Lethal Force gave a masterful performance on closing day at Royal Ascot, making nearly all the pace for a convincing two-length win in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I), the marquee event June 22.
The 4-year-old Dark Angel colt knuckled down in the final quarter to put daylight between himself and 17 opponents, including 4-1 choice Society Rock. The favorite rallied from the rear of the field and desperately pursued in the closing stages but was denied a second win in the race after scoring in 2011.
Ridden by Adam Kirby, Lethal Force covered six furlongs in 1:13.36 at 11-1 odds on turf rated as good to firm. He scored for the first time at the group I level.
"It wasn't the plan to be in front like that and I was more than a bit worried that the field would swamp him at some point," said trainer Clive Cox, who enjoyed his fourth Royal Ascot winner. "He sometimes struggles with his concentration and we've had the blinkers on him in the past but left them off today. He hits the gates so well that sometimes it's difficult to hold him back.
"Lethal Force was having a blow in front, and when Adam sent him on he was explosive—it was a very authoritative victory."
Lethal Force turned the tables on Society Rock after that opponent denied him by a head in his 2013 debut in the Duke of York Stakes (Eng-II) May 15 at York.
A consistent performer last season for owner Alan Craddock, Lethal Force scored two wins, including the Hungerford Stakes (Eng-II), two seconds, and two thirds from eight starts. With his Diamond Jubilee win, his record improves to three wins, four seconds, and three thirds from 14 career starts.
Lethal Force is out of the Desert Style mare Land Army, a half sister to English stakes winner Flanders, who finished second in the 1999 King's Stand Stakes (Eng-II). He is from the family of recent French classic winner Flotilla, winner of the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (gr. IT).
Lethal Force is from the first crop of Dark Angel, a group I-winning sprinter who stands in Ireland at Morristown Lattin Stud in County Kildare. The 8-year-old son of Acclamation was Ireland's leading first season sire of 2011.
Closing day was marred by the death of Thomas Chippendale, who in the previous race collapsed soon after winning the 1 1/2-mile Hardwicke Stakes (Eng-II) and died of a suspected heart attack.
Lady Cecil, who lost her husband, Sir Henry, to cancer on June 11 at the age of 70, was shaken and emotional.
"Leading up to the race he was in such good form and really enjoying himself," she said tearfully about Thomas Chippendale.
"We didn't realize the horse had collapsed, so we came from the grandstand into the winner's enclosure feeling so happy and couldn't understand why it was rather quiet. We didn't know what had happened, but they say it was very quick and the horse did not suffer."
Asked about her decision to bring runners to the Royal Ascot meet following her husband's recent death, Lady Cecil said: "I've had to keep going for Team Cecil and for Henry."