Newmarket // Fleeting Spirit comprehensively turned the tables on her Royal Ascot conqueror, Scenic Blast, with a dominant display in yesterday's controversial Group 1 July Cup. Scenic Blast, who had beaten Fleeting Spirit in the King's Stand Stakes last month, spearheaded an impressive cast of foreign raiders for the third leg of the Global Sprint challenge.
The Australian gelding was supported by compatriot Takeover Target, and France and South Africa were represented by African Rose and JJ The Jet Plane, trained by Mike de Kock. Yet despite all of the foreign talent on show it was clear by the halfway mark of this six-furlong showpiece that the July Cup was staying at home. One by one Fleeting Spirit's challengers emptied out, and by the final furlong only the Khalid Abdullah-owned Main Aim could be described as a realistic rival.
Tom Queally, Fleeting Spirit's jockey, tried to give his mount one last encouragement with the whip, but it had an adverse effect. Fleeting Spirit jinked badly right, crashing into Main Aim 150metres from the line. She straightened up to pass the post one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Main Aim. JJ The Jet Plane proved the best of the foreign challenge half a length back in third. "That was one heck of a bump. He was badly interfered with," said Sir Michael Stoute, Main Aim's trainer.
It was not a view that the stewards agreed with, however, and after lengthy deliberation it was announced that Fleeting Spirit was the first filly to lift the cup since Frizzante five years ago. Fleeting Spirit's trainer, Jeremy Noseda, had nothing but praise for Queally. "The jockey rode a great race today," he said. "He just got there a bit too soon as she idles in front. If she hadn't jinked in the final furlong I think she would have won by three lengths."
A lot had been expected of Scenic Blast and Takeover Target, so much so that the Newmarket executive had offered a two for one deal on tickets to Australians brandishing passport proof. "It's good to send the Australians packing," Noseda continued. "That was a great run today and the filly deserved it. This is the sort of moment you do this job for." It wasn't such a good day for the UAE, however. There were 23 horses that were saddled in UAE colours at the Suffolk track yesterday. Only Godolphin's Lamh Albasser found his way into the winners' enclosure. Ridden by Frankie Dettori, the two-year-old gelding put a field of nine runners to the sword. It was Dettori's fourth winner.