Deacon Blues (red sleeves) has been off the track for over a yearPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Deacon Blues among 61 entered for the July Cup
JAMES FANSHAWE'S superstar sprinters Deacon Blues and Society Rock were among the 61 early entries for Newmarket's Group 1 Darley July Cup on Saturday, July 13.
Fanshawe revealed Deacon Blues had "got his old swagger back," after over a year off the course due to a tendon injury in an exclusive stable tour in Wednesday's Racing Post, and along with Society Rock he forms a potent part of the British-trained runners that will once again try and fend off the foreign invasion being planned for one of the summer's biggest sprint prizes.
Impressive Meydan winner Shea Shea heads the overseas contingent, with South African trainer Mike de Kock also making entries for Kavanagh and Soft Falling Rain. Krypton Factor (Bahrain), Havelock (USA), Shamexpress (Australia), Time After Time (Hong Kong) add to the international flavour.
"Shea Shea will run first at Royal Ascot and we will take it from there," said De Kock. "He is a low-actioned horse so I am not too sure how he would deal with the undulations and maybe some cut in the ground, but we still have every intention of running him in the July Cup.
"Soft Falling Rain had a tough campaign in Dubai and is a young horse who currently is at a slight weight-for-age disadvantage [because of being bred to southern hemisphere time] so he is not guaranteed to go to Royal Ascot. There is a strong possibility that he could go straight to Newmarket.
"I believe that he would handle the drop back to six furlongs. He has the speed and he can also produce a sustained finish off a hard pace. In winning the Godolphin Mile he showed both talent and heart, which is a rare combination."
The French-trained trio of Moonlight Cloud, Gammarth and What A Name also appear, while recent Palace House winner Sole Power and Gordon Lord Byron lead a strong Irish party.
At that stage of the season when careers can go one of two ways for horses disappointing over a mile, either going up in trip or dropping to sprint distances, there are some interesting entries from Aidan O'Brien, such as Cristoforo Columbo, George Vancouver, Parliament Square and Pedro The Great.
Adam Kirby could again be faced with a difficult decision with both Moohaajim and Reckless Abandon also entered, while Viztoria, so impressive at the Curragh, is also on the list.
The likes of Mince, The Cheka, Pearl Secret, Lethal Force and Jack Dexter flesh out a solid home defence.
59 entries were also made for the Investec Specialist Bank 'Dash', on Saturday June 1, with last year's 50-1 winner Stone Of Folca among them.
His trainer John Best said: "As long as the ground is fast, Stone Of Folca will run in the Dash. He has been absolutely fine but we have not been able to run him because there aren't any races for him.
"He won the Dash first time out last year and he has always run well on his first start of the season so the absence shouldn't be an inconvenience to him.
"His win last year was a surprise but that was only because of the draw. On everything he does at home, he is a very good horse but he was badly drawn in two and hopefully we will get a better draw this year.
"In these type of races you need everything to go your way on the day but the problem with him is his temperament. We try everything we can to get him to the post in one piece but it can be difficult. I'm very hopeful that he is better than his rating and I am looking forward to running him."