- When: 11th to 13th July 2024
- Where: Newmarket July Course, Suffolk
- Watch: Most races live on ITV
- Official Website: Newmarket Racecourses
The July Festival at Newmarket is widely thought of as one of the most glamorous racing events in the UK. But, behind all the razzmatazz of the racing and social scene, the festival probably does more than most when it comes to fundraising and helping charitable causes. They often mention both ‘Fundraising’ and ‘Fund-Giving’ in their marketing material, but don’t think that this overshadows the racing in any way, it merely runs alongside.
The biggest race of the three days comes in the form of the July Cup which takes place on the Saturday. This is a world class six furlong sprint worthy of its substantial prize fund.
The supporting cast of races across the three days also deserve attention, here we’ll take a look at the main races as well as guiding you towards the best betting offers available at the July Festival.
Existing Customer Free Bets & Money Back Offers
Note: Offers will appear here nearer the event as and when they become available.
Newmarket July Festival Betting Tips
Please note: The following tips are for 2023 and will be updated shortly before the event starts.
The summer Flat season is in full swing and, as ever, the 2023 edition of this excellent meeting looks set to provide a mixture of competitive handicapping contests and high-class Group race entertainment. With a number of the stars of the early summer months set to strut their stuff once more, we should be in for a fabulous few days of racing.
The Falmouth Stakes for the fillies and the July Cup for the speedballs take centre stage, but there’s plenty more to look forward to besides that Group 1 double act. Here we take a look at how things are shaping up in seven of the biggest betting events of what promises to be a brilliant festival.
Thursday 13th July, 3:00pm
The three-year-old sprinters lock horns in the big handicap on the opening day, with a maximum field of 20 set to do battle over 6f of the July Course. Attempting to whittle down that list of runners is no easy task, but when zeroing in on your selections, there are two trends to bear in mind as a first port of call. Firstly, nine of the past 10 winners have been saddled with 8st12lb or less on the day, and secondly, eight of the last 10 to come home in front have emerged from stall 12 or above.
The draw is yet to be made, but interesting contenders that fall into the preferred weight category include Frankness, who goes for a trainer in Andrew Balding, who landed this prize in both 2016 and 2018, the hattrick-seeking Be Frank from the yard of Henry Candy, and the Clive Cox-trained Eminency, who has been running consistently well all season.
Princess Of Wales’s Stakes
Thursday 13th July, 3:35pm
With the Prince Of Wales having a race named in his honour at the Royal Ascot Festival, it is only fair that the Princess gets a contest in her honour too, and it comes here in this 1m4f Group 2 affair. This looks like a strong race for fans of trainer trends, with nine of the past 10 editions having been won by either Mark Johnston or one of the two Godolphin handlers, Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor.
Charlie Appleby has a clutch of eye-catching contenders amongst the current list of entries, including recent Fred Archer Stakes winner Kemari, 2022 St. Leger runner-up New London, defending champion in this race Yibir, and 2021 Epsom Derby hero Adayar. With Saeed bin Suroor swerving the race, Appleby covers the Godolphin angle this year.
Mark Johnston has now stepped down, but his son Charlie has taken over the reins at Middleham and has two interesting entries, in the shape of Derby also-ran Dear My Friend and the unexposed Knockbrex. Others to note in what has the potential to be a cracking renewal are the 2022 Derby second, Westover, and the star of the Owen Burrows yard, Hukum.
Friday 14th June, 1:50pm
Another handicap affair restricted to the three-year-olds kicks off an excellent Friday card, with a degree of both speed and stamina required in this 1m2f event. Mark Johnston has been the dominant force amongst the trainers here, with four successive wins between 2013 and 2016, and further victories in 2018 and 2020. No surprise then that Charlie Johnston has no fewer than eight runners holding an entry at the time of writing. That battalion are spearheaded by Dear My Friend, for whom this could more be a more realistic assignment, having fallen well short in the Derby.
Charlie Appleby won this with a Dubawi colt in 2022 and has another at the head of the weights this time around in Local Dynasty. Having run a cracker under a big weight at the Royal meeting, he seems set to put up another bold show. Burdett Road won that Ascot event and will likely prove popular with punters as he bids to land the hat-trick from this 6lb higher mark. Other standouts include Dragon Icon, who heads here from the German 2000 Guineas, and Sir Michael Stoute’s Perfuse, who drops back in trip having failed to stay the 1m4f of the King George V Stakes at Ascot.
Friday 14th July, 3:00pm
Another Newmarket July Festival race, and another in which Mark Johnston boasts a tremendous record. Famed for his prowess as a trainer of stayers, Johnston has landed three of the five editions of this 1m6f event since it was added to the programme in 2018 – most recently when sending out last year's winner Soapy Stevens in partnership with son Charlie.
Flying the flag for team Johnston in 2023 are last-time-out winners Dubai Leader, Knightswood, and Pons Aelius, the consistent duo of Haizoom and La Pulga, and the talented but seemingly out-of-form Themaxwecan. Those are sure to attract plenty of attention collectively, with Dubai Leader looking most interesting.
Nate The Great heads the weights, having run a great race for a 50/1 shot when fifth in the Ascot Gold Cup last time out, whilst Omniscient looks interesting for the shrewd Sir Mark Prescott following his creditable effort in the Northumberland Plate. And don’t discount a bounce-back performance from Northumberland Plate disappointment Law Of The Sea, whose sire Golden Horn is proving to be a good source of talented staying performers.
Friday 14th July, 3:35pm
The first of the week’s Group 1 events lights up the Friday card as a talented field of fillies and mares go for glory over the straight mile. John & Thady Gosden’s Inspiral is the clear favourite at around the 7/4 mark, following her narrow second in the Queen Anne Stakes. The daughter of Frankel brings the best overall level of form to the table, but supporters will be hoping for better than her effort in this race in 2022, which saw her turned over at odds of just 1/7! Ralph Beckett’s Prosperous Voyage was the filly to beat her that day and returns to defend her crown. At a general 8/1, she seems likely to be a popular each-way option.
Others for the shortlist include George Boughey’s late-blooming Via Sistina (11/4), who bolted up in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on her most recent outing, and Ralph Beckett’s Coronation Stakes runner-up Remarquee (5/1). Aidan O’Brien’s Meditate (12/1), hasn’t quite found her stride this season but is a Group 1 winner over this distance and is another that will appeal to many.
Saturday 15th July, 4:00pm
Having introduced both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas to the Newmarket schedule, Sir Charles Bunbury deserves to have a race named in his honour, and he gets it with this competitive handicap affair held over the intermediate trip of 7f. Invariably attracting a near-maximum field of 20, runners in the top half of the weights have fared best in recent years, with nine of the past 10 winners saddled with 9st or more on the day. The draw is again worth bearing in mind, with the overall trend suggesting that high numbers are favoured. Indeed, seven of the last 10 winners have come from stall 10 or above.
The Simon & Ed Crisford-trained Awaal currently heads the betting at 10/1 in a wide-open heat and boasts solid claims, certainly if reproducing the form of his third-placed effort in the Royal Hunt Cup last time out. Croupier (12/1), meanwhile, provides a strong second string to the Crisford bow, having been just touched off in the Buckingham Palace Stakes. Towards the head of the weights, the John & Thady Gosden-trained Audience (12/1) suggested that a mark of 107 may not be beyond him when winning well in Listed company on his seasonal return. If opting to drop back into handicap company, he could be the horse to provide the soon-to-be-retired Frankie Dettori with the chance to win this race for the fourth time in eight years.
Saturday 15th July, 4:35pm
Last but by no means least, the big one, as a field of crack sprinters takes to the track for one of the most prestigious 6f contests of the entire season. Heading the betting this year is the remarkable Shaquille (5/2) from the Julie Camacho operation. As recently as last October, this son of Charm Spirit sat on a mark of 84, with only a pair of novice wins and a last-of-nine finish in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes to his name.
Four starts and four wins later, he is now rated 117. Opting to give the others a head start when rearing in the stalls in the Commonwealth Cup, he still mowed them all down inside the final furlong to win by a cosy 1¼l. Improving at a rate of knots, he tackles his elders for the first time here but rates a major threat to all.
Next in line comes Commonwealth Cup runner-up Little Big Bear (7/2), who goes for five-time winner of the race Aidan O’Brien. Run down late by Shaquille at Ascot, he may be held onto a little longer in the rematch and could gain revenge.
Michael Dods has proven a dab hand with sprinters over the years but is yet to count a July Cup amongst his haul. The four-year-old filly, Azure Blue (5/1), is tasked with putting that right in 2023 and, as a previous course and distance winner arriving on a four-race winning streak, she merits the utmost respect and has most obvious appeal.
Further down the list, Henry Candy’s Run To Freedom (33/1) looks like an interesting each-way contender, having lost all chance when blowing the start in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes. Still managing to finish within 6l of the winner, he could hit the frame if getting things right at the stalls.
July Festival Key Race Results (2023)
|Thu||Bahrain Trophy Stakes||Castle Way||Tower Of London||Saint George|
|Thu||July Stakes||Jasour||Lake Forst||Toca Madera|
|Thu||Princess Of Wales’s Stakes||Israr||Adayar||Global Storm|
|Thu||Sir Henry Cecil Stakes||Nostrum||Embesto||New Endeavour|
|Fri||Duchess Of Cambridge St.||Persian Dreamer||Star Of Mystery||Woodhay Wonder|
|Fri||Falmouth Stakes||Nashwa||Remarquee||Via Sistina|
|Sat||Superlative Stakes||City Of Troy||Haatem||Oddyssey|
|Sat||Bunbury Cup||Biggles||Ropey Guest||Awaal|
|Sat||July Cup||Shaquille||Run To Freedom||Kinross|
Thursday 11th July 2024
- 1:50pm – Bahrain Trophy Stakes (Group 3)
- 2:25pm – Bahrain Turf Club July Stakes (Group 2)
- 3:00pm – bet365 Handicap
- 3:35pm – Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 2)
- 4:10pm – British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes
- 4:45pm – Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes (Listed)
- 5:20pm – Racing Welfare Handicap
Friday 12th July 2024
- 1:50pm – bet365 Handicap
- 2:25pm – Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2)
- 3:00pm – bet365 Trophy
- 3:35pm – Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes (Group 1)
- 4:10pm – Weatherbys British EBF Maiden Stakes
- 4:45pm – Racing TV Handicap
- 5:20pm – Home Of Racing Handicap
Saturday 13th July 2024
- 1:40pm – Rossdales British EBF Maiden Stakes
- 2:15pm – Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa Fillies’ Handicap
- 2:50pm – bet365 Mile Handicap
- 3:25pm – bet365 Superlative Stakes (Group 2)
- 4:00pm – bet365 Bunbury Cup
- 4:35pm – Pertemps Network July Cup Stakes (Group 1)
- 5:10pm – Discover Newmarket Handicap
Please note that the above schedule is subject to confirmation
About Newmarket’s July Festival
As the name suggests, the event takes place at the world famous Newmarket track on their July Course. The venue holds a capacity crowd of 45,000 people for each of the three days of racing. The festival gets underway in early July, but this has been known to change, depending on other events at the racecourse. It is known for popular music events to be hosted at Newmarket, with other music festivals also held there throughout the year.
The first racing festival of the year at the July Course is known as the July Meeting and it’s believed that it was first held back in 1765. If true, that would make it one of the oldest of its type in the UK. Over the three days there are a number of high quality races, including two Group 1 races, of which we will talk about more in the next section.
As we mention, the meeting only uses the July Course for this event as opposed to the Rowley Mile Course. The July Course spans just over 2 miles in total. The first mile is made up of the Cesarewitch Course before turning at a right angle in a dogleg towards the stands, joining the straight Bunbury Mile on the home straight. It is one of the fastest in the UK and makes for some thrilling racing. It’s also worth noting that all of the most of the races are run at 1m or less, making them fast and furious, to say the least.
More About The Meeting & Format
Though Newmarket is perhaps better known as being the home of two of British racing’s five Classics, the 1,000 Guineas and the 2,000 Guineas, the July Meeting shouldn’t be underestimated. For starters, it’s got a decent history to speak of, given that it was inaugurated back in 1765. As mentioned before, the event takes place exclusively on the July Course, which is sometimes referred to as the Summer Course.
The course itself has a 1 mile straight section, the Bunbury Mile, giving birth to some extremely quick races on account of the fact that there is a long downhill stretch after the first two furlongs have been completed. The final furlong is uphill, giving the horses the opportunity to use their momentum to carry them over the finish line.
Only the July Course is used for the festival, though there are a number of other meetings that are held on it in the summer months. Live music follows after the racing in a popular events known as the Newmarket Nights.
In June 2000 a light aircraft containing the jockeys Ray Cochrane and Frankie Dettori took off form the airstrip attached to the course and crashed, killing the pilot Patrick Mackey and forcing Cochrane to retire from his injuries.
The festival lasts for three days and the organisers try to spread the highest quality races over its duration. The two highlights are the Darley July Cup, which is ran on the Saturday, and the Falmouth Stakes that takes place on the Friday. They are the only Group 1 showings through the meeting.
- Thursday, Ladies Day: The event gets underway on the Thursday, which is known as Ladies Day. Like most types of meeting with a Ladies Day, it’s often thought of as a more relaxed atmosphere where punters are encouraged to don their Sunday Best. The Bahrain Trophy is the first high quality race of the meeting, which is a Group 3 race run over 1m 5f. The day also features the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, the July Stakes and the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes, combining into a great day of racing.
- Festival Friday: Festival Friday, previously Feel Good Friday and Abu Dhabi Day, see’s the first of the bigger races throughout the meeting in the form of the Falmouth Stakes. This is a Group 1 race and is run over 1m. Some of the highest profile horses to win this race include Timepiece, Goldikova, Soviet Song, Proudwings and Sonic Lady.
- Saturday, Darley July Cup Day: The Saturday is referred to as ‘Darley July Cup Day’ on account of the fact that it’s the day on which the prestigious Group 1 race the Darley July Cup takes place. In the past, the race has a total purse of £628,500, with over £350,000 going to winner. Ran over six furlongs, the race is as exhilarating as you’re going to find in the flat season. Some notable winners from the past include Lethal Force, Les Arcs, Slade Power and Fleeting Spirit, to name but a few.
A Closer Look at the Feature Races
As with any horse racing Festival, there are many excellent races to get excited about. Obviously they’ve been mentioned in passing moments ago, but there’s far more to learn about some of them. Even the most unassuming of races can sometimes have stories worth telling. Here’s what we can tell you about each of them:
The Bahrain Trophy
Flat racing is far more fast and frantic than jump racing, lending itself to younger horses. It’s not overly surprising, therefore, that many of the big flat races are only open to three-year-olds, which is the case here. The race takes place over a distance of one mile and five furlongs and records on it date back to 1986. It used to be called the H & K Commissions Handicap but it was given its current name in 1991. That was a year after it was made a Listed race.
In 2006 the race’s length was cut down to what it currently is, having been run over one mile, six furlongs and one hundred and seventy-five yards. Three years later and it was moved to Group 3 status. Nowadays it’s one of the races that is considered to be a stepping stone to the St. Leger. With seven wins, Frankie Dettori is the race’s most successful jockey. John Gosden is the trainer who has won the most times, racking up five victories to date.
The Princess of Wales’s Stakes
Having seen its inaugural race run in 1894, the Princess of Wales’s Stakes is one of the oldest races at Newmarket. It’s named after Alexandra of Denmark who became the Princess of Wales in 1863. Unlike the other races we’ve told you about thus far, this one is open to horses aged three and up. Initially ran over a mile, it moved to its current length of one mile and four furlongs in 1902.
The race gained its Group 2 status in 1978 and has weight allowances of eight stone four pound for three-year-olds and nine stone two pounds for horses aged four and over. There’s also a three pound allowance for fillies and mares. Five different horses have won the race twice, with Lance Chest doing so in 1912 and 1913 and Big Orange being the most recent to do so in 2015 and 2016. Lester Piggott is the best jockey with eight wins, whilst Sir Michael Stoute has been the winning trainer on a record nine occasions.
The July Stakes
The July Stakes is open to the youngest horses so far, with two-year-old colts and geldings able to enter. It is run over six furlongs and has a weight limit of nine stone. The race is the oldest surviving one for two-year-olds, having been established in 1786. Back then it was open to horses of any sex but the restrictions were introduced in 1977. Interestingly, horses sired by Eclipse or Highflyer had to carry an additional penalty weight of three pounds when the race was first established.
Two jockeys have won the race six times, with George Fordham doing so between 1861 and 1878 and Sir Gordon Richards managing it from 1934 to 1954. Frank Butters is the race’s leading trainer, being victorious on seven different occasions. As with other races, the fact that only horses of a specific age can run in it means that no horse has won it more than once.
The Sir Henry Cecil Stakes
A Listed flat race that is open to three-year-olds, the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes was first run in 2007. Back then it was known as the Xplor Conditions Stakes and became the Stubbs Stakes in 2013. That was the same year that it gained its Listed status, if you’re interest. The following year it was given its current title, named after the flat racing trainer Sir Henry Cecil who was Champion Trainer ten times.
The race lasts for one mile and has a weight limit of nine stone and three pounds with a five pound allowance for fillies. Obviously the fact that the race is only for three-year-olds means that no horse has won it more than once. The jockey Richard Hughes has been victorious twice, however, with his first win coming for the trainer Richard Hannon Senior and then his second for his son, Richard Hannon Junior. John Egan has also has two wins a jockey in 2007 and 2018 as has Jim Crowley in 2017 and 2021, Frankie Dettori in 2009 and 2022 and Ryan Moore in 2014 and 2023. Interestingly, the winner of the race receives a rose from the Warren Place garden that belonged to Sir Henry.
The Falmouth Stakes
The Falmouth Stakes is one of the most open races at the July Festival, and is a race for fillies and mares aged three and up. It is a Group 1 race that lasts for one mile and was first raced in 1911. The race is named after the 6th Viscount of Falmouth, Evelyn Boscawen. She was a well-known racecourse breeder and owner in the nineteenth century.
There have been a few interesting moments during its history, including the fact that it was known as the Child Stakes in 1975 after it took on the sponsorship of Child’s Bank. It became a Group 2 race in 1987 and then a Group 1 race in 2004. Two horses have won it twice, namely Sonic Lady and Soviet Song. Lester Piggott has won the race seven times, more than any other jockey. Sir Michael Stoute and Alec Taylor, Jr. have both won it six times as trainers.
The Duchess of Cambridge Stakes
This race is the equivalent of the The July Stakes but it’s for fillies rather than colts and geldings. It was originally named the Cherry Hinton Stakes when it was established in 1947. Having been a Group 3 race, it became a Group 2 offering in 1996. It is a race that can give you some hints about the horses that will compete in the following year’s 1,000 Guineas.
The race was given its current name in 2013, matching a decision for the Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot to become the Duke of Cambridge Stakes to celebrate William and Kate marrying two years before. Walter Swinburn and Frankie Dettori have both won the race five times as jockeys, whilst both Sir Henry Cecil and Sir Michael Stoute have managed four wins as trainers.
The Superlative Stakes
Run over seven furlongs, the Superlative Stakes is for two-year-old horses with a weight limit of nine stone and one pound and a three pound allowance for fillies. The race was known as the Bernard van Cutsem Stakes in honour of the successful racehorse owner who passed away in 1975. It got its current title in 1991 in order to honour Superlative, who won the July Stakes eight years earlier.
Having held Listed status, the race became a Group 3 in 2003 then a Group 2 race three years later. Since 1986, three jockeys have won the race four times: Steve Cauthen, Pat Eddery and Richard Hughes. Sir Henry Cecil, meanwhile, is the race’s leading trainer having won it nine times between 1986 and 2000.
Open to horses aged three-years-old and up, the Bunbury Cup takes place over seven furlongs. It is named after the man who was the Senior Steward for the Jockey Club and introduced both the 1,000 Guineas and the 2,000 Guinea to Newmarket, Sir Charles Bunbury.
A handicap race, the most successful horse since records were kept in 1962 is Mine, who won it in 2002, 2005 and 2006. As with so many flat races, the most successful jockey is Lester Piggott, who was victorious seven times, including back-to-back wins on En Attendant in 1993 and 1994. Michael Jarvis, James Bethell and Richard Fahey have won the race three times apiece as trainers.
Unquestionably the most prestigious race of the week, the July Cup is considered to be one of the best sprint races in the British calendar. It was first run in 1876 and the winner of the race is thought to be the best sprinter in Europe. Initially classed as a Group 2 race, it became a Group 1 offering in 1978. Thirty years later the race became part of the now suspended Global Sprint Challenge, coming in the wake of the King’s Stand Stakes and Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and before the Sprinters Stakes in Japan.
It is six furlongs in distance and is open for horses aged three and up, which explains why Sundridge was able to win it three years running from 1902 to 1904. Horses aged three have a weight allowances of nine stone, whilst those aged four and over have nine stone and six pounds. Fillies and mares both have an allowance of three pounds. When it comes to the most successful jockey it’s that man Lester Piggott’s name that you’ll see again thanks to his ten wins, whilst Aidan O’Brien, Charles Morton and Vincent O’Brien have all amassed five wins apiece as trainers.
The thing about racing meetings is that the most interesting facts we can tell you are about individual races, as you’ll have noticed from the details about each of the races above. That said, there are still some things that you can learn about away from the racing. As an example, the Style Awards take place across all three days of the Festival and offers prizes to those that have turned up looking snazzy. Ladies Day is obviously the time for the Best Dressed Lady, with Friday seeing the equivalent competition take place for men. The Best Dressed Couple is revealed on the Saturday.
They’re not the only interesting facts that can discovered about the racecourse and Festival, though. The following are some other nuggets that you might be pleased to discover:
- The Town Plate was first run in 1666, making it the oldest race in existence – it still take place on the same course it was run on all those years ago
- Smoked salmon is a popular delicacy at Festival time, with more than a tonne of it being consumed during Festival week in 2015
- The July Course exists alongside The Rowley Mile, making Newmarket the only racecourse in the world that has two separate and distinct turf racecourses
- The racecourse itself is home to 39 fixtures throughout the year, including nine Group 1 races – only thirty-six are raced in Britain over the year at the time of writing
- In 1949, the Photo Finish was used for the first time in a race on the Newmarket course
- In 2015 Kylie Minogue played Newmarket Nights after the conclusion of the racing on the Saturday