A glance at the form book shows Godolphin sprinting star Harry Angel has yet to break his Ascot ‘duck’ after four outings at the Berkshire course.
But it may be unwise to interpret that as a negative factor going into Saturday’s feature, the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, run over the straight six furlongs.
Trainer Clive Cox, who has trained the son of Dark Angel with this one target in mind, is not concerned and believes the race will enable ‘Harry’ to lay his Ascot ghosts to rest.
“I am very pleased where we have him at present,” Cox said.
“He ran very well to win under a penalty at York and he has done well since,” the trainer added.
Harry Angel established himself as Europe’s champion sprinter with wins in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket and G1 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock Park last year.
He also played a leading role in Royal Ascot’s G1 Commonwealth Cup, in which he finished a close second to Caravaggio, with Godolphin’s other crack sprinter Blue Point back in third.
There is plenty of depth to this year’s Diamond Jubilee, with the Australian raider Redkirk Warrior carrying the confidence of his connections.
Redkirk Warrior, trained by David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, has won the last two runnings of Australia’s top sprint, the G1 Newmarket Handicap.
He is top class. One of those he defeated in the latest running of the Newmarket, Merchant Navy (third), has transferred to Aidan O’Brien in Ireland.
The pair were on opposite sides of the track at Flemington, which they may well be again in the Diamond Jubilee.
Trainer Charlie Appleby saddles D’Bai as a second string for Godolphin, and he clearly believes this talented type can be placed.
Appleby said of D’Bai : “I’m delighted with him. He’s a horse I’ve always wanted to take down the sprinting route.
“He put up a good performance in Dubai when he finished fifth to Jungle Cat, and then back in the UK, he was second to The Tin Man at Windsor.
“We stepped him up in trip to seven furlongs and he won the G3 John O’Gaunt at Haydock…that was just to get a run into him before Royal Ascot. He will love the stiff ‘six’ at Ascot, and hopefully he can travel well throughout and then pick up the pieces late,” the trainer said.
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.