Richard Fahey credited Perfect Power with an extra Group One victory in the immediate aftermath of his excellent Commonwealth Cup success, but the three-year-old now has the chance to prove his handler was simply looking into his crystal ball as he takes on the elders for the first time in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
Having landed the Norfolk Stakes, Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes as a two-year-old, the Musley Bank team pointed the son of Ardad towards the 2000 Guineas in the spring of 2022. A tilt at the first Classic of the summer became more than wishful thinking after Perfect Power landed the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on his first outing of the season.
However, he failed to see out the eight-furlong trip on the Rowley Mile and a return to sprinting seemed the obvious option for this smooth-travelling colt. The drop back to six furlongs worked the oracle as he landed back-to-back victories at Royal Ascot and Perfect Power now has the opportunity to cement himself as one of the leading sprinters around.
“We are delighted with our lad. He is in great form and we are actually looking forward to the race,” said Fahey.
“He is very, very reliable. He will like the ground and we’re looking for a fourth Group One with him.
“He normally gets drawn on the wing, so it is the first time they have given us a decent draw. I think at Ascot he was drawn one and I’m sure he was drawn one in the Middle Park, so at least we are drawn among them now. We are delighted with him and we would not swap him.”
A length and a half adrift of Perfect Power in the Commonwealth Cup was Hugo Palmer’s Flaming Rib and that Ascot run, when picking up a silver medal, was enough to convince the Manor House Stables handler and connections to stump up £36,000 to supplement the three-year-old for this six-furlong event.
Palmer said: “We’ve got no reason to think he won’t run a big race, obviously he’s fifth-favourite and the four horses ahead of him in the market have got reasons to be there.
“We’ve got to beat our conqueror in Perfect Power and the horses that filled the first three places in the Platinum Jubilee as well. We can only worry about our horse and I’m really looking forward to running him.
“At the inception of the Commonwealth Cup, people used to go on about how three-year-old sprinters really struggled against their elders.
“(But) I was Hughie Morrison’s assistant when we won the race (July Cup) with Sakhee’s Secret all those years ago, three-year-olds do have a good record in the race and I’m sure that it’s only going to get better because of the three-year-old sprinting programme; the Pavilion, the Sandy Lane and the Commonwealth Cup.
“It is really nurturing three-year-old sprint talent and I expect the three-year-old trend to continue going forwards, the favourite is a three-year-old as well.”
Others from the Commonwealth Cup taking the step up to challenge the older horses include Aidan O’Brien’s Cadamosto, who was far from disgraced when fourth in the Ascot Group One and bids to give the master of Ballydoyle his sixth victory in the race, while Twilight Jet, who disappointed at the Royal meeting, has plenty of high-class performances on his record and could bounce back.
There is an international flavour to the race provided by Platinum Jubilee third Artorius, who flies the flag for Australia, and King Hermes, who looks to give Japan a second win following Agnes World’s triumph in 2000.
King Hermes is trained by ‘the man in the hat’ Yoshito Yahagi, who is no stranger to success on the big stage. He said: “My idea for the ideal distance for the horse is seven furlongs but since you have the incline, maybe the six furlongs will be good for the horse.
“After Dubai, maybe in April, we identified the July Cup as a target.
“It is really difficult to compare him to Agnes World as he was a very nice sprinter. This horse is young and inexperienced so we are just looking forward to what is going to happen on July Cup day.”
Artorius was unable to weave his way to the front when a bronze medallist at the Berkshire venue last month and if he is to strike gold here, he will have to reverse form with Godolphin pair Naval Crown and Creative Force, who filled the first two steps on the podium respectively on that occasion.
Charlie Appleby’s duo are well worth their place towards the head of the betting once again, while others from Ascot’s final-day feature to reoppose include Happy Romance (seventh), Alcohol Free (ninth), Double Or Bubble (11th) and Emaraaty Ana (15th).
Alcohol Free was sprinting for the first time since winning the Cheveley Park Stakes as a two-year-old and Andrew Balding is keen to roll the dice once again before she attempts to defend her Sussex Stakes crown later this month.
He said: “There is no secret she is a better horse with cut in the ground, but she is really well at the moment and we are keen to use this as a stepping stone to going back to Goodwood for the Sussex Stakes and the rest of the year. She’s is in great form, so I hope she will run well.”
Irish raider Romantic Proposal and Michael Dods’ Blackrod complete the 14-strong line-up.