Harry Angel “in a good place” as he bids to become second dual winner of 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday

Trainer Clive Cox opened the doors to his Beechdown Farm stables in Lambourn today as his stable star Harry Angel aims to land the G1 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock Park this Saturday, September 8, for the second year in succession. The total prize money for the 2018 32Red Sprint Cup stands at a record £325,200.
Owned by Godolphin, Harry Angel was the impressive four-length winner under his regular partner Adam Kirby of the six-furlong contest in 2017 from Tasleet (William Haggas) and The Tin Man (James Fanshawe), who are both set to re-oppose this year.
A total of 17 horses remain engaged in the 32Red Sprint Cup. Two supplementary entries were made yesterday - James Garfield (George Scott) and Sir Dancealot(David Elsworth).
Harry Angel ended 2017 as officially the best sprinter in the world, with a rating of 125 in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. He made a winning seasonal reappearance in the G2 Duke Of York Stakes at York on May 16 before injuring himself in the stalls on his latest appearance in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 23.
The four-year-old son of Dark Angel is the warm 5/4 favourite with sponsor 32Red as he bids to become only the second dual winner of the 32Red Sprint Cup, following on from Be Friendly, who was owned by legendary BBC commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan and landed the first two renewals of in 1966 and 1967.
Harry Angel and Clive Cox today
Clive Cox said today: “I think relief was the initial emotion after Ascot because it could have been a lot worse. Initially, we saw there was a small wound and then there was a bit of soreness muscularly and it took a bit longer.
“We missed the July Cup, which was a huge disappointment, and the 32Red Sprint Cup was the next logical six-furlong target. I am just delighted he is back in good form and he has given me a really positive feel.
“Things have improved markedly since a couple of weeks after the July Cup and continued in a very positive direction. His work has been impeccable.
“From his point of view, he is in a good place. Obviously, we have done a lot of confidence-building work to be sure with the stalls and I am as happy as I possibly can be. Any sprinter is basically a coiled spring but we are very happy with the progress he has made.
“I would have preferred to have run in the July Cup but the upside is that he is going into Saturday as a fresh horse. I guess every cloud has a silver lining.
“He holds the course record at Haydock on very fast ground (achieved in the 2017 G2 Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes). It was concerning when the ground got very soft last year and whether he would even took part. Although there is rain forecast, I don’t think we have quite the amounts that we saw prior to last year. I am hoping that Mr Tellwright (Kirkland Tellwright, Clerk of the Course at Haydock Park) has got the ground in good nick and we are looking forward to it.
“We have done our bit at home and are very happy that everything is in good order. We will dot the i’s and cross the t’s in every which way – hopefully, we have left no stone unturned.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that he is a top-class horse. We all know that and we want to see top-class horses doing the job. Any success with Harry Angel means a huge amount and it has been a big team effort. Hopefully, we can show everybody what we have been doing with the horse and are looking forward to competing on Saturday.”
Harry Angel today
Talking about Harry Angel’s recovery after Royal Ascot, Cox continued: ”Harry Angel was on the go all the time. We have a really good physio team and all those sort of things, as you would expect with any athlete or muscle situation.
“We dealt with it as well as possible, and I am delighted we were able to help, but not quite enough to get to the July Cup in a confident state.
“He has given me all the right signals. Kevin (Harris) rides him at home most of the time and we are all very much of the opinion that he feels as well as he ever did. At the beginning of the year, I said I felt he is that bit stronger this year. I am very pleased with him.
“We have had an unhindered build up to the 32Red Sprint Cup after realising this is the target and having taken an enforced sideways step. We have a good timescale and from our point of view we are very happy.
“I think his brilliance was very apparent last year, and I was delighted with his first run this season at York. He won with a 5lb penalty that day, which showed and confirmed to us that he had come forward.
“We took him to Kempton 10 days ago. He had a nice airing there and that went really well, so he has had an away day.
“I think when you have had a winter break and are let down properly coming into the spring, plus bearing in mind the spring we had, it is a different story. Any horse needs to be fit to go to war but hopefully you are building to peak around the middle of the summer. The beginning of the year is slightly different to where we are now as he was never let down like he would have been during a winter break. Although we had to be quiet with him, he was on the move and I would be hopeful that all is well.
“The horse has to do the talking now. We have done everything we wanted and needed to do. Hopefully, it all goes according to plan.”
Clive Cox and Harry Angel
All five of Harry Angel’s career defeats have come at Ascot, while his record away from the Berkshire track currently stands at five wins from five starts, including two sensational performances at Haydock Park.
Cox concluded: “You are quite right about the Ascot thing and, although I have defended it all the way, the facts are there for everyone to see.
“You can draw conclusions; the second to Caravaggio was pretty special; we had a penalty when Blue Point beat us; he was beaten a nose there on his first racecourse appearance. He has not run badly at Ascot and that is why I have defended it, but he has clearly shown a top level of form at Haydock and I am pleased we are going back there on Saturday.
“He is the best horse I have had anything to do with. We have had some really nice ones in Lethal Force and Profitable. Lethal Force still holds the course record in the July Cup, so that was pretty special, but the performance Harry Angel put up in this race last year was scintillating.
“It is joy to have a horse like this on our hands and I hope from Sheikh Mohammed’s point of view of keeping him in training that we can justify that decision because I think he is as good as ever.”
The 32Red Sprint Cup forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
32Red Sprint Cup - 32Red odds: 5/4 Harry Angel; 7/1 James Garfield, The Tin Man; 8/1 Tasleet; 9/1 Brando, Limato, Sir Dancealot; 16/1 Eqtidaar, Sands Of Mali, Speak In Colours; 20/1 Sioux Nation; 25/1 Fleet Review, Gustav Klimt; 33/1 Donjuan Triumphant; 50/1 Hey Jonesy, Spirit Of Valor; 100/1 Intelligence Cross
Each-way 1/5 1,2,3
The going at Haydock Park has changed to Good, Good to Soft in places today (from Good yesterday).
It was dry over the weekend. There was seven millimetres of rain yesterday, Monday, September 3.
After a damp start, the forecast is for dry conditions today and tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday 5. Light showers are forecast for Thursday followed by around six millmetres of rain on Friday and four millimetres on Saturday.
32Red Sprint Cup offers a seven-race card running from 1.50pm through to 5.25pm.The 32Red Sprint Cup Festival gets underway on Thursday, September 6 and continues on Friday, September 7.
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