Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
Sprinting isn't something us British have been particularly good at in the past. We enjoy it, and our attempts at soaring towards the top are most certainly commendable, but we ultimately flounder as our athletes are transformed into trees rooted to the spot by nations whom continue to transform competitive contests into a series of processions that barely see them breaking sweat.
I guess we have to be honest - we just haven't been very quick in the past - but times are changing.
Usain Bolt remains the man to beat, a sprinter that has drawn the masses back to the world of athletics with a display of utmost dominance after years of drug-based dispute inside the sport, but the British are finally fighting back with an effort of intriguing proportions. Unknown to the international spectrum of athletics, James Dasaolu's time of 9.91 seconds over the flagship athletics distance of 100m this month introduces him to the world as the second fastest sprinter in British history, second only to Linford Christie, and it isn't just human athletes that are bucking the trend.
This year has marked an exciting re-entry by Britain into the sprinting stratosphere as we hunt high and low for that one elusive sprinter who can put the word 'great' back in Great Britain. At the start of the year we turned our attentions to Clive Cox in the hope that he could provide the next star sprinter of the British season. With the undefeated Reckless Abandon in his stable, hopes were high that Cox could produce what the British sprinting division had longed for and Cox has not disappointed.
The hopes and dreams of Reckless Abandon remain on hold after two creditable performances in highly competitive five furlong sprints, but it instead the under-rated, often-doubted, Lethal Force whom has grabbed British racing by the scruff of the next and run away with it again and again.
Victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot was perfectly complimented next time by a runaway victory in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. A tough track to master, Clive Cox had been vocal in concerns over sending his star sprinter to this leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, yet he was rewarded with a track record in the Group 1 contest and a record that he can forever cherish, none more so because he continued to believe in the colt as others wrote him off a fluke winner of black-type contests.
However, Lethal Force hadn't always harboured the hallmarks of a top class sprinter. Bred by Rathasker Stud in County Kildare, Ireland on behalf of their clients Declan and Mary Johnson, Lethal Force was sold as a yearling at the Irish sales for a minimal sum which would soon reap large rewards for the eventual owners, The Craddock Family. "I remember Lethal Force well, as a foal he was a strong, well made colt," said Maurice Burns of Rathasker Stud at which Lethal Force was bred on behalf of their clients Declan and Mary Johnson. "He toed out a bit and was a little off-set of his knees with an average, sprinter-like walk but he had a good temperament. At the sales he had an average number of shows but none of the big hitters looked. We put a reserve of €8,000 on the colt and he sold for €9,500 to John Egan."
"I bought Land Army [Lethal Force's dam] in foal to Kyllachy on behalf of Declan [Johnson - breeder of Lethal Force] at the Tattersalls December mare sale in 2005 for £28,000. I bought her as she was medium sized, strong muscled, typical of her sire Desert Style, from a precocious family and in foal to a good sprinter. When it came to mating to mares in 2008, we looked at possible commercial first season sires and, with Acclamation doing so well, we decided on Dark Angel. I thought Dark Angel would work well with the physique of Land Army as he is tall, with scope and a good step."
"Land Army has a Dubai Destination filly foal, who is closely related to G2 winner Family One, and Declan and Mary [Johnson] intend to keep this filly and race her. Land Army is also currently in foal to Helmet [Darley stallion]."
America, Australia, Hong Kong; wherever Lethal Force is sent next he looks to be a potent force and with Australia currently suffering from the cavernous absence of Black Caviar amongst a lacklustre sprinting division of their own, maybe the time has come for Great Britain to deliver a blow synonymous of that the Southern Hemisphere nation often deliver at our own prestigious Royal Ascot festival.
Victory by Lethal Force in Australia is not guaranteed, nowhere near so, and a raid on Australia would be similar in comparison to Dasaolu raiding the Jamaican National Championships in hope of claiming the top prize against the best sprint nation in the land, but the desire of Cox to succeed on foreign shores with a sprinter who continues to develop and improve in an exciting manner is one which British racing can cherish. Cox was clear after the four year old's victory at Royal Ascot that this is a sprinter to compete at the highest level, a contender for world titles and dominations aplenty.
Owned by a father and son partnership whom lack the monetary firepower of Godolphin, Juddmonte and Qatar Racing, the story of Lethal Force has ultimately made dreams come true and at a time in which British racing needs a new star Lethal Force has provided a great asset for the sport. Just how many more dreams can come true, however, is down to the Craddock family as their whirlwind story continues.