Darley July Cup: England footballers inspire Oxted connections ahead of Newmarket Group One defence

Oxted returns to defend his July Cup crown at Newmarket after winning the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot; Oxted battling it out with Ed Walker's Starman at the top of the betting for Saturday's Group One

Harry Teal, right, with Oxted and trainer Roger after winning the July Cup at Newmarket last year
Image: Trainer Roger Teal, left, with Oxted and son Harry after winning the July Cup at Newmarket last year

Roger Teal is taking inspiration from England's football team ahead of Oxted's bid to become the first back-to-back winner of the Darley July Cup in over 60 years at Newmarket on Saturday.

In beating Denmark in extra time at Wembley on Wednesday, Gareth Southgate's men became the first squad since the World Cup heroes of 1966 to reach a major final ahead of a mouthwatering Euro 2020 clash with Italy on Sunday evening.

Oxted is out to end an even longer wait for a sprinter to successfully defend the July Cup - with the Lester Piggott-ridden Right Boy the last horse to achieve that feat in 1959.

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Teal said: "England finally got to the final the other night, so it does happen! Maybe it's the year for long waits to end.

"It hasn't been done since 1959, so let's hope we can end that and England can do the same on Sunday."

Oxted returns to the July course at the top of his game, having doubled his Group One tally in the King' Stand at Royal Ascot last month.

Having had his enthusiasm tempered initially after Oxted was drawn on the far side in stall 16, Teal is more upbeat after the first three horses home in the six-furlong handicap on Thursday were drawn 16, 15 and 19 respectively.

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Harry Teal, son of Oxted's trainer Roger, says their stable star is in great form ahead of the defence of their July Cup crown at Newmarket on Saturday

"It gives us much more confidence now. It did boost us. When it first came out I thought 'no, I don't believe it, we're drawn on the far side'," he said.

"You can't change it so you have to do the best from where you are. It just depends where the pace is. Hopefully there is pace around us. If not we'll have to make our own.

"I don't want any rain. It's good to firm at the moment and hopefully that rain front stays away for Saturday."

Plenty of attention will surround the David Evans-trained Rohaan, who has progressed at a rate of knots this year and was last seen defying a big weight to win the Wokingham at the Royal fixture.

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Since becoming part-owner of July Cup contender Rohaan, Crystal Palace defender James Tomkins has seen the horse rise dramatically through the ranks

He had run in the valuable handicap as geldings are barred from the Commonwealth Cup - with connections left wondering what might have been, as Rohaan had beaten first past the post Dragon Symbol in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock.

Evans said: "He seems fine. He just takes everything in his stride and it's just another day out for him. If it rains it rains, and if it doesn't it doesn't - there's nothing we can do about that. He's been supplemented, so he'll take his chance.

"Looking at the handicaps on the first day the draw looks OK, but we'll see what happens on the day. You need luck in all these races - he got it at Ascot and hopefully he'll get it again."

As well as Dragon Symbol, Archie Watson can also call on another Royal Ascot runner-up in Glen Shiel, who only found Dream Of Dreams too good in the Diamond Jubilee.

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King Power racing manager Alastair Donald is hoping Tim Easterby's Art Power can finally grab Group One glory in the July Cup at Newmarket after 'knocking on the door' so far in his career

"He (Dragon Symbol) is not technically a stakes winner, but he is probably very unfortunate not to be unbeaten," said Watson.

"He is still very much learning on the job. He ran a huge race at Ascot and he has proven himself to be a proper Group One horse.

"Things get serious when the three-year-olds step up against the older horses and I just hope he can continue to progress.

"On the balance of form he has got a very strong chance on Saturday."

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Of Glen Shiel, he added: "He ran a huge race at Ascot. He clearly just needed his first run back in the Greenlands at the Curragh and he tightened up for that. He obviously handled the soft ground well at Ascot, as did the winner, but he ran another very big race.

"The ground is not going to be as soft as his Ascot runs, but he ran a very good race on better ground in France last year when he was just getting the feel of things as a sprinter and I'm sure he can be just as effective on better ground."

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