Dubai: Jockey Adam Kirby called Harry Angel a ‘machine’ after the Godolphin colt cantered to victory in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock’s showpiece meeting of the season on Saturday.
Trained by Clive Cox, best remembered for his exploits with another extraordinary sprinter, Lethal Force, the three-year-old son of Dark Angel scoffed at his rivals to be eased home a decisive four-length winner.
Despite concerns around heavy ground Harry Angel was always cruising in the six-furlong contest even allowing a confident Adam Kirby to glance over his shoulder to see if there was a challenge coming, but it never materialised.
Tasleet, racing in the colours of two-time July Cup winning owner Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, finished a distant second, with Royal Ascot scorer, The Tin Man, staying on for third.
Kirby, who has been aboard Harry Angel in all seven of his career starts since last May, said: “I’m a believer in a proper champion can win on any ground, but he’s so fast I was a little bit concerned. It’s a great team effort and all credit to Clive. I knew he’d won as soon as he picked up.
“He’s a machine. He’s got speed to burn and that’s not how good he is, he’s there now mentally and he’ll keep on getting better.”
Cox added: “He’s so good on fast ground there had to be a chance he wouldn’t go on it (heavy ground). But he’s proved he goes on any ground now.
“It’s difficult to change gear on ground like that and to win by four lengths against soft-ground horses was super.
“He’s a champion on fast ground and he’s proved a champion on easier ground now, I’m so pleased.”
Cox revealed that the British Champions Sprint at Ascot on October 21 will be the next target for Harry Angel.
“I hope he stays in training next year. It’s a huge relief after walking the course, as that ground is as bad as it gets,” he said.
“Thank goodness we made the right decision, he’s maturing all the time and now we know we can head to Ascot without worrying what the ground does.”
Commenting on Tasleet’s performance William Haggas said he was looking forward to taking on the winner again, with a better race strategy.
“He (Tasleet) ran a very good race, but we’re going to have to come up with a way of beating Clive’s horse,” he said.
“We can’t just let him have an easy lead and put the race to bed.
“I think it’s clear we’re better on soft ground now so we’ll head to Ascot next I think.”
Meanwhile, trainer James Fanshawe blamed the ground for The Tin Man’s performance and indicated that the British Champions Sprint at Ascot would also be his horse’s end-of-season target.
“He ran very well again, but the ground has blunted his speed.
“Ever since Royal Ascot the main aim has been to head back to Ascot on Champions Day, as he runs so well there.”
British bookmakers Sky Bet made Harry Angel the even-money favourite for the Champions Sprint and 2/1 from 4/1 for next year’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2018.
Spokesman Michael Shinners said: “What a sensational performance that was, and you have to take your hat off to all involved for allowing him to run.
“We’ve cut Harry Angel to evens for the Champion Sprint. Tasleet is second-favourite and, on Saturday’s evidence, you’d be hard pressed to predict a reversal.
“Caravaggio is the potential fly in the ointment — he could shake-up the market if winning on Sunday — but it’s all about the Angel, who was as impressive a winner as you’ll see.”