Lethal Force confirmed himself the leading sprinter in Europe as he made all to land the Darley July Cup at Newmarket yesterday.
Adam Kirby blazed up the stands rail on the Clive Cox-trained grey as he showed there was no fluke about his Diamond Jubilee Stakes win from Royal Ascot, again proving too good for closest pursuer Society Rock, this time by a length-and-a-half.
The four-year-old (9-2) was kicked on by Kirby with a quarter-mile to run and despite a visible jink along the way, he ran on strongly to beat James Fanshawe’s runner in record time. Slade Power was third.
Kirby said: “He’s fast. I jumped out, got into a beautiful rhythm and things went nicely to plan, but he had no concentration just after the two pole. When I gave him a smack he jinked, he nearly slipped, he wasn’t expecting it. But he was very good.”
Cox said: “I’m so proud of him. Even when he won at Royal Ascot they said he was lucky and it was a good ride, but I think he’s confirmed today he’s pretty good. There might be a few doubters silenced now.
“He came back from Ascot really well and he was cherry-ripe today. Physically he has matured and strengthening from three to four has been the key. To break the track record is brilliant.
“I was a bit worried about the undulations, but he put that to bed really well. Adam said if anything he was idling a bit in front, he gave him a smack and the result was clear.
“He’ll tell us how he comes back from here. We’ve got lots of nice options. He’s a seven-furlong Group Two winner, so the Maurice de Gheest is possible [over six-and-a-half furlongs at Deauville] and beyond that we’ve had lots of kind invitations from as far afield as Australia and Hong Kong. We’ll take it a step at a time.”
Fanshawe, who has been suffering from ill health, said of Society Rock: “He ran really well and I’m so proud of how the team have prepared him.”
n It’s the busiest period of the year for Scottish racing, with seven meetings in the next fortnight, starting at Perth today, then moving on to Ayr on Monday and Hamilton Park on Thursday and Friday.
Trainer Gordon Elliott is sending over Best Served Cold for the Royal Caledonian Hunt Novices Chase at Perth, but Lucinda Russell’s Rhymer’s Ha may well have the beating of the Irish hope.
Tomorrow is Glasgow Fair Family Day at Ayr, with all the usual attractions for the kids and seven races in which mum and dad can pick the winners.