Lethal Force one of the world's best sprinter after July Cup rout
Lethal Force can now be truly acknowledged as one of the world's premier sprinters as he cracked the Newmarket track record in the Darley July Cup.
Ridden beautifully from the front by Adam Kirby to steal a maiden Group One win in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot three weeks' earlier, the grey's jockey used the same tactics again and not one of his cosmopolitan opponents was capable of catching him.
While conditions were as conducive as they ever would be for a fast time, a measure of Lethal Force's standing can be given by the fact he covered the six furlongs in 1.09.11 - some four-tenths of a second quicker than European Champion Sprinter Stravinsky managed back in 1999.
Lethal Force (9-2) careered along the stands rail and evaded all challenges by a length and a half despite his fellow Group One stars Society Rock and 3-1 favourite Shea Shea throwing everything they had at him.
Trainer Clive Cox can now sift through some pretty tempting options, while he also has Reckless Abandon recovering on the sidelines.
"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," said Cox.
"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'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 just take it a step at a time."
Owner Alan Craddock said: "They'll still say Adam stole the race but he's shown he's such a good horse. He's the horse of a lifetime for us."
Society Rock, who beat Lethal Force on unfavourable terms in May's Duke of York Stakes, picked up second.
Trainer James Fanshawe, who had a recent spell in hospital, said: "He ran really well and I'm so proud of how the team have prepared him since I've not been around. It's the most consistent he has ever been.
"We'll see how he is, we'll look at Haydock (Sprint Cup) but there might be a race in between via the Maurice de Gheest."
Eddie Lynam's Slade Power was third, ahead of his more established stablemate Sole Power in fifth, while South African raider Shea Shea (fourth) will revert to the minimum trip having been just a neck behind Sole Power in the King's Stand Stakes.
Trainer Mike de Kock said: "I just don't think he's a six-furlong horse. He has won over that trip in South Africa, but really beating nothing.
"He couldn't show that burst of speed over six, so we'll go on to the Nunthorpe and the Prix de l'Abbaye."
Bahraini hope Krypton Factor was withdrawn after an incident in the gates and his jockey Luke Morris said: "He reared up, kicked the stalls and they opened very easily. It's very frustrating as he had form with all those at the front."
It was a magical day for Kirby as he had earlier helped Field Of Dream (14-1), drawn on the wrong side when an unlucky sixth in the Royal Hunt Cup, avenge that defeat in the 32Red Bunbury Cup. A little gloss, though, was the receipt of a four-day whip ban ban (July 28-30, August 1).
Always close with the pace towards the far rail, he made Es Que Love suffer in exactly the same way as he did at the hands of Prince Of Johanne at Sandown last weekend by collaring him close home.
Winning owner Ken Gundlach said: "He ran well at Ascot and we were aiming him for Ascot in two weeks' time (Betfair International Handicap).
"We decided to run him here first as it then gave us a couple of tries at a big race, and it has paid off."
Richard Fahey's speculative entry for Good Old Boy Lukey in the 32Red.com Superlative Stakes paid off delightfully.
There was market confidence for his unbeaten juvenile at 7-2, but this Group Two event was worlds away from his previous outings at Hamilton and Newcastle.
The long-striding son of Selkirk tracked Somewhat, with Ryan Moore getting that little extra out of his mount to beat the 11-4 favourite by a head.
Fahey: "That was just the job. To be honest, he was so well after the Newcastle race we thought we'd take a punt and take him here. He's quite a tall horse and we're not doing a lot with him at home, we're just learning about him as we go along."
Fahey and Moore doubled up with Dutch Courage (5-4 favourite) in the Spa At Bedford Lodge Hotel Nursery, while Saeed Bin Suroor will find Emirates Flyer (8-11 favourite) a seven-furlong Listed race after his narrow verdict in the Rossdales E.B.F. Conditions Stakes.
Richard Hannon's Law Enforcement (9-1) has struggled with his penalties for winning last year's Group One Grand Criterium in Italy but was found an opportunity in lesser company in the 32Red Casino Handicap.