Rob Hornby drinks in a brace after guiding 14-1 alcohol-free to victory in the Darley July Cup

Rob Hornby drinks in a brace after guiding 14-1 without booze to a one-and-a-half length victory in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket

  • Jockey Rob Hornby won his second Group 1 race in two days
  • He powered Alcohol Free to victory in the Darley July Cup on Saturday
  • It came 24 hours after winning the Falmouth Stakes on Prosperous Voyage

Rob Hornby seized his opportunities with both hands and hit the Group One bullseye for the second time in two days as he secured a one-and-a-half-length win in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket over alcohol-trained Andrew Balding.

The 27-year-old’s success on the 14-1 shot came 24 hours after his Falmouth Stakes victory over Prosperous Voyage, a 16-1 shot coached by Ralph Beckett.

The two rides only reached him by circumstance. If Frankie Dettori hadn’t found John and Thady Gosden unexpectedly, the Italian would have put together Prosperous Voyage. And Hornby clinched the mount on Alcohol Free when his regular rider, champion jockey Oisin Murphy, was suspended.

Rob Hornby powered Alcohol Free to victory in the Darley July Cup on Saturday

Hornby, who grew up in Shropshire, claimed his first Group 1 win last season. His career has been slow since joining the Balding stable in Hampshire aged 16 straight out of school almost 11 years ago.

But his hard work and his patience are rewarded.

The jockey said: “I’m really speechless, just having two group one races in two days is fantastic.” When I joined Mr. Balding, I was living the dream and getting paid for it. He gave me so many opportunities and that’s where all jockeys want to compete. It will not be a period without alcohol this weekend!

“She got a little disorganized mid-race, but when she kicked into high gear she won convincingly.”

Alcohol Free has now won four times at Group One level, starting with the two-year-old Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs like Saturday’s race. At the age of three, she won the Sussex Stakes and the Coronation Stakes by one mile.

The 27-year-old won his second Group 1 race in two days at Newmarket

The 27-year-old won his second Group 1 race in two days at Newmarket

Balding and her owner Jeff Smith, whose top horse Lochsong was a beaten favorite in the July 1994 Cup, will now send her back for the longer trip.

She will defend her Sussex Stakes crown at Glorious Goodwood on July 27 in what is expected to be a searing race, with unbeaten Baaeed and 2,000 Guineas winner Coroebus up against.

Balding said: “It’s a speed mile rather than an attritional mile so Goodwood should suit him and we look forward to it.”

Ahead of Saturday’s race, Alcohol Free had been beaten three times this season, raising public concern that she was not on the same level, but Hornby said the Balding stable still had confidence in her and her speed.

She finished ninth in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, nearly three lengths behind Naval Crown who were runners-up.

Disappointing 9-4 favorite Perfect Power finished seventh.

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