Paul Hanagan wins Darley July Cup on Muhaarar

Jockey Paul Hanagan celebrates after winning The Darley July Cup on Muhaarar. Picture: PA
Jockey Paul Hanagan celebrates after winning The Darley July Cup on Muhaarar. Picture: PA
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Muhaarar snatched the Darley July Cup from Tropics in the final stride to land a pulsating renewal of the six-furlong Group One at Newmarket.

Fresh from his victory in the inaugural Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, Muhaarar (2-1 joint favourite) was the first three-year-old to win this famous sprint since Dream Ahead in 2011.

It looked as though Tropics (25-1) was going to go one better than 12 months ago for trainer Dean Ivory when he led inside the final furlong, but Paul Hanagan conjured a late run out of Charlie Hills’ young star to win by a nose.

Eastern Impact (50-1) was a length and a half away in third.

Hanagan said: “This is what’s it all about. The whole team works hard, I’m delighted.

“He didn’t really handle the track and the dip and I could only really move on him when he hit the rising ground. I always just thought he was going to get there.”

Hills said: “It was the track I was worried about more than anything. He didn’t come down the hill too good, but he’s a real fighter and he galloped right to the line.

“We’ll put him back on a nice level track now. He’s in the Maurice de Gheest and the Haydock Sprint and there’s Ascot at the end of the year.

“I think seven furlongs is no problem, either. He’s just a very good horse.”

Ivory was proud of Tropics’ performance. He said: “He travelled so strongly, but it wasn’t the ideal ground for him.

“After Royal Ascot he was jarred up, so I wasn’t expecting too much, but when I saddled him up I knew he was in great form.

Ivory went on: “The last few strides felt like ten minutes. I thought he had won it, but I can’t complain at all. To me, it is as good as a winner.”

Sprint stalwart Sole Power was fourth for Eddie Lynam, who said: “It was a really good race. He has been a great horse for us.”

Owner David Power added: “We are looking forward to the Nunthorpe, but I think he will be up against Acapulco. Hopefully we will have double-figure odds.”