Dods has July Cup in mind for York winner Azure Blue

Azure Blue is on course for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket, as long as the ground is suitable for Michael Dods’ new sprinting star.

The four-year-old is on a steep upward curve, winning four of her last five races, the most recent of which was in the Group Two 1895 Duke of York Stakes.

She beat Highfield Princess there, albeit in receipt of 5lb, and with John Quinn’s mare performing with extreme credit in both the King’s Stand and the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, the form looks strong.

“Azure Blue is in the July Cup and that is the plan as long as the ground doesn’t firm up,” said Dods.

“She is in good form and obviously it will be a tough race, but the plan is to go to Newmarket with her. She seems to love it at both tracks at Newmarket (three wins on the Rowley Mile and one on the July course to date).

“She didn’t go to Ascot and part of the reason for that was that the entries closed too soon so we came up with the plan of going for the July Cup.

“Had she had a run before the entries closed at Ascot then we would have probably entered her, but then it went pretty quick so whether she would have run is questionable.

“I think at the moment the speediest horse we had was Mecca’s Angel, but at this stage of her career I would put her up there with the best of them like Mabs Cross and Mecca’s Angel.”

Commonwealth Cup one-two Shaquille and Little Big Bear, older horses such as Kinross and Art Power and the likes of Lezoo and Meditate, remain in the mix.

A total of 19 stood their ground, although the American-trained Big Invasion was subsequently scratched, leaving 18.

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