two out, calling the winner was impossible with a line of sprinters giving their all across the track but Art Power was in no mood to surrender, Oxted was drifting right and TDN Rising Star Dragon Symbol had gained the lead on his side.

Starman had been under the pump a long way before he came steaming through to join Art Power, Glen Shiel, Oxted and Dragon Symbol with 150 yards remaining as the cream rose to the top. In a finish where ultimately only the proven group 1 horses were a factor, Starman who had been denied the opportunity to show himself to be in that category by the deluge that hit Royal Ascot was the one who emerged clear best. Creative Force was staying on strongly at the death along with the race's stalwart Brando (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), but it was the Ed Walker trainee who was heading up a star cast for one of the finest shows of sprinting prowess this track has witnessed.

“The last few days, everyone has been coming in saying it is one of the best July Cups we have seen for a good while,” Marquand said. “For a horse that has had six runs, I thought he showed relative signs of inexperience still but that turn of foot he showed up the hill was nothing short of top-class. He has always felt like he's not done an awful lot in front, so maybe he was just idling until I got there and it sort of flattered the winning distance a little bit. On the July Course, you have those undulations and to be honest it felt like it caught him out a bit at the three pole. Just as things started changing at the three he got a little bit unbalanced and done for a bit of toe, but as soon as he levelled off and worked into top gear there was never a moment that I didn't think I was going to get there, which is a rare feeling in a top-class race like that.”

Introduced almost a year ago to the day, Starman opened his account on Lingfield's Polytrack before impressing when following up at Doncaster in August with the runners-up in both contests being the eventual Wokingham H. second and third Fresh (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) and King's Lynn (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}). Dismissing the York specialist Dakota Gold (GB) (Equiano {Fr}) in that track's Listed Garrowby S. the following month, he was unable to feature when beating only two home in the G1 Qipco British Champions Sprint S. on Ascot's rain-hit champions day card but had regained momentum in the Duke of York as if the latter experience was just a figment of Walker's imagination.

That trainer was enjoying a breakthrough first group 1 winner and said, “It's taken its time, but better late than never as they say. I always believed so much in this horse. I put a lot of pressure on myself and it's great that belief has been vindicated. His only blip was on bad ground at Ascot last season and we've been proved to have made the right call in missing the Royal meeting. I hoped he'd win a group 1 and we dreamed that he'll be a sprinter of a generation. A horse that was going through the grades as quickly as he was, you have to dream. They're all champions when they walk into the yard, but this horse has never let us down.”

Walker also has the recent G3 Sandown Sprint S. winner Came From the Dark (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), but he made it clear that they would be kept apart. “In my mind, they're not in the same league,” he said. “He's a very good horse Came From the Dark, but this guy has that brilliance. Came From the Dark has got guts and battles it out. I think Came From the Dark is more of a five-furlong horse whereas with this guy, it looks like six is the absolute minimum. We'll look at the [Sept. 4 G1 Haydock] Sprint Cup and the [G1] Prix Maurice de Gheest [at Deauville Aug. 8]. For the first time ever in watching him it wasn't happening. I was feeling sorry for myself at the three pole thinking 'more bad luck in big races'. I watched down at the one pole and as they came past me I thought he has still got quite a bit of ground to make up here but he did it.”

Owner-breeder David Ward added, “He's probably a horse of a lifetime. He was just the second horse I've bred. We always believed he was a seriously talented horse and he is.” Oisin Murphy, who rode the winner in the Duke of York but who committed to the runner-up this time, said, “I'm thrilled for Ed Walker. I was given the choice and I picked the wrong one, but I'm thrilled for their team and they're having a fantastic season. I hope Dragon Symbol will get his day, we could well look to France next potentially for the Prix Maurice de Gheest.”

Starman becomes the fourth group 1 winner for Cheveley Park Stud's resident Dutch Art (GB), who was second in this in 2007 and whose previous best was the 2014 July Cup hero Slade Power (Ire). He is also the second foal out of the 10-furlong winner Northern Star (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}), a €50,000 Goffs Orby yearling in 2011 whose first was the G3 Oh So Sharp S. and G3 Summer S. third Sunday Star (GB) (Kodiac {GB}). Northern Star is kin to the GII Tampa Bay Derby winner and GI Arkansas Derby runner-up King Guillermo (Uncle Mo) and is a granddaughter of the stakes scorer Slow Down (Seattle Slew) who produced the G3 La Coupe scorer Slow Pace (Distorted Humor) and his GIII Pat Day Mile-winning full-brother Funny Duck. The fourth dam is the GI Beverly Hills H. heroine Corrazona (El Gran Senor), a half to the GI Wood Memorial-winning sire Thirty Six Red (Slew O'Gold). Northern Star's currently last known foal is an unraced 3-year-old filly by Kingman (GB) named Lodestar (GB).

Saturday, Newmarket, Britain
DARLEY JULY CUP S.-G1, £510,750, Newmarket, 7-10, 3yo/up, 6fT, 1:10.11, g/f.
1–STARMAN (GB), 132, c, 4, by Dutch Art (GB)
1st Dam: Northern Star (Ire), by Montjeu (Ire)
2nd Dam: Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band
3rd Dam: Slow Down, by Seattle Slew
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O/B-David Ward (GB); T-Ed Walker; J-Tom Marquand. £289,646. Lifetime Record: 6-5-0-0, $521,936. *1/2 to Sunday Star (GB) (Kodiac {GB}), MGSP-Eng. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Dragon Symbol (GB), 126, c, 3, Cable Bay (Ire)–Arcamist (GB), by Arcano (Ire). (67,000gns Ylg '19 TAOCT). O-Yoshiro Kubota; B-Whitsbury Manor Stud (GB); T-Archie Watson. £109,811.
3–Oxted (GB), 132, g, 5, Mayson (GB)–Charlotte Rosina (GB), by Choisir (Aus). (£400,000 RNA 3yo '19 GOFLON). O-S Piper, T Hirschfeld, D Fish & J Collins; B-Homecroft Wealth Racing (GB); T-Roger Teal. £54,957.
Margins: 1 1/4, NO, NK. Odds: 4.50, 3.50, 5.50.
Also Ran: Art Power (Ire), Creative Force (Ire), Glen Shiel (GB), Brando (GB), Garrus (Ire), Chil Chil (GB), Rohaan (Ire), Emaraaty Ana (GB), Glorious Journey (GB), Line of Departure (Ire), Extravagant Kid, Supremacy (Ire), Method (Ire), Summerghand (Ire), Miss Amulet (Ire), Good Effort (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

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