Harry Angel hailed as ‘pretty special’ after Darley July Cup win at Newmarket
- Credit: PA
Many promises are made and often broken, but the one issued by Clive Cox that there was more to come from Harry Angel proved correct following his victory in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
Despite having work to do to reverse the form with his Commonwealth Cup conqueror Caravaggio, the son of Dark Angel showed he had come forward from his Ascot defeat when lowering the colours of Aidan O’Brien’s flying machine to land a first Group One success.
After being hassled throughout his last run by Ballydoyle second-string Intelligence Cross, there was no such problem on this occasion with the 9-2 winner, looking a little more relaxed than last month, sitting just off the pace-setting outsider.
The warning signs that a first defeat could be on the cards for Caravaggio became apparent more than a quarter of a mile out, with Ryan Moore hard at work on the 10-11 favourite, while Adam Kirby carved out a contrasting picture on Harry Angel.
Pressing the ‘go’ button approaching the final furlong the response was everything and more that Kirby could have wished for, with the change into top gear almost instantaneous.
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Although last year’s winner Limato attempted to mount a late challenge, he could not get not close, with a length and a quarter splitting the pair at the line. Brando was a further half a length away in third and Caravaggio a short-head back in fourth.
Cox, who teamed up to win the race with Kirby back in 2013 through Lethal Force, said: “I am delighted for the horse and the team at home. The whole day has been surreal. We were pleased going into the race at Ascot, but he is growing up. I think he has become a man and he has certainly proved that today.
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“It was an achievement to beaten three-quarters of a length by Caravaggio and I am pleased we have taken his scalp today.
“He is pretty special. They are all unique. Lethal Force was exceptional breaking the track record when think how many wonderful horses have been down this track. To have one this good is very special again.
“I guess Haydock (Sprint Cup) would be very much on the cards and he is very easy and is not ground dependent. He is very versatile and we are lucky in that respect. This is one of the nicest July Cups I’ve seen in my lifetime and I’m proud to win it.”
As for Kirby, the belief Harry Angel would come of age on the big stage never wavered.
He said: “I’ve always had it in my mind he’s the best. He’d have won last time, without a shadow of a doubt, but we were a little bit unfortunate with the way the race turned out. I came back saying I should have won last time and it was in the bottom of my heart that today, he’d show them.
“The race today couldn’t have gone any better. He was pretty strong, but I got him half where I wanted him and then he quickened and showed how good he is. I can’t express how good he is.
“I’m really excited. Thanks to everyone for letting me keep the ride on him, it means the world to me.”
Henry Candy, trainer of Limato, was delighted with the performance of the five-year-old gelding in his bid for a repeat success and pointed to a potential rematch with the winner at Haydock in September.
He said: “I think Harry Angel is a very good horse, but Harry Bentley was very positive and said he felt as good as he ever. He moved well on the ground and did everything right, it’s just that Harry Angel went quicker.
“There will be no more five furlongs for him. It will be the Sprint Cup if it’s dry and the Foret if it’s dry.”
After watching Brando bounce back from a lifeless effort at York back in May, Kevin Ryan pointed to a trip to France for the five-year-old.
He said: “He could have done with a bit more cut in the ground. The obvious race for him would be the Maurice de Gheest. He would have got another furlong today. I would like to come back for Champions Day at Ascot.”
O’Brien, meanwhile, pointed to a slow start possible hindering Caravaggio’s bid to make it seven wins from as many starts.
He said: “He ran very well. Ryan said he was a little bit slow out the gates and that probably left him a bit on the back foot. I’m not making any excuses.”
Earlier, Gustav Klimt was made to pull out all the stops to justify his cramped odds in the bet365 Superlative Stakes. Nebo hit the front in the final furlong, but the 5-6 favourite was really rolling against the far rail and got up to beat him by a head.