Caravaggio, undefeated in six previous starts, will take on familiar foes and, for the first time, older rivals in the July 15 Darley July Cup (G1) at Newmarket.
By Scat Daddy—Mekko Hokte, by Holy Bull, Caravaggio was one of the stars of Royal Ascot, where he took the Commonwealth Cup (G1) in a hot battle with Harry Angel.
The Coolmore-owned colt won five previous starts comfortably for trainer Aidan O' Brien, but reared in his stall just before the start of the Commonwealth Cup. Jockey Ryan Moore had to summon an impressive turn of foot from the colt in the final furlong to chase down Harry Angel for a three-quarter-length victory.
Harry Angel, in the Godolphin blue, will attempt to turn the tables on Caravaggio. He has two wins and three seconds from five starts. The Dark Angel (IRE) colt, out of the Cadeaux Genereux (GB) mare Beatrix Potter (IRE), is still seeking his first group 1 victory. Adam Kirby has the mount for trainer Clive Cox. He owns two group 2 wins.
Intelligence Cross, who pushed Harry Angel in the early stages of the Commonwealth Cup, is the only other 3-year-old in the 10-horse field. The six-furlong July Cup is included in both the QIPCO British Champions Series and the Global Sprint Challenge.
The older brigade includes the first three finishers from the Diamond Jubilee (G1), the other top-level Royal Ascot sprint—The Tin Man, Tasleet , and Limato. Limato, a 5-year-old Tagula gelding, won last year's renewal of the July Cup and also took the Qatar Prix de la Foret (G1) at Chantilly Oct. 2 before a sixth-place showing in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) at Santa Anita Park.
The July Cup will be popular worldwide, but Australia will watch closely as Coolmore holds a gate in the inaugural running of the Oct. 14 Everest Stakes—a six-furlong contest at Royal Randwick worth AU$10 million (about US$7.7 million).
Structured similarly to the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), which was staged for the first time in January at Gulfstream Park, the Everest offered starting slots for purchase and Coolmore was one of those that ponied up the requisite AU$600,000 (about $463,000). Caravaggio could be a perfect fit for that investment.
Local owners are trying to entice Wesley Ward-trained multiple group 1 winner Lady Aurelia to the Everest, which also could be a target for 5-year-old super mare Winx, and Chautauqua, once the world's highest-rated sprinter.