With 28 races of every type evenly divided over flat and jumps, there was plenty to discuss. Oliver Brett picks out five highlights from Bengali Boys' easy win at Newbury to a potential Group One performer for Luca Cumani.
Bengali Boys show super pace in Super Sprint:
Magical Memory collected his eighth career win in all but his first on soft ground to justify favouritism in the Group Three bet365 Hackwood Stakes.
Freshly returned from a six-day injury break, Frankie Dettori had few problems on the five-year-old grey and was always in command in the final furlong.
Magical Memory has thrown in a couple of stinking performances in the past year at Group One level but usually runs an honest race in any lower grade.
Charlie Hills had found a penalty kick of a conditions race to get his sprinter's eye in at Haydock last time out, and this was another clever bit of race placement. Magical Memory had finished last on soft ground in last season’s Haydock Sprint Cup, but chased home subsequent Diamond Jubilee runner-up Tasleet at York in May on a soft surface.
The trainer said: "We had a terrible run at Ascot and it's amazing what it does to get a horse's head back in front. We'll probably look at France. Last year we thought we might drop him back to five and now if anything we're thinking he could do further."
Nicholls makes early title move with Summer Plate win:
Paul Nicholls is probably still smarting from the temerity of Nicky Henderson to pinch last season's champion jumps trainer title and deprive him of an 11th crown.
But the Ditcheat maestro looks likely to set the early running again going into the big autumn dates after collecting Market Rasen's showpiece race, the Betfred Summer Plate.
His 9-1 shot Alcala did not appear to have the most engaging credentials to win this competitive race, but was given an intelligently patient and mature ride by Sam Twiston-Davies to win by three quarters of a length from Wadswick Court.
Racing UK’s analyst Jonathan Neesom said: "When we did our preview at lunchtime Alcala was about 13th on my list. He'd been winning egg-and-spoon races and the improvement they've got out of him is remarkable."
The winner may now go for the Galway Plate on August 2. Twiston-Davies said: "They went a good gallop and he got into a lovely rhythm. A fast-run race like this really suits him and he jumps and stays well."
Nicky Henderson is 11-10 to defend his title, while Nicholls is a best-priced 13-8.
John Constable paints a pretty picture at Market Rasen:
John Constable, the 4-1 favourite, defies a 16lb rise in the handicap to win the Betfred TV Summer Handicap Hurdle under Davy Russell. pic.twitter.com/rCezWwT3r2— Market Rasen Racecou (@MarketRasenRace) July 22, 2017
John Constable showed he remained well ahead of the handicapper and could be poised for some significant autumn targets after defying a 16lb rise in the weights to win Market Rasen's Betfred TV Summer Handicap Hurdle under a classic stalking ride from Davy Russell.
This success underlined the skills of Evan Williams by getting the gelding to win Haydock's Swinton Hurdle in May.
Analysing the race for Racing UK, Neesom reckoned John Constable could be, "a serious player if he's going to carry on like this. He's only six still and suddenly looks better than a handicapper. The winner came from way back and got a lovely split from Kaptsadt and Mystic Sky. He fluffs the last and pitches a bit on landing but he's much too good."
Williams said: "He came to life before the Swinton. I wanted to go Royal Ascot with him for the two-mile handicap, but he got balloted out. Then the Flat programme frightened me a bit, so I thought we'd come here.
"He's entered in the Galway Hurdle. I will have to see how he is. It's good we've had a warm spring and summer. He loves the sun on his back. He's a very good horse when conditions are right and he's in the right frame of mind."
Cumani comeback continues with hopes of God Given Group One potential:
The two-year-olds Capla Temptress and Dark Magic both took the eye in their respective wins at Newmarket, and will be inked into one or two notebooks for sure.
However, the Newmarket highlight was the win of God Given, a year older but still inexperienced, in the Listed Betbright Aphrodite Stakes for in-form Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani.
Until a couple of weeks ago, Cumani had sent out only 13 winners this calendar year from Bedford House Stables, a meagre return for a doyen of the Flat game.
But this was a fifth win in the past fortnight for the yard while God Given herself, who had taken four races to get off the mark, was making a significant step-up in grade to score at Listed level over a trip of a mile and a half.
George Wood had Postponed's half sister prominent from the off and though she pulled early and hung late God Given stayed on really well to see off Isabel De Urbina by a length. Cumani has won the British Champions Filly & Mare Stakes three times, but not since it was made part of Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot. He said afterwards that the finale in October was a possible target.
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