Starman and Oxted to lock horns for July Cup at Newmarket

Starman and last year's winner Oxted head the betting among the 23 confirmations for Saturday's Darley July Cup at Newmarket.

Roger Teal's Oxted destroyed the opposition last year and has subsequently added the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot to his roll of honour.

Ed Walker's Starman, beat Oxted when making a winning reappearance in the Duke of York Stakes in May.

Walker decided against running his big hope at Ascot when the ground turned soft and will be hoping for a dry week as his only defeat came on Champions Day last year when the ground was deep.

Archie Watson's Dragon Symbol was involved in one of the most controversial races of the season to date at Ascot.

He was first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup, but was adjudged to have caused enough interference to Wesley Ward's Campanelle by the stewards to see the placings reversed. Connections lost their appeal against that verdict last week.

Watson also has another strong chance with Glen Shiel, winner of the Champions Sprint last season and a credible second in the Diamond Jubilee at Ascot.

The winner of that race, Sir Michael Stoute's Dream Of Dreams, will be missing this weekend due to a setback.

Andrew Balding's Chil Chil has taken her form to a new level on her last two starts, winning a handicap at the Guineas meeting and the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle. Her trainer is another hoping for a dry week.

Balding said: "She will go for the July Cup if the ground is good or faster. She showed some pretty useful form last year when conditions were right and she was a little bit unfortunate on a couple of occasions. Beat The Bank, her brother, got better with age and it appears she is.

"It is a big step up in class, but she likes the (Rowley Mile) track at Newmarket and I don't see why she won't like this one, so why not have a go?

"She travelled strongly at Newcastle and I was impressed with the way she picked up in the second half of the race. She is clearly a filly at the top of her game. It would be nice if she could prove up to this level."

Another stepping up in grade is David Evans' Rohaan, the Wokingham winner who has improved out of all recognition this season.

Roger Varian's Line Of Departure also represents the three-year-old generation on the back of winning a Salisbury Listed event last time out.

Others engaged include Charlie Appleby's Jersey winner Creative Force, Clive Cox's Supremacy, Joseph O'Brien's Thunder Moon and the Tim Easterby-trained Art Power.

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