Kirby delivers shock win at Newbury

Mount Athos odds slashed for Melbourne Cup following decisive success

By Leslie Wolson Jr, Racing & Special Features Writer
19:34 August 18, 2012

Dubai: Lethal Force maintained the three-year-olds’ impressive record in the Hungerford Stakes when he made all the running to record a shock win over Strong Suit at Newbury racecourse on Saturday.

Given a cheeky front-running ride by Adam Kirby, the 25-1 shot saw off the late challenge thrown down by Ryan Moore aboard Strong Suit to prevail by a neck, while the Qatari-owned Alanza was a noteworthy third.

Three-year-olds have now won three of the last four runnings of the Hungerford and Lethal Force’s trainer Clive Cox was delighted with the brave performance of his Irish-bred colt.

“I’m thrilled, this is just fantastic for all the team,” he told Racing UK. “This is what it’s all about, Adam gave him a great ride. He’s a horse with a lot of class and he showed that today.”

Jockey Kirby described his winner as a smart horse. “Today we decided to let him go. He is a horse with a lot of heart. He really battled well and deserved to win this,” he said.

Godolphin favourite Soul could only finish sixth of nine under Frankie Dettori.

Earlier in the evening, Luca Cumani’s Melbourne Cup hopeful Mount Athos sounded a warning to his would-be rivals in Australia’s most famous race when he stormed to a comfortable victory in the Group 2 Geoffrey Freer Stakes.

The five-year-old son of Montjeu was recording his third win of the season and has shown improvement in every start.

Given a confident ride by Ryan Moore, who drove him to seize control of the mile and five furlong contest, he stayed on strongly inside the closing stages to win by three-and-a-half lengths from Brown Panther.

Godolphin’s former Melbourne Cup contender Modun was a spirited third under Dettori after being held up in the rear before he was asked for his effort at the two furlong marker. He stayed on to finish four lengths behind Brown Panther.

Moore told Racing UK: “It was a tough race, they went off quite hard and I wanted to get cover on this horse. We were racing a long way out and it happened nice enough in the end.”

Cumani was typically stoic about his Melbourne Cup prospects. “He looks the best I’ve taken down, but you need a better horse these days. Gone are the days when you take an Ebor Handicap type of horse,” he said.

“It’s a proper Group One race now with the weights pushed up so much. He’s as good a chance as I’ve ever had.”

Mount Athos is a 10-1 chance with Sky Bet to win the Melbourne Cup.