Luck of the draw: Shamexpress a big price at 16/1 for July Cup

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The latest Group 1 burn up is just around the corner in the shape of Newmarket’s July Cup and with the race such an intriguing matchup between the top performers in Royal Ascot’s two top level sprints, a little assistance in picking the winner can be gleaned from the draw history of recent placed horses.

Thumbing through the results of the last 10 runnings, it quickly becomes apparent that being berthed at the higher end of the draw has been a disadvantage, with the highest five stalls providing just one of the last 10 winners and seven of the last 20 placed horses.

As is often the case, the nature of the going has a part to play on the intensity of the draw bias and it seems that historically a low berth is particularly favoured when the ground rides faster than good, just as it is forecast to do for this year’s running.

In the last five July Cups run on good-to-firm or faster going the winner has broken from stall five or lower on each occasion, as have four of the 10 placed horses.

This year’s fortuitous quintet are Society Rock (4/1), Slade Power (10/1), Shamexpress (16/1), Lethal Force (7/2) and Krypton Factor (12/1).

With the first three home in the 6f Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal meeting all represented, those ensconced amongst the low numbers look to have a tactical advantage over their foes, with Sole Power and Shea Shea – the first two past the lollipop in Ascot’s 5f King’s Stand – racing on the other side of proceedings.

As such the jockeys aboard Lethal Force, Society Rock and Krypton Factor have the luxury of deciding whether to suck the finishing kick out of rivals, who are arguably at their best over the shorter distance, by posting searching fractionals or try and pick them off within the shadow of the line thanks to their superior stamina.

With Lethal Force’s trainer Clive Cox revealing misgivings over whether his charge would be at his best on an undulating track in a Racing Post stable visit at the season’s genesis, he looks too short and of the five, the bet at the prices looks to be Shamexpress.

Far from disgraced when running an under five-length ninth in the King’s Stand last time, the Aussie speedster’s jockey reported that he ran flat in that contest. With the stewards agreeing enough to order routine tests afterwards, better can feasibly be expected given his trainer seems happy enough to run him at Newmarket.

Furthermore his Group1 win came over 6f in Flemington’s Newmarket Handicap and the return to that trip along with his choice draw makes him a tasty 16/1 punt for the HQ sprint.

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