Too slick, and far too quick. It was Harry Angel’s time to shine at Newmarket on Saturday afternoon, as the Clive Cox trained ‘pocket-rocket’ stormed to victory in the Darley July Cup.
On a track that suits a speedier type, it was the Godolphin youngster that had the required ‘zip’ to fend off a classy looking field, and capture one of Europe’s most prestigious sprints. At the front end throughout, Adam Kirby set sail for home inside the two-furlong pole, and never looked likely to be caught. Limato threatened briefly, but always appeared held by the youngster, who was in receipt of a crucial 6lbs. Brando ran a cracker in third, whilst Caravaggio, sent-off the short-priced favourite, was never able to get within striking distance, and had to settle for a ‘staying-on’ fourth.
Clive Cox had won this race in 2013, with the wonderful Lethal Force. The handler was clearly thrilled to capture the prestigious event again, when saying of the youngster: “This is one of the best July Cups I’ve seen in my lifetime and I’m very proud of the horse and everyone at home. He’s become a man today. He was extremely well and a little bit fresh going into Ascot. It was an achievement that day to be beaten three-quarters of a length by Caravaggio and I'm very pleased we've taken his scalp today. With maturity, he's becoming the finished article and I think today was pretty special.”
Kirby was understandably thrilled and certainly wasn’t holding back on the praise when adding: “He proved how good he is today and I’m delighted. He’s a machine, the best you will see for a long time - I truly believe that.”
The Sprint Cup at Haydock appears the next logical step for the winner. He was an emphatic winner at the track in May, and three-year-olds have a terrific record in the race, having captured four of the last six.
Time may prove that trying to give Harry Angel almost half a stone was an impossible task. I’m not yet convinced that Limato is quite as good as last year, though his runner-up finish left his jockey Harry Bentley in no doubt, when saying: “He has run a great race, a fantastic race. I am very happy with how everything went during the race. He picked up fantastic for me and has given me a wonderful feel. We have beaten some fantastic horses today and those who were on top at Royal Ascot (in the Diamond Jubilee) and we’ve managed to turn that around.
“I don’t think we could have done anything differently. If I had been told beforehand that was where I would be off that pace, I would have taken it every day of the week, so I am delighted. It was a slightly different race to last year. But he has given me that feel again that I got off him last year and at Chantilly. He feels back to his best. We can look forward to the future with him now – he is such a solid performer. There are options for him, but that will be up to the owner and trainer.”
For the previously undefeated Caravaggio, attention may now turn to France, and a slight step-up in trip. I remain convinced that O’Brien’s colt needs a stiff six furlongs or further. He was outpaced on Saturday, and by the time Ryan Moore had him rolling, it was all too late. Talking yesterday of the vanquished Caravaggio, O'Brien said: “He's good. I thought he ran very well. He ran a good race and we should be praising the winner Harry Angel as well as Clive, Adam and Sheikh Mohammed. It was one of those days, they are only flesh and blood and we'll look forward to him the next day.
“The lads will obviously decide what's next, but John (Magnier) was just saying that we might have a look at the Maurice de Gheest. He was just saying that to me this morning, but we'll see how he is after a week or 10 days. I think the Everest (in Australia) is still on the table.”
Whilst Newmarket’s July Cup proved to be a real thriller, over in Ireland John Gosden’s Enable was turning the Irish Oaks into a procession. Sensational at Epsom, the daughter of Nathaniel was no less impressive at the Curragh, and now looks a realistic Arc prospect. She cruised through the race, and when asked by Frankie Dettori to go through the gears, the response was electric. Speaking after the success, the Italian said: “She's amazing. She's got a good cruising speed for a stayer, she can quicken and she gets the distance really well. They're all the things you want. I was able to give my shoulder a rest in the last 100 yards and ease our way to the line. She felt great. As long as she travels, her well-being is good and she produces performances like that, we don't have to worry too much.”
Enable is currently available at 7/1 for the Arc, a race won by the fillies on five of the last six occasions.