Godolphin’s Harry Angel withstood the test of racing against older opponents and in the process ended Caravaggio’s unbeaten run of six races to win the Group 1 July Cup in scintillating style at Newmarket on Saturday.
Usually an out-and-out front-runner, his jockey Adam Kirby restrained the Dark Angel colt to be drawn into a battle with pacemaker Intelligence Cross for the lead early in the 1,200-metre trip.
Having bided his time, Kirby sent Harry Angel to the front approaching the 200m pole and there was no looking back as they went clear and flashed past the winning post a length and-a-quarter ahead of Limato, last year's winner. Brando was a further half-length back in third ahead of Caravaggio as Harry Angel avenged his defeat to Aiden O'Brien's charge in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot three weeks ago.
“I've always had it in my mind he's the best,” Kirby of his mount. “He'd have won last time [at Royal Ascot], 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 way it was. To be fair to the horse, the race at Ascot really brought him forward and he's gone from a boy to a man.
“The race 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. I'm delighted for Clive [Cox, the trainer] as he's a top man and he's always stuck by me.”
Cox was bullish of his colt even before the race.
“He's always been a special horse,” he said. “It's just taken kid gloves to get him going, but we always hoped he'd be Group 1 material and he is.
“Although he was beaten at Ascot and Adam was quite disappointed, the look in the horse's eye when he came off the track, it was almost like 'OK guys, I'm getting this'. Coming here today I was very confident in his whole demeanour.
“I'm so thrilled for the whole team at home and for [the owner] Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai] on his birthday. I've not needed an alarm clock since I've had this horse and it's just a joy to be involved with top-flight horses.”
Harry Angel holds the 1,200m course record at Haydock and Cox earmarked the Sprint Cup back on Merseyside as the next target.
Elsewhere at the Curragh, the John Gosden-trained Enable under Frankie Dettori won the Irish Oaks to add to the English equivalent to become the first filly to complete the double since Snow Fairy in 2010.
The O’Brien-trained Rain Goddess was second ahead of Dermont Weld’s Eziyra. Godolphin’s Bean Feasa finished eighth in the 10-runner field over 2,400m.