NEWMARKET, England // Once again the international challengers came up short in the Darley July Cup, won in emphatic style by Lethal Force on Saturday.
Lethal Force had shown at Royal Ascot 22 days ago that he had the right blend of speed and stamina to be a sensation at the highest level and once again he powered home from the front to defeat Society Rock, his victim in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. It all looked too easy and the clock agreed as Lethal Force broke Stravinsky's 14-year track record.
Slade Power was third for Ireland in the six-furlong event, with Shea Shea the first of the international contingent home in fourth ahead of Sole Power, his King's Stand Stakes conqueror.
Since Agnes World handed Japan their first Group 1 success in Britain 13 years ago there had been 17 horses from outside Europe that had tried and failed. Shea Shea joined that list but trainer Mike De Kock is determined that the Al Quoz Sprint winner tacks on a European Group 1 before the end of the season.
"He was tested today and he never got home," the South African trainer said. "He doesn't have the same kick over five furlongs. He had form over six and seven furlongs in South Africa but he didn't beat anything there really – they were not the calibre of these horses.
"We'll look at the Nunthorpe Stakes at York next and possibly the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc weekend.
"Those flatter, faster tracks will suit him perfectly."
Neither of those races will be on the agenda for Lethal Force, who is likely to head to France for the Prix Maurice de Gheest over a half a furlong farther at Deauville next month.
With the likes of the Australian raider Shamexpress and the American runner Havelock all beaten, Clive Cox was confident that the four-year-old grey could match the best international sprinters.
"Beyond the Prix Maurice de Gheest we've had lots of kind invitations from as far afield as Australia and Hong Kong," Cox said. "I don't see why he wouldn't have the temperament for long distance travel."
Lethal Force was set to face 11 others but that was whittled down to 10 when Krypton Factor slipped under the gate before the start.
The starting officials did not wait to reload the 2012 Dubai Golden Shaheen hero, who will be kept on the go by trainer Fawzi Nass when a suitable opportunity is found.
Adam Kirby immediately grabbed the stands's side rail on Lethal Force and not much changed as he set a steady pace for the first four furlongs.
Kirby then gave his mount the signal to go for home with a flick of the whip and despite the best efforts of Keiren Fallon on Society Rock his late run diminished the gap to a length and a half at the line.
"I jumped out, got into a beautiful rhythm and things went nicely to plan but he had no concentration just after the two pole," Kirby said. "When I gave him a smack he jinked, he nearly slipped, he wasn't expecting it. He's so fast."
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