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Melbourne Cup hopes bidding to provide a sizzling start; Lee Mottershead on the potential for an exciting opening day to the three-day July meeting.

IN THIS soggiest of summers it is unsurprising that thoughts have turned to warmer, more exotic and considerably less flooded lands. The prospect of a trip to Australia is more attractive than ever before, not least to the connections of the leading market fancies in a Princess of Wales's Stakes that does a very good impression of a trial for the Emirates Melbourne Cup.

Red Cadeaux, Harris Tweed and Jakkalberry, the trio heading the betting for this afternoon's pounds 100,000 highlight, are all being trained to peak at Flemington in November. For all three the Princess of Wales's is a race well worth winning but also a means to an even greater end. That, however, will not bother Newmarket, nor Jockey Club Racecourses, for whom the start of this meeting cannot come soon enough.

Fierce storms, both meteorological and metaphorical, have been brewing over Newmarket all week.

Words of anger have been hurled at British racing's headquarters, where thunder and lightning yesterday struck on the eve of a July festival that is normally a scene of sunseekers sucking champagne from straws. With the weather refusing to relent, Bovril from beakers could be a more appropriate beverage.

The inclement conditions have made life difficult for Newmarket, where the prevailing ground will be far removed from the norm.

Nobody blames the racecourse for that, but plenty have vented spleen at the venue's decision to once again end the traditionally midweek meeting on Saturday, when its repositioning alongside major fixtures at York and Newbury - this season replacing Ascot - has caused problems for some trainers and jockeys.

When the stalls first crash open at the Channel 4-inspired start time of 1.20pm, the focus will switch to the track, on which Red Cadeaux, Paddy Power's 16-1 co-favourite for the Melbourne Cup, continues his build-up to the race whose 2011 running he failed by only a nose to win. He comes here on the back of an excellent Hardwicke Stakes third - in which the reopposing Jakkalberry was fifth - and a victory in the Sportingbet Yorkshire Cup.

Harris Tweed, the York third, has another crack at Red Cadeaux, as he very probably will in Australia, where Jakkalberry is also being targeted. With Quest For Peace another under consideration for the nation-stopping showpiece and Fiorente a likely entry as well, this is a contest with significant ante-post implications.

As, potentially, is the TNT July Stakes, in which seven of the nine runners appeared at Royal Ascot.

None won, but Gale Force Ten and Alhebayeb finished second in the Norfolk Stakes and Windsor Castle Stakes, while Sir Prancealot had to settle for fourth as 3-1 favourite in the Coventry Stakes.

Royal Ascot form, courtesy of King George V Stakes winner Fennell Bay, is also tested in the 1m2f handicap, won by subsequent middledistance superstar Pilsudski in 1995. The future Breeders' Cup Turf and Japan Cup winner took this event off a mark of just 82. All 14 runners in this year's race are rated at least 3lb higher, which offers hope for them all.

Newmarket's great hope is that the critics will be won over, the rain clouds will head elsewhere and the racing will be wonderful. They might have to settle for one of the three.

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Jockeys (from left) Siobhan Miller, Nora Looby, Laura Pike, Kirsty Milczarek and Alice Haynes have the fashion stakes covered for this week's Newmarket July meeting where all concerned will be hoping the bad weather holds off
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 12, 2012
Words:578
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