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Aidan O'Brien's Australian import Merchant Navy among July Cup possibles

Merchant Navy flashes to victory in the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington last November
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Recent Australian import Merchant Navy could be set for a Group 1 mission at Newmarket after being entered in the Darley July Cup by new trainer Aidan O’Brien.

The Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes winner, who has engagements at Royal Ascot in the meantime, and in the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh later this month, is one of 16 entries for O’Brien, who has won the midsummer highlight at Newmarket three times.

Among his other options for the £500,000 six-furlong contest are Cheveley Park Stakes winner Clemmie and US Navy Flag, who notched a Group 1 double in the Middle Park and Dewhurst Stakes.

US-trained sprinter Beckford could return to European shores after being entered by new trainer Brendan Walsh.

Walsh took over from Gordon Elliott as Beckford’s trainer last November and has been impressed by what he has seen of the Group 2 winner.

Watch Beckford cruise to victory last year at the Curragh here

“He’s a really athletic colt with a lovely mind, so I can’t see the undulations at Newmarket bothering him,” he said.

“The nice thing about taking him all the way over there is that he's not ground dependent – I think he will go on anything.

“He’s got a lot of natural speed and I can’t see any reason why he can’t be competitive against the best sprinters Europe has to offer.”

Stormy Liberal is another sprinter who could represent the US in the race, while the Australian-trained Redkirk Warrior could also feature, having won the Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap down under this year.

Stormy Liberal (nearside) at Santa Anita in California last year

Last year’s winner Harry Angel could bid to strike again for Clive Cox, while last year’s runner-up and 2016 winner Limato has also been entered.

Other notable names from the 50-strong list unveiled on Wednesday include recent 2,000 Guineas runners Gustav Klimt, James Garfield, Raid, Murillo and Rajasinghe, plus Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye winner Battaash.

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Beckford has a lot of natural speed and I can’t see any reason why he can’t be competitive against the best sprinters Europe has to offer
E.W. Terms
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