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Appleby seeks cup glory with Jungle Cat

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HIGH ON CONFIDENCE: Charlie Appleby is looking to make it two Group 1 winners within the space of a week.
HIGH ON CONFIDENCE: Charlie Appleby is looking to make it two Group 1 winners within the space of a week.

Charlie Appleby will be eyeing back-to-back Grade 1 winners when he sends Jungle Cat out to contest the Darley July Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Last Saturday, Appleby’s Hawkbill secured a first Eclipse Stakes title in 12 years for the Godolphin stable, who had triumphed three times in the same race during the 1990s.

Now, attention switches to the Adnams July Course in Newmarket, where four-year-old Jungle Cat has been confirmed as one of 19 horses for arguably the most prestigious sprint race in Britain.

The colt, though, is not considered to be among the favourites, with leading bookmakers offering odds ranging from 16-1 to 25-1 on a victory.

However, in the wake of Hawkbill’s triumph at Sandown Park, Appleby has revealed that confidence is high within the camp.

“Hawkbill was the underdog, but he upped his game, took on the field and won,” said the trainer.

“It was fantastic for Godolphin to get such a big victory on the board.

“It has given the yard a huge boost and everyone is feeling very positive.

“If we can follow that up with another win from Jungle Cat, that would be amazing.

“The odds are probably fair, but this is a sprint and they are always a bit of a lottery.

“He is in good order and I expect him to mount a challenge.”

Were the son of Iffraaj to triumph, he would have to achieve something that has previously eluded him on his two previous outings in the United Kingdom - toppling Profitable.

At Newmarket in April, Jungle Cat finished a head behind the Clive Cox-trained colt, and the distance was not much greater when they locked horns again at Ascot last month.

Nevertheless, Appleby is hopeful that his interest in the race will cope better with the step up from five to six furlongs.

“We are stepping up to six and there is every chance we will see an improvement because of that,” he added.

“Profitable is a great horse, but stepping up to six is a case of moving into the unknown.

“It could end up working in our favour, especially because we have been so close the previous two times we’ve faced each other.

“Likewise, Profitable may also thrive on the switch and come out on top.”

William Buick has saddled Jungle Cat for eight of his previous nine outings, but with the 27-year-old banned for an incident at the recent French Oaks, James Doyle will take on the ride.

Despite the alteration, Appleby has no concerns over the Cambridge-born jockey’s ability to get the best out of his mount.

“This is the great thing about our operation because we have great jockeys that are as good as each other,” enthused Appleby.

“James regularly rides him out and he knows the horse well. I am delighted he is in the saddle.”