He got his ground, and proved unstoppable.
Henry Candy never doubted his ability, and on Saturday Limato scorched to victory in the Darley July Cup. Travelling powerfully just behind the leaders for much of the race, Harry Bentley sent his mount to the front inside the two-furlong pole, and in the blink of an eye the race was over. It was a devastating performance, which left a high-class field in his wake and scrapping for place money. David O’Meara’s Suedois came off best of the rest, with Quiet Reflection a close third.
Despite being proved absolutely right in dropping his horse back in trip, a delighted, yet as ever understated Candy remained circumspect when speaking of future plans for the outstanding gelding, saying: “He's exciting isn't he? That was amazing. The first thing Harry said when he got back was 'I can't wait to ride him again'. I would think he'd stick at this trip. It would be rather fun if he ran in the Sussex (Goodwood). I wouldn't rule it out totally - it's a thought. I thought he ran a cracking race in the Lockinge and I thought he settled very well. My horses weren't right at the time and I thought he got the mile that day.”
Yet just a day later, the prospect of a tilt at the Sussex Stakes looked to be off the agenda, with Candy saying: “Limato, as is his wont, was still very excitable when he returned to the yard and was very chuffed with himself. He was throwing his head around and slightly banged the top of his head and also had a scrape near his eye. In view of all that, I’d say he probably took more out of himself than I originally thought and I think the Sussex will come too soon now.”
The Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville now looks a more realistic target, a route taken by several recent winners of the July Cup, including Muhaarar and Lethal Force. Should the ground in France come up softer than ideal, Candy has a ready-made replacement in Twilight Son.
Though Saturday’s ground proved ideal for Limato, it appeared not to suit Candy’s Diamond Jubilee hero, who trailed home in 14th place. Candy said after the race: “He was on the outside. Both were easy to spot, so I was able to watch them both. Martin Harley (Twilight Son's jockey) said he was never comfortable. It was a bad decision by me. I thought it would be just OK, but Martin said he was never comfortable.”
Yesterday the trainer added: “You could tell he'd had a race on ground firmer than he likes. He was a bit stiff and sore but he's cheerful enough.”
Of Saturday’s also-rans, David O’Meara was also leaning towards a trip to France with his French gelding Suedois, when saying: “He is a horse who appears to be getting better. He was probably over-priced really, because he was only beaten three-quarters of a length at Ascot and only beaten a length in the Duke Of York. He has confirmed he is right up there. The Prix Maurice de Gheest might be a race for him, but I am delighted with today’s run.”
Karl Burke was also delighted with his flying filly, the three-year-old Quiet Reflection. She looks less likely to be sent abroad, with Burke saying: “We are absolutely over the moon. This proves she is a very high class filly. Roll on the autumn and the Haydock Sprint Cup. We will be frightened of nobody on genuine good ground. She will strengthen again and will have at least two weeks without a saddle on now – just have a little rest and catch her breath before preparing her for an autumn campaign.”
The trainer added: “I don’t think we’ll go abroad with her this year. There is every chance if she is sound, she will stay in training next year. There has been a lot of people chasing her, but now her paddock value is there whenever we want it.”
Clive Cox was equally pleased with his King’s Stand hero Profitable, who came home a creditable fourth on Saturday, saying: “Full marks to Limato. That was impressive. To finish fourth, he has clearly finished his race off. I still think he is better over five in all honesty, but to say he didn’t get the trip would be nonsense. The Nunthorpe at York is the plan now. He is very adaptable and he has coped with softer ground that I thought possible.”