American-based millionaire Morluc is among 79 entries for the group I Darley July Cup at England's Newmarket Racecourse on July 10.A 7-year-old trained by Randy Morse, Morluc has twice lost by narrow margins to Falvelon in the valuable group II Hong Kong Sprint over 5 1/2 furlongs at Sha Tin, being beaten a head in 2000 and a short-head the following term. Morluc had his first race since July when second to Fiscally Speaking in the group III Turf Sprint Stakes over five furlongs at Churchill Downs on May 2. The 2003 Darley July Cup, supported by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud since 1996, has gone up in value to £250,000, a £30,000 increase over the 2002 figure, when there were 57 entries.Since the International Classifications first began in 1977, there have been 26 runnings of the Darley July Cup and no less than 20 of the winners during that time have been crowned champion European sprinter, with the other six all being of the very highest quality. Time and again, the Darley July Cup has proved to be Europe's sprint championship.Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien has won two of the last four renewals of the Darley July Cup, with Stravinsky in 1999 and Mozart two years later. This year O'Brien has 14 entries -- one more than in 2002 -- including Hawk Wing, runner-up in two classics last season, the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket and the Vodafone Derby at Epsom, before winning the group I Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Another who could step down in trip is Hold That Tiger, last year's group I Grand Criterium winner who was the unplaced favourite in this year's Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas, while Spartacus is the winner of two top-class juvenile races in 2002 including the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.The O'Brien contingent is also made up of First Dynasty, France, Great Pyramid, Miguel Cervantes, Sahara Desert, Salt Lake City, Septimus Severus, Solskjaer, Statue Of Liberty and Tomahawk.Godolphin, the other powerhouse of international racing, has entered seven including Firebreak, victorious in the group II Godolphin Mile at Nad Al Sheba on his last start, Romantic Liason, the 2002 Queen Mary Stakes winner at Royal Ascot, and Three Points who has been fourth and sixth in the Darley July Cup in 2001 and 2002. Meshaheer, Country Reel, Feet So Fast and Western Diplomat complete the strong Godolphin squad. Equally exciting is the inclusion of the Australian-trained Choisir. He could represent trainer Paul Perry, who saddled the Danehill Dancer colt to win the group I TEAC Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February.The six French-trained entries include the John Hammond-trained Crystal Castle, who is no stranger to success in Britain having won two races at Ascot in 2002 including the group II Brunswick Diadem Stakes in September when he denied group I Golden Jubilee winner Malhub by a short-head, and Zipping, trained by Robert Collet, fourth in last year's Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas who has subsequently been campaigned in sprint contests. Gallic hopes could also rest on the Criquette Head-Maarek-trained pair of Evoke and Victorieux, as well as Porlezza and Swedish Shave.
Pleasure Place has been entered by Italian handler Riccardo Menichetti. She won a group III contest at Maisons-Laffitte in September.Notable home-based contenders include Continent and Bahamian Pirate, who gave Yorkshire-based trainer David Nicholls an amazing one-two in last season's Darley July Cup, Airwave, the Henry Candy-trained filly who beat this year's Sagitta 1000 Guineas heroine Russian Rhythm in the 2002 group I Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, and Oasis Dream, trained by John Gosden, last year's top-rated European 2-year-old in the International Classifications who won the group I Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.The Brian Meehan-trained Twilight Blues, the surprise winner of the six-furlong group II Duke Of York Stakes on May 13, could again take on the York second, third and fourth, Just James, Polar Way and Suggestive.Michael Prosser, Newmarket's clerk of the course, commented today: "This a fantastic international entry for the Darley July Cup which has long been established as Europe's top sprint and we are looking forward to a great race."