Harry Angel could face three international raiders when he seeks to gain back-to-back wins in the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket on July 14.
Beckford and Stormy Liberal, trained in America, feature among 50 entries for the QIPCO British Champions Series contest along with Redkirk Warrior, winner of two races at the highest level in Australia this year.
Trained last year in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, Beckford landed the Group 2 Railway Stakes and was then twice runner-up in Group 1 company.
The son of Bated Breath is now trained in America by 44-year-old Brendan Walsh and won on his debut for him at Churchill Downs in Kentucky last month in the $100,000 William Walker Stakes over five furlongs.
“Beckford showed a great turn of foot and did everything right,” Walsh said. “It was a bit of an adjustment for him, dropping back to five furlongs, and I think that he will improve a lot for the run.
“He has taken to the American way of training like a duck to water and now we are going to take him back to Europe.
“The intention is to run him in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and we will see what happens there before making any more plans. He’s a really athletic colt with a lovely mind, so I can’t see the undulations at Newmarket bothering him.
“He’s got a lot of natural speed and, from what he’s showed me so far, I can’t see any reason why he can’t be competitive against the best sprinters Europe has to offer, though I certainly don’t underestimate them.”
Stormy Liberal won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar last November and chased home Jungle Cat in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in March on his latest start.
Redkirk Warrior has this year already won two of Australia’s top sprints, the Group 1 Lightning Stakes and the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap.
The home defence is led by Harry Angel, the brilliant winner 12 months ago. He is set to make his return in the Duke Of York Stakes next week.
Prix de l’Abbaye hero, Battaash, and Limato, successful in the July Cup in 2016 and runner-up last term, are among others engaged.
Last year, the July Cup was rated as the world’s top sprint by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, achieving that accolade jointly with two other Champions Series races – the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and the QIPCO British Champions Sprint.
Each of its past five winners have gone on to be crowned as the top European-trained sprinter in the World Thoroughbred Rankings.
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