According to the latest betting, Bated Breath and Society Rock are the market leaders to win the Group 1 Darley July Cup on Saturday afternoon. Positive arguments of course can be made for both but by the same token, both are also vulnerable. The five year old Bated Breath for instance, despite being regarded by many as theUK’s top sprinter is still short of a Group 1 victory on his CV. Society Rock meanwhile, despite winning the Group 1, Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot 12 months ago, has failed to win in six starts since.

Bated Breath is the 7/2 favourite with bookmakers, whilst Society Rock is rated a 5/1 chance. Trained by Roger Charlton, Bated Breath has been in good form this season, impressively winning the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock in May, which he followed up by finishing in second place in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

He also finished in second place in this race last year, a ½ length behind the now retired Dream Ahead. Charlton is regarded as one of the best sprint trainers in the business and believes that if his entry can maintain the level of form he has shown so far in 2012, he will be hard to beat. There are some concerns with the anticipated softer ground atNewmarketon Saturday, particularly as he will be returning to the long trip of six furlongs. Should he win then it will be a first Group 1 in theUKfor jockey, James Doyle.

Since his “Golden Jubilee” win last year, Society Rock has struggled to find the winners enclosure but he did follow that success up a few weeks later with a very impressive performance when finishing 2nd in the Group 2, Prix Maurice du Gheest, over 7 furlongs at Deauville. He never quite got the trip in that race but it is encouraging to note that he was able to maintain his good form and that both of those runs were on soft ground which he will likely encounter on Saturday afternoon on the July Course.

This race comes after he missed the break in this year’s “Jubilee” at Ascot but he still managed, under a strong ride from Johnny Murtagh, to get through much of the field and eventually finished 5th just a couple of lengths behind the winner, Black Caviar. Trainer, James Fanshawe saddled Frizzante to win this race in 2004 and has booked Ryan Moore to take the ride and he looks like the one to be on at the odds.

Others that must come into the reckoning include the Richard Hannon trained pair of  Strong Suit and Libranno and there is also plenty of confidence behind Australian Raider Ortensia.

Strong Suit would have a chance if he can recapture some of his past form that has seen him win four times in Group Company. However, he has yet to win at the highest level and the form he showed last month when 19 lengths behind Frankel in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes was too bad to be true. Coming back to six furlongs might prove to be a sensible option, although there is nothing in the form book to suggest that he will enjoy the soft ground but it is encouraging to see that he has been supplemented to run following good gallops form and the 10/1 is probably a fair reflection of his chances and rates an each way possibility.

Libranno is bidding for a hat-trick of wins but he is being asked to step up in class and step down from his preferred trip of seven furlongs on soft ground that he has failed on before. It all looks a tall order but Hannon arguably knows what he is doing and the stable had a Group 2 winner at the meeting on Thursday so, like his stable mate, he could hold place claims at 14/1.

Ortensia is certain to improve from his disappointing show in King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot where, according to trainer, Paul Messara, the seven year old Mare was beaten by the pre-race atmosphere. She is said to have settled down considerably since Ascot and is reported to be back to her relaxed best and working well. Whilst admitting that the ground will be a concern, Messara believes she has a great chance to win a race where a number of other top class Australian sprinters have recently failed.

It is Society Rock though who sets the standard and whilst he’s over 12 months without a win, it is not because he’s been running poorly and if things drop right, he should give punters a run for their money.

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