Ten Sovereigns is too rich for July Cup rivals with stunning show of speed
Twenty years ago Stravinsky annihilated the field to give Aidan O'Brien a first July Cup, and there was more than a passing resemblance to the great sprinter as Ten Sovereigns gave his trainer a record-equalling fifth success in the race.
Given a betting backdrop dominated by Frankie Dettori and potentially crippling multiples, bookmakers might have thought they wriggled off the hook with favourite Advertise beaten into second.
But instead they were walloped by a gamble on fellow three-year-old Ten Sovereigns who returned the 9-2 winner having been as big as 10-1 on Friday and also assumed favouritism for a time on the morning of the race.
History is so often instructive, and those who dusted off previous racing annals might well have joined the slew of punters getting stuck into Ten Sovereigns.
Stravinsky, Mozart and US Navy Flag, the last-named victorious in the race for O'Brien last year, all had their stamina stretched beyond sprint trips early in their Classic campaigns. When those efforts did not bear fruit, they were dropped back in trip with devastating effect.
Ten Sovereigns completed an unbeaten juvenile term at six furlongs, then finished a beaten favourite in fifth for the 2,000 Guineas. He reverted to six furlongs at Royal Ascot, finishing fourth in the Commonwealth Cup behind Advertise.
But, with his mind now attuned to sprinting again, the son of No Nay Never was ready to return to his scintillating best, as O'Brien explained.
"We slowed him down all winter to try and get him to get a mile and he nearly got a mile in the Guineas," the trainer said. "It just took him a little bit of time to come out of Newmarket and then he was just ready to go at Ascot.
"He ran a very good race at Ascot but mentally looked like a horse who hadn't clicked into sprinting mood yet."
Arguably no trainer is more in-sync with the mentality of their team than O'Brien, and the horse's subsequent work after Ascot demonstrated he had embraced the sprinter's demeanour again.
"He really came alive. In his last piece of work he broke 11 seconds every furlong for four furlongs," O'Brien said. "He's relaxed and like all those good athletes he goes a very high pace very easily."
When you consider how many stars have graced the gallops at Ballydoyle during O'Brien's storied tenure, for the trainer to enthuse over a specific piece of work highlights just how good Ten Sovereigns could be.
Ryan Moore was also impressed, and added: "He quickened very well and there was no doubt about how superior he was. He looked like a top-class sprinter and hopefully he can continue that for the rest of the season.
"He gets the trip very well and I thought the turn of foot he showed today was the most impressive thing."
Bookmakers cut Ten Sovereigns to 2-1 for the 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock, while he is a general 5-1 shot for the Coolmore Nunthorpe.
Stravinsky and Mozart successfully tackled five furlongs on the Knavesmire, and when asked whether the minimum trip could come into play for Ten Sovereigns, O'Brien added: "I don't think it will be any problem. When he can do those times at home, five should be no problem."
O'Brien also had the third, Fairyland, for good measure, and added: "We always felt she was a six-furlong filly. She ran a super race and Seamie [Heffernan] was over the moon with her."
Although unable to live with the new, improved version of the winner, Advertise backed up his Commonwealth Cup victory with a solid second, finishing two and three quarter-lengths adrift.
Trainer Martyn Meade said: "It was different ground to Ascot and it was a muddling race but fair play to the winner who has won well. We were a bit disappointed as we came here to win and we may have a look at the Prix Maurice de Gheest next. Hopefully after that we'll be back to Ascot later on but he'll be a lovely four-year-old."
Blue Point may have vacated the sprinting crown after his Royal Ascot double, but it looks like there could be a new king ready to rule.
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