Rob Hornby’s fine July Festival continued as he partnered Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free to victory in the Darley July Cup Stakes at Newmarket.
Hornby had never won a Group One on home soil until steering Prosperous Voyage to capsize Inspiral on Friday Afternoon – but doubled his tally in the space of barely 24 hours as the daughter of No Nay Never ran out a convincing winner.
It was Platinum Jubilee Stakes winner Naval Crown who made most of the running towards the far side and that proved the place to be as the winner swooped past entering the final furlong, leaving Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old no option but to raise the white flag, with Alcohol Free drawing a length and a half clear at the line.
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Alcohol Free (14/1), who was down the field in ninth in the Platinum Jubilee behind Naval Crown at Royal Ascot, was making only her second start back down at six furlongs since winning the Cheveley Park Stakes as a two-year-old.
She now has plenty of options, with Paddy Power going 6/1 for the Betfair Sprint Cup, while 14/1 is on offer with Coral for a defence of her Sussex Stakes crown at Glorious Goodwood.
It was a similar story to Royal Ascot for third-placed Artorius, with the Australian raider unable to make the required ground having been held up in the early stages, while 9/4 favourite Perfect Power was never travelling with any zest and finished a disappointing seventh.
Hornby said: “This is great, I began my career with Andrew and they’ve all been fantastic to me since I went there at 16.
“It was an experiment over six today. We’ve considered it and she’s always had plenty of speed but has been so good over a mile. The thinking is that in this race her stamina would kick in up the hill, she’d see it out really well and that is what happened.
“This was always going to be her race over six, then the ground started to get quick but it just goes to show her guts and bravery and how tough she is and she’s got form on all ground now.
“Two Group Ones in two days, who’d have thought it? It’s been a crazy year but I’m in a very privileged position to ride top-class horses. So many people helped me to get here.”
Neither trainer nor owner were present on the July Course to witness the success, but Balding’s wife Anna Lisa said: “Jeff has always said six furlongs is the right trip, so he deserves a lot of credit and I don’t know what Rob has been eating for breakfast, but I want some!
“Rob is a huge part of the team and Ralph (Beckett, trainer of Prosperous Voyage) is a great friend of ours so we’re lucky we can share him.
“We’ll see how she comes out of the race and Jeff and Andrew will discuss the Sussex Stakes.
“She’s such a lovely filly, quirky but we all love her – she’s so special and has done a lot for us.”