Ballydoyle sprinter claims July Cup and fine double
Fri 9th July
Starspangledbanner produced a battling performance to follow up his Royal Ascot victory by taking the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.
Johnny Murtagh's mount had to fight hard to complete the rare double of the top-class sprint races but fully deserved another Group One success at Headquarters.
Aidan O'Brien's speedball slightly missed the kick and was soon chased along behind fellow Ascot hero Equiano.
Perhaps crucially, Murtagh steered the 2-1 favourite over to the far rail while Michael Hills raced up the middle of the track on Equiano.
But Starspangledbanner found plenty for pressure to foil the gallant Equiano by a neck with Alverta back in third.
"He's very tough, he's a serious horse," said O'Brien. "Johnny made the decision to go over to the far rail and it paid off.
"He's got some courage and great pace. Very few horses have that much courage when they are so fast. It was great that the two Ascot winners were first and second, it's great when they come together like that."
Murtagh added: "Not many horses win this after winning at Ascot, but he's not just got class, he's got plenty of guts and he's hardy. I thought the rail would help my horse, I had to make my own mind up and it helped win the race.
"Stamina helped us win it, some Australian horses don't go up the hill but this lad does."
However, there was bad news to emanate from the stewards' room for Murtagh, who was handed a six-day ban for careless riding related to his manoeuvre towards the rail on leaving the stalls.
The dates of suspension are July 23 to 28 inclusive, which would mean the rider misses the King George meeting at Ascot as well as the first two days of Glorious Goodwood.
Murtagh's possible King George rides include Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco, who could clash with Epsom hero Workforce in the midsummer showpiece.