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Living life on the edge with Harry

J A McGrath

Kevin Harris knows a good horse when he rides one, so his assessment of Godolphin’s Champion sprinter Harry Angel in Saturday’s G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot is well worth a listen.

Harris, 48, has been in racing all his life, working for some of the game’s most successful trainers, men of the calibre of Sir Henry Cecil, Saeed bin Suroor and, more recently, Clive Cox, who has skillfully guided Harry Angel to the top.

During his time with Saeed’s Godolphin yard in the mid-1990s, Harris was given the responsibility of riding an energetic chestnut son of Nijinsky, who had joined the stable from that of the late Alex Scott.

Named Lammtarra, the colt went on win all four races of his short career, which included G1s triumphs in the Derby, King George and Arc.

“He was an amazing horse,” Harris recalled.

“He should never have been in the Derby. He was still in a Dubai veterinary hospital in March of his three-year-old career. He was at death’s door.

“How Saeed and his assistant at the time, Jeremy Noseda, got him back, fit for the Derby in June, I just don’t know. It was remarkable,” he said.

Turn the clock forward two decades and Harris is working for Cox and helping nurture the sprinting talent of the bold grey Lethal Force, who he described as straightforward but capable of being intimidating at times.

So, the burning question to the vastly experienced Kevin Harris: was it immediately obvious just how good Harry Angel was going to be?

“You can never be 100% sure, but we were hoping he was a very good horse,” the work rider pointed out.

“He was definitely one of the nicest I have ridden as a baby. I’ve been riding Harry going on three years now. I know him and he knows me.

“He’s never going to be relaxed and docile...there’s always an edge to him. He’s going into the Diamond Jubilee in great form and, touch wood, we’ll come out with a result this time,” he said.

A versatile horseman, Harris also spends a major part of his working life with the team of stalls’ handlers, who travel around racecourses in the south of England providing their invaluable expertise at the start of every race.

“Some days, I can be riding three lots for Clive and then dashing off to go racing to work on the stalls. Basically, I am juggling two jobs but Clive is very understanding and will let me go off if I’m a bit behind time,” he explained.

Harry Angel could not have been in better hands during his early years of development, and come Saturday, all that ground work should pay off.