Harry ‘in a good place’ to return to top of the Sprint Division.
Godolphin’s star sprinter Harry Angel needs to overcome two factors in order to regain the winning thread in Saturday’s G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot — and trainer Clive Cox is confident the hugely-talented colt can conquer both.
The son of Dark Angel requires the ground on the straight course to be as close to ‘Good to Soft’ as possible, and he needs to overcome what appears to be a jinx on his visits to the Berkshire course.
On the first point, Cox is relying on guidance he has received from Chris Stickels, Ascot’s Clerk of the Course, who remains optimistic the going will not deteriorate to a bottomless heavy.
“He is hopeful that we will have a surface on the better side of Soft, if the forecast is correct,” Cox said.
“I hope that’s the case because Harry Angel is currently in as good a place as I’ve had him. He has trained better at home all year. He has been very consistent.
“He was beaten in the G1 Haydock Sprint last time because he was a bit fresh and went too hard in front on Heavy ground. I know he won the same race on Heavy the previous year, but this time around it became more of a test because of his freshness. He had been off (three months) since his bad experience in the stalls at Royal Ascot in June,” he pointed out.
Which raises the point about Ascot being Harry Angel’s jinx course. He has failed to win in five outings at the track, the most recent being when his leg became trapped on a ledge in the starting gate in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
But Cox believes there is nothing to the jinx theory.
“It could have been different,” he explained.
“He had a very kind introduction on his first start, and then he later ran into Caravaggio (in the G1 Commonwealth Cup), who was no back number.
“I hope we get ground that is better than last year at this meeting because I’m very pleased with him. I think he can produce his best run and win,” the trainer said.
Godolphin hopes rest not only on Harry Angel but also with the Andre Fabre-trained Kitesurf, who faces 10 rivals in the G1 British Champions Filly & Mare Stakes.
Kitesurf produced an exceptional finish to land the G1 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp last month but bypassed the G1 Arc to be kept for another valuable females only prize.
Fabre said: “She has been in great form since her win in the Vermeille. For a brief moment we were tempted to go the Arc route but the interval between the Vermeille and Ascot works well.
“I think she’ll handle the conditions but this will probably be heavier (on the Round course) than she has previously encountered, so it’s not a certainty either,” he added.
The G1 Champion Stakes features Cracksman in probably his final race, and connections will be delighted that his favoured Soft/Heavy ground will prevail. His stablemate Roaring Lion has been switched to the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.