The 2019 July Cup result saw all five three-year-olds entered in the prestigious and valuable 6f sprint pass the post at Newmarket before an older horse got home.
Given the weight-for-age terms are in the youngsters’ favour, that probably isn’t all that surprising.
The sprint division is looking for a new superstar though, following the retirement to stud of Royal Ascot double hero Blue Point.
Is Ten Sovereigns, who reversed Commonwealth Cup form with Advertise in the July Cup, the heir apparent?
He certainly performed better at Newmarket than Ascot. Form over the trip at headquarters proved key to the 2019 July Cup result.
The first four home had won at Newmarket over 6f – either on the July Course or the Rowley Mile – as juveniles.
Ten Sovereigns landed the Middle Park there last September. Advertise won the July Stakes 12 months earlier, Fairyland the Cheveley Park and Pretty Pollyanna the Duchess Of Cambridge.
The likes of Brando and Limato were also course and/or distance winners, but age is finally catching up with that seven-year-old pair.
They were at an obvious disadvantage having to give at least 6lb away. Considering the clean sweep for the three-year-olds, are the race terms fair?
Younger horses are still developing and that’s been reflected for many years in open, all age races like the July Cup.
Terms become fairer on the older brigade later in the course of the British Isles’ Flat season.
If, for instance, some horses re-oppose in the Haydock Sprint Cup in September, then the weight-for-age received is just 2lb.
The 2019 July Cup result was the fourth in five seasons where a three-year-old won. It’s the exact same trend in the Haydock Sprint Cup, meanwhile, so youth still triumphs over experience.
Elder statesmen simply can’t keep up
Horses like Blue Point are thus the exception rather than the rule, even in the sprint division.
Ten Sovereigns will have to prove he can give weight away before he’s ready to follow in those hoofprints.
It may just be that some of the older horses didn’t run to form and put their best foot forward in the July Cup.
Dream Of Dreams got within a head of Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, but was a major disappointment here.
Is there a need to level the playing field? Some would say the disadvantageous terms dissuade owners from keeping Flat thoroughbreds in training as they get older.
The best performing horse of those four-year-olds and up was beaten over five lengths, according to the 2019 July Cup result.
Giving 6lb away, this is what you would expect if they Singapore raider Lim’s Cruiser was rated the same as Ten Sovereigns.
He was actually one of the older horses that had a lot to find with the market principals. Sprints are often settled by fine margins and nobody was truly tailed off at Newmarket.
It is more about attracting horses in their Classic year who perhaps didn’t stay the Rowley Mile of the 2000 or 1000 Guineas than pandering to four-year-olds and up.
Dropping horses back into sprint company when they have failed to get eight furlongs makes sense.
Aidan O’Brien has done this in consecutive years and lifted the July Cup with U S Navy Flag and now Ten Sovereigns. Newmarket appear in no hurry to look again the race terms.
The 2019 July Cup result perhaps highlights most of all that the relative veterans have a hard time replicating their best regardless of the advantage that three-year-olds have.