Darley July Cup: Returning champion Oxted and Starman among 23 entries for Newmarket Group One on Saturday

Oxted could return to Newmarket to defend July Cup title after winning King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last month; Ed Walker's Starman and Commonwealth Cup runner-up Dragon Symbol also among 23 entries

Cieren Fallon celebrates victory on Oxted in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot
Image: Cieren Fallon celebrates victory on Oxted in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot

Last year's winner Oxted is among 23 confirmations for Saturday's Darley July Cup at Newmarket - with Rohaan and Line Of Departure both supplemented.

Roger Teal's stable star arrived for the race last year as something of an unknown quantity, but blitzed the opposition that day and has subsequently added the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot to his roll of honour

He is likely to face Ed Walker's Starman, who had Oxted behind him when making a winning reappearance in the Duke of York Stakes in May.

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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 - who was involved in one of the most controversial races of the season to date at Ascot - is also entered.

Campanelle and Dragon Symbol in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot
Image: Dragon Symbol crossed the line first in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot but was denied in a stewards' enquiry

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.

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Dream Of Dreams wins the Diamond Jubilee
Image: Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner Dream Of Dreams has been ruled out through injury

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.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Chil Chil (no 11) ridden by Silvestre de Sousa on their way to winning the William Hill Chipchase Stakes (Group 3) race, during the William Hill Northumberland Plate Day at Newcastle Racecourse on June 26, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Tim Goode - Pool/Getty Images)
Image: Chil Chil wins the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle

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.

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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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