Darley July Cup (Group 1)

ROB Hornby will remember this July Festival with great fondness, as he backed up his first domestic Group 1 success on Friday, by landing the meeting’s feature aboard Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free.

Platinum Jubilee Stakes winner Naval Crown (Charlie Appleby/James Doyle) made most of the running on the far side and that gave a perfect tow into the race for Alcohol Free, who travelled better than she had on her return to sprinting behind Naval Crown at Ascot.

When asked for her effort by Hornby, she surged to the front and drew on to beat the Godolphin colt by a length and a half at an SP of 14/1.

Artorius (Anthony and Sam Freedman/Jamie Spencer) was a little outpaced mid-race, but stayed on best to claim third, two lengths adrift of the impressive winner.

The 9/4 favourite Perfect Power was never travelling as he did in the Commonwealth Cup and finished a disappointing seventh under Christophe Soumillon.

On target

Alcohol Free was reported afterwards to be on target for a defence of her Sussex Stakes crown at Glorious Goodwood, a reminder of the sporting nature of her veteran owner Jeff Smith, who landed both the July Cup and Sussex Stakes with Chief Singer four decades ago.

Hornby was renewing his association with the winning filly due to Oisin Murphy’s season-long suspension, having ridden her once as a juvenile, and he was quick to recall the chance given to him by Balding as a youngster:

“This is great,” he said, beaming in the winners’ enclosure. “I began my career with Andrew, and they’ve all been fantastic to me since I went there at 16. 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.”