The July Cupis a sprint race over six furlongs held on the aptly named July Course. The race is open to three-year-old thoroughbreds that compete not only for the valuable total prize money of £500,000 (as of 2017) but also for the title of Champion Sprinter in Europe. In fact, this is the honour awarded to the winner of the July Cup. It is because of this coveted title that the July Cup is one of the most prestigious events on the British horse racing calendar.
Group 1 thoroughbreds that are at least 3 years of age may enter this race. The July Cup is held at Newmarket Racecourse – specifically, on the July Course which is right-handed. The July Cup is part of the July Festival at Newmarket Racecourse, along with the Falmouth Stakesbut the races Fillies' Mile and Dewhurst Stakes. The field must run across a straight, six-furlong stretch of turf. The weight requirement varies with three-year-olds carrying 9 stones (males) or 8st-11lbs (females) and four-year-olds carrying 9st-6lbs (males) or 9st-3lbs (females).
location: Newmarket Racecourse
grade: Group 1
race type: Flat race
This race was introduced in 1876. The first and second year of its running immediately created the first chapters of July Cup History. This was when the colt Springfield, who was bred in Queen Victoria's Hampton Court Stud, won the 1876 and 1877 events. As if he set the tone for the future of the competition, there have been numerous double winners since the beginning of the July Cup.
Below are the current records (as of 2017) set by champion sprinters that have competed in the race since its inception over 140 years ago. Some have remained intact despite the test of a century's worth of time. Others have been broken in just the past decade (as of 2017).
Only one contender has managed to win the July Cup three times. This was Sundridge, who raced to victory in 1902, 1903 and 1904. This was a feat which has never been repeated again.
As this is a very important race, it is no surprise that Lester Piggott, the famous champion jockey, left his mark on the competition. Piggott won the July Cup an unbelievable ten times between 1957 and 1992.
Tied with five wins apiece, Charles Morton and Vincent O'Brien are the most successful trainers in the history of the race. Morton's victories were achieved in the early 19th century from 1903 to 1914. In the latter part of the century, O'Brien won from 1973 to 1990.
Lethal Force won with a record time of 1 m: 9.11sec earning him the title of Cartier Sprinter of the Year in 2013.
Below are a few of the most memorable moments in the long history of this race. The fist details a sprinter that made a lasting impression with his unquestionable domination of the race during the early 19th century - Sundridge. The next is the strongest sprinter to run in the July Cup during the past decade - Dream Ahead (as of 2017).
Considered the best sprinter of his time despite a pelvic injury as a two-year-old, Sundridge had a career record of 17 wins from 35 starts. He either won or placed second in most of those races.
The 2011 winner, Dream Ahead, is the highest-rated horse of the past decade to win the July Cup. When he was a two-year-old colt, Timeform rated him equal to modern racing legend Frankel. In his short career, he was a champion miler and sprinter with five group 1 wins.