In a season which has exploded in recent weeks for trainer Henry Candy – known nowadays for his adeptness with sprinters – things were only to get better for the Kingston Warren handler on the third and final day of Newmarket’s July meeting.
His four-year-old gelding Limato took the step down in trip from a mile in his stride to seal his first Group 1 success in the Darley July Cup.
In what looked an open renewal beforehand, the Hong Kong-challenger Mongolian Saturday, took the 18-strong field along in the early stages at what looked a decent pace.
Limato travelled supremely well in the hands of Harry Bentley just in behind the leaders while Candy’s other hope Twilight Son raced on the wing towards the stands side. As the leaders began to weaken with two furlongs to go, Limato moved up menacingly and showed a potent turn of foot to stretch clear of his rivals.
Despite hanging quite markedly towards the stands side in the closing stages, he had sealed an unassailable lead to win by a comfortable two lengths from Suedois and the Commonwealth Cup winner, Quiet Reflection.
The son of Tagula had showed high-class form over sprint trips last season when finishing second in the Commonwealth Cup behind the unstoppable Muhaarar. He was duly stepped up to seven furlongs thereafter and won the Park Stakes at Doncaster in eye-catching fashion. His return this season in the Lockinge may have proved a trip too far, although he still ran respectably in fourth for owner Paul Jacobs.
For jockey Harry Bentley, who is still very much in the early stages of his career, this victory comes as his biggest to date, in a season which has been a transitional one for the 23-year-old following the end of his retainership with Sheikh Fahad and Qatar Racing.
Yet, he has developed a good relationship with a number of trainers this year including the likes of Roger Varian, Charlie Appleby and Candy.
“I got a good position and he took me there almost too well,” reflected Bentley. “I had to commit with him and I knew in the back of my mind he does get further. But to be able to do what he did in a Group 1 and still win shows his class.”
While Twilight Son was unable to fire on the quicker surface, he still contributed to what is now two Group 1 sprint wins this season for Candy.
The latter half of the season will look rosy as options at the highest-level open up for Limato, with the trainer even suggesting a step back up to a mile would not be ruled out.
He’s exciting isn’t he and it was absolutely amazing to watch
Candy said: “He’s exciting isn’t he and it was absolutely amazing to watch.
“In the Park Stakes last year over seven it was special but to do it over six against that lot is amazing.”
Earlier in the afternoon, the Charlie Appleby-trained Boynton battled back in terrific style to repel the challenge of Ballydoyle hot-favourite War Decree, in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes.
Positioned towards the rear by Adam Kirby, the two-year-old son of More Than Ready was sent to the lead with just over two furlongs to go, and although headed within the final furlong, found extra to assert by just under a length, continuing the rich vain of form for the yard.