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Sole Power and Lethal Force could clash in Darley July Cup

28 Jun 2013

The winners of Royal Ascot's big sprints, Sole Power (King's Stand Stakes) and Lethal Force (Diamond Jubilee Stakes) may meet in the next QIPCO British Champions Series sprint at Newmarket.

Sole Power set to step up in trip in next month’s Darley JJuly Cup. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Sole Power, the Irish sprinter who last week flew home late to snatch a dramatic victory in the King’s Stand Stakes, is ‘all systems go’ for a tilt at the Darley July Cup, the centrepiece of the three-day Piper Heidsieck July Festival at Newmarket on Saturday July 13.

He is one of 28 horses remaining engaged in this prestigious Group 1 six-furlong contest, which has been won by Europe’s champion sprinter 25 times in the last 36 years.

The 28 include the 1st, 2nd and 3rd from both Royal Ascot sprints, the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee Stakes, and the winner of the Jersey Stakes, Gale Force Ten. The latter is trained by Aidan O’Brien who has left five in the race.

The race’s £500,000 total prize fund makes it Europe’s joint richest sprint and it is both the third and final British leg of the ten-race Global Sprint Challenge and a key event in the sprint division of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

"Sole Power has taken Royal Ascot in his stride and it’s all systems go for the July Cup,” said trainer Edward Lynam.

The King’s Stand was run over five furlongs and in only five of his 33 career starts has Sole Power attempted six furlongs and all without success, the latest in Hong Kong in 2011.

"We are very hopeful that he will last out the extra distance,” Lynam revealed.

"Johnny [Murtagh, his regular jockey] is very confident that he will stay the six furlongs and he settles so much better in his races nowadays so we have decided to give it a go.”

Quizzed about his charge’s suitability for the challenge that the July Course presents, Lynam responded: "It took a while but Sole Power finally seems to have got the hang of Newmarket’s Rowley Mile judged on his victory in the Palace House Stakes [on May 4], when he nearly broke the track record, and the neighbouring July Course is not so very different.”

Remarkably, given that he looks after a relatively small string at his County Meath base, Lynam is also responsible for three of Sole Power’s 27 potential rivals.

"We think a lot of Slade Power and he is our next most likely runner while Balmont Mast and Viztoria must be considered doubtful,” Lynam added.

"Slade Power is in fine form after Ascot [where he finished seventh in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes] but you would have to say that he needs to improve a good bit to win a race like the July Cup.”

The Clive Cox-trained Lethal Force, who made all to win the Diamond Jubilee, is set to take on the Lynam contingent in the Darley July Cup and face a rematch with the horse he beat last Saturday, Society Rock.

"I am thrilled to bits with Lethal Force,” Cox reported, "and, although the track holds slight concerns, it is such a valuable race that one feels drawn towards having a crack at the July Cup."

Cox has another contender in the shape of Reckless Abandon, who finished just over two lengths behind Sole Power when fifth in the King’s Stand.

"I am equally happy with the way he has come out of last week’s run,” Cox enthused.

"He’s the champion two-year-old and already a Group 1 winner over the six furlongs of the Rowley Mile, so the July Cup is an obvious option for him.”

The Darley July Cup has been a regular target for the world’s top sprinters in the past few years and, although you have to go back to 2000 to find the ground-breaking Japanese victory of Agnes World, intercontinental raiders have made the frame in three of its last four runnings.

This time around there are five entries from outside Europe – King’s Stand runner-up, Shea Shea, and stable companion Soft Falling Rain, who is unbeaten in seven starts, from Mike de Kock’s South African stables; the Diamond Jubilee third, Krypton Factor, from Bahrain; Shamexpress from Australia, who ran ninth in the King’s Stand but has always had the Darley July Cup as his main target; and Havelock from the USA who finished 11th in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.