07/13/2013 12:04PM

Newmarket: Lethal Force stakes claim as Europe's best sprinter with July Cup win


Four-year-old Lethal Force won only once in his first nine starts during 2011 and 2012, but he has figured things out now. Winning his second straight Group 1 on Saturday, Lethal Force staked a claim as Europe’s best sprinter with a front-running, 1 1/2-length victory in the $815,000 July Cup at Newmarket in England.

Lethal Force broke well and took early control of the six-furlong July Cup, racing along the stand’s side rail under jockey Adam Kirby. Kirby said the gray colt lost focus a quarter-mile out, and “jinked” when Kirby used his crop to get Lethal Force back on track. But Lethal Force never came close to surrendering his lead, running out to a comfortable victory over Society Rock, who closed up the fence under Kieren Fallon. The same two horses finished first and second month at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Lethal Force was timed in 1:09.11 on good-to-firm going, breaking a course record established by Stravinsky in 1999. Slade Power finished third, edging Shea Shea, who failed to reproduce his best South African and Dubai form as the tepid race favorite. Krypton Factor reared and broke through the starting gate, and was not permitted to run.

Trained by Clive Cox for owner Alan Craddock, Lethal Force is an Irish-bred son of Dark Angel. He started mainly in seven-furlong races during 2012, winning the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes over Strong Suit at that trip, but Lethal Force has found his comfort zone in six-furlong dashes this year. A fast-ground lover, he also has benefitted from a much drier racing season than was the case in 2012.

Alajmaheer wins Summer Stakes

Alajmaaheer, second and third in recent Group 1 tries, found his proper level Saturday at Ascot and posted a one-length victory in the Group 2 Summer Stakes.

A 4-year-old Dubawi colt trained by Roger Varian for Hamdan al Maktoum, Alajmaheer was taken back by jockey Paul Hanagan toward the rear of an 11-horse field shortly after the start. Hanagan did not ask Alajmaaheer for his best until the final furlong, when he produced a good rally to beat Mull of Killough by one length. Guest of Honor finished third, and Trade Storm was fourth. Afsare, runner-up in the 2012 Arlington Million, was a late withdrawal from the race.

Alajmaheer, a possible runner in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, ran a quick mile in 1:38.51.

Flintshire takes Grand Prix de Paris

Trainer Andre Fabre appears to have the two best 3-year-olds in France after Flintshire thoroughly dominated the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris on Saturday at Longchamp.

Fabre won the French Derby this year with Intello, who has been hugely impressive in his own right, but it was difficult to fault Flintshire’s performance Saturday. Held up near the back of an eight-horse field by jockey Maxime Guyon, Flintshire was given his head only when turning into the homestretch of the 1 1/2-mile race. Flintshire quickly accelerated into contention on the outside, blowing past his rivals to make the lead before the furlong pole, and went on for a 1 1/2-length victory over Manndawi.

Ocovango, fifth in the Epsom Derby, finished a decent but one-paced fifth.

Flintshire, a Juddmonte Farms homebred by Dansili, was making only his fourth start – all this season – and his first at the Group 1 level. He is 3 for 3 now on good ground but finished second over soft turf in a conditions race in June. Flintshire, along with Intello, is a candidate for the Prix de l’Arc d’Triomphe this fall and is likely to make his next start in the Group 1 Prix Niel.