NEWMARKET // The Global Sprint Challenge is a series of races that was set up three years ago in order to encourage thoroughbred sprinters to achieve excellence around the world. It is no surprise therefore, that this year the organisation decided to embrace Newmarket's July Cup, staged this afternoon, into its eight-leg series.
The July course's Group 1 dash over 6f is the real pinnacle of sprinting achievement in Europe. During the last 31 years, 21 winners of the July Cup have gone on to be crowned Europe's top sprinter. It is a thought that delighted John Best, the trainer of the highly-fancied Kingsgate Native. "I'd love him to be champion sprinter at the end of the year," said the Kent handler yesterday. Kingsgate Native ran twice at Royal Ascot, finishing 10th in the King's Stand, before routing an international field of Group or Graded winners from eight countries in the Golden Jubilee. It was the first time since Lyric Fantasy in 1992 that a three-year-old had won Ascot's 6f sprint, and the son of Mujadil is ready for another big effort today. "Everything has gone 100 per cent since Ascot," Best said. "I've had no problem with him. I just don't know how he will act on soft ground."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has sponsored the July Cup through his breeding operation Darley since 1995, and yet Godolphin boast just one placing from 11 runners in the race during that period. Two years ago, Iffraaj was just touched off by Les Arcs, and this year trainer Saeed bin Suroor relies on the former American speedster Diabolical."He ran disappointingly at Royal Ascot," Suroor admitted. "But he has been working well at home and looks fit." Tough opposition indeed, but one Best is not fearful of: "It'll have to be a mighty horse to wrest that crown off us."