When Alcohol Free finished mid-division in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, it seemed possible that the attempt to turn Andrew Balding’s Group 1 winning miler into a Group 1 winning sprinter would be quietly scrapped.
But Jeff Smith, owner and breeder of Alcohol Free, had other ideas and his filly turned out to be a very fast learner. The four-year-old was sent off with a 14-1 shot for the July Cup here on Saturday against a field that included several of the horses that beat her at Ascot and she turned the form around with something to spare.
Naval Crown, narrow winner of the Platinum Jubilee, got into the run and Alcohol Free, set up just behind him by Rob Hornby, seemed much more comfortable in the sprint than he was three weeks older early. Naval Crown had no response when Hornby sent her ahead just over a mile, eventually finishing a length and a half behind Alcohol Free with Artorius, third at Ascot, trailing behind to take the same place here.
Neither Smith nor Andrew Balding were in Newmarket to enjoy his success, but Anna Lisa Balding, the trainer’s wife, said much of the kudos belonged to the owner.
“Jeff has always said six furlongs is the right trip, so he deserves a lot of credit,” she said. “She’s such a pretty filly, eccentric but we all love her. She very rarely disappoints and she has a big heart.
It was also a good time for Hornby, who was still looking for the first Group One winner of his career on Friday morning and may still be bruised after losing the race on Westover, the Derby’s third home, before the colt’s success in the Irish derby a fortnight ago.
Less than 48 hours later, Hornby is a double winner at the highest level, having added to his upset win over Prosperous Voyage in Friday’s Falmouth Stakes with another major victory at double-digit odds.
“Two Group Ones in two days, who would have thought?,” said Hornby. “It’s been a crazy year but I’m in a very privileged position to ride top class horses.
“The idea is that in this race her endurance would show up the hill, she would see it very well and that’s what happened. The ground started to get fast, but that just shows her courage and her bravery and how tough she is.
Alcohol Free is now set to move up a mile in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood later this month, a race it won 12 months ago when first-class colts Baaeed, unbeaten in eight starts, and Coroebus , the 2,000 Guineas winner, are probably adversaries.
Brian Meehan’s Manton stable have been short of a genuine Group 1 horse for several seasons, but the trainer believes he may have found a potential Classic contender in Isaac Shelby, who edged out Victory Dance , the favourite, by a header in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes. .
It was Meehan’s first Group 2 success since Barraquero won the Richmond at Glorious Goodwood almost five years ago and he sees Isaac Shelby as a ‘two-year-old four racer’ who will at least have a start at Group 1 level this season.
“He’s the company, I think, he’s really special,” Meehan said. “He might even be a Guineas horse.
“It’s high end here and it’s really proven itself. You are taking it step by step but he is a horse that will continue to improve, physically there is still massive improvement there.
“Goodwood would be too soon but Doncaster [for the Champagne Stakes in early September] is definitely a race I’ve been thinking about, and I love the Breeders’ Cup, so Juvenile Turf [at Keeneland in November] will also take this into account.
On a busy day of racing across the country, Anmaat paid tribute to his coach, Owen Burrows, by winning the John Smith’s Cup at York, one of the most valuable and competitive handicaps of the season, after a break of 287 days.
The 5-1 co-favorite held off a half-length and a neck from Achelois and Intellogent, who was closest to the finish after battling for the right to run at the two-yard post.
#Alcohol #Free #returns #style #win #Newmarkets #July #Cup