|Witness to have final UK start in July Cup|
Australia's Star Witness, placed twice in Group 1 company in the space of five days at Royal Ascot last month, will return home after his final bid to land a top flight victory in the UK in the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday, writes Elliot Slater.
The Danny O'Brien-trained four-year-old is reported to be in good shape for his last race against the cream of European sprinters over the six furlongs of Newmarket's July course, having recovered well from his exertions in finishing second in the King's Stand Stakes and third in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at the royal meeting. Caught close home by Robert Cowell's Prohibit on the Tuesday of the showcase fixture, Star Witness then returned to do battle again on the Saturday but found ground conditions had gone against him after two days of heavy rain at the Berkshire track. Nonetheless, he still looked as though he might prevail when hitting the front a furlong out, only to fail to repel the late burst of James Fanshawe's surprise winner Society Rock, and the rejuvenated Monsieur Chevalier, who finished second. The Newmarket odds suggest Star Witness could still grab a win before he heads home.
With a career at stud 'Down Under' already awaiting him together with mating plans with two of Australia's top racemares of recent years, Culminate and Dane Julia, there is plenty for the son of Starcraft to look forward to when he returns home, but Star Witness would certainly enhance his international stallion credentials if he could grab a win in the July Cup, one of the world's top sprint contests and part of the Global Sprint Challenge.
British bookies respect Star Witness's chance and rate him a best priced 7/1 joint second-favourite along with Elzaam (fourth in the Golden Jubilee Stakes), behind market leader Delegator (4/1f), winner of the Duke of York Stakes on the Knavesmire in May.