Harry Bentley celebrates winning the July Cup on LimatoPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Limato blasts clear to
give Candy sweet success
Report: Newmarket, Saturday
Darley July Cup (British Champions Series and Global Sprint Challenge) (Group 1) 6f, 3yo+
PAUL JACOBS has always known he will never own another horse as good as Limato. It was why he turned down seven figure offers for the gelding.
His bravery was vindicated at Newmarket on Saturday in the most glorious fashion as his pride and joy led him into the winner's enclosure after a Group 1 race - a mere 26 years after the fantasy was formed.
If it was the day of days for the retired 70-year-old former solicitor, it was a coming of age for Limato - who is so named after Jacobs's wife Linda and late parents Marjorie and Tom.
If he dazzled at two, winning Redcar's Two-Year-Old Trophy on the bridle, then he flattered to deceive at three with defeats in the Commonwealth Cup and Prix de la Foret at the hands of Muhaarar and Make Believe. A fourth, in the Lockinge, first time out this season made it three defeats in Group 1 company.
Yet his remarkable trainer Henry Candy remained convinced he was a proper horse capable of a proper performance. All that was needed, he was sure, was proper summer ground. And so Royal Ascot was skipped, Limato was dropped in trip, and on a fast surface he proved beyond all reasonable doubt that he possessed speed to burn, bursting clear of the highest-quality field assembled for a British Group 1 this century to justify 9-2 favouritism - with two lengths to spare.
If that sounds authoritative, it is because it was. His big-race partner Harry Bentley, who like Jacobs was winning a first British Group 1, was the last to move - and when he did his mount shot clear in a matter of strides. If it sounds straightforward it was not, as his mount then veered quite alarmingly - going from travelling up on the far side of the group to finishing on the stands' rail.
It is a reflection of how far clear of his rivals he was that he caused no interference and explaining the incident Bentley said: "He knew where he'd come out of the paddock and he's a clever sod. To do that in a Group 1 and still win like that shows how good he is."
Sussex Stakes next?
Where he goes next is more open to debate. Having seen off a field featuring five Group 1 winners he clearly possesses all the raw minerals for sprinting. But with the next Group 1 not until September - and his need for fast ground - Candy raised the possibility of going back to a mile.
"It was an absolutely wonderful performance and I've never had him in better form coming into a race," he said. "The most important thing with him is the ground as he needs it rattling quick and he's not the same unless he can feel it under his toes.
"If he hadn't won here we would have gone to the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood, but he would now have a penalty in that so we might have a look at the Sussex as there aren't many sprint races around just now. He would travel well around there and could be an interesting runner."
Limato: now a best-priced 8-1 third favourite for the Sussex StakesPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
For Jacobs the future was for another day.
"It is incredibly special," he enthused. "Neil Graham is here with me, he was my first trainer - he bought Gay Glint for me 26 years ago and he won nine times - and it is wonderful that he is here as it's been a long journey.
'You just pay the fees and I'll look after the horse'
"This is what every owner dreams of, winning these sort of races. We turned down silly money for this horse because it took me 26 years to find one this good and I don't know if I'll be here in another 26 when the next one comes along. It's more important to have these moments. He's really put us through the wringer, so it's incredibly rewarding it's paid off."
He added: "James Doyle also deserves credit as he made the horse really, but he has his retainer with Godolphin and I wanted a good, up-and-coming young British jockey who could commit to the horse, and I'm delighted for Harry.
"I can say only thank you to Henry, especially as he was also in the Summer Mile and I began to lose my bottle and thought we should go for that. He said, 'You just pay the fees and I'll look after the horse'."
Look after the horse he certainly did, and Limato looked after the result.