Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
Adam Kirby and Clive Cox had high hopes of taking a Group 1 sprint prize home from Ascot this week. Unable to do that with the highly-rated Reckless Abandon in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes, they would claim Group 1 glory with a considerably underrated Lethal Force in Saturday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
In winning the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last year, Lethal Force produced a dominant front running display by slipping the field with a considerable injection of pace with two furlongs to go. To many, that performance was a fluke, a performance which was alleged to have benefited from the jockeys behind giving him to much rope, but the performance in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes today mirrored that effort and no horse could get near him.
Consistent at the highest level, Society Rock has proved himself as a force to be reckoned with in this events. A winner of the traditional key trial, the Duke of York Stakes, Society Rock came carrying the hopes of the James Fanshawe yard in a bid to regain the title that was rightfully his in 2011. However, despite the superb ride by Kieren Fallon in keeping his mount perfectly poised throughout, he could not match the runaway performance of Clive Cox's sprinting sensation.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing; The history books will show Society Rock as the winner of the Duke of York Stakes of 2013 but they may not be so clear in showing the closeness of Lethal Force in the same event. A nose back in second place, Lethal Force had readily indicated his well being in that event yet was sent off at three times the price by the British betting public due to a return to level weights with his rival in this contest.
"He hits the gates so well that sometimes it's hard to hold him back," said winning trainer Clive Cox. "It wasn't the plan to be in front like that and I was a bit worried that the field would swamp him at some point."
"He was having a blow in front and when Adam sent him on he was explosive. It was clear that he was a potent force when winning the Hungerford Stakes last year and showed just how good he was over six furlongs last time. It was a very authoritive victory and it's very special to win a Group One like this on home territory. He's in the July Cup but I'm not sure Newmarket is his track so we'll have a think. There are options here as well as abroad."
"The only man I've got to thank is Clive Cox," said jockey Adam Kirby, who was winning his first Group 1. "I said I was going to drop the horse in and Clive told me to do whatever I wanted. He has a very high cruising speed and it's unbelievable the way he does things. Everybody said it was a fluke when he won the Hungerford but it wasn't. He's a much more solid horse now too."
2012 Golden Shaheen victor Krypton Factor was back to his very best in third with his trainer looking to target the July Cup at Newmarket on his next start. A race that 2013 King's Stand Stakes second placed finisher Shea Shea also looks to target.
"We came here direct from Dubai and he'll improve again from that," said Fawzi Nass. "We have based ourselves near Newmarket to campaign this horse so the next race will be a bit closer to home. We'll look to the July Cup."
Eighth in the race after travelling over from Australia, Group 1 winning filly Sea Siren will transfer to the stable of Aidan O'Brien for a European sprint campaign on Monday.
"She's got a bit tired up the run in. It's a learning experience and we are happy with the way she has done since she has been here," said trainer John O'Shea. "She goes to Aidan on Monday and I've just had a chat with him to help him get a feel for her."