Dubai: Harry Angel, Godolphin’s sprinting superstar, must overcome his Ascot racecourse jinx if he were to win the £600,000 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1), the showpiece race on the final day of this year’s Royal meeting on Saturday.
The son of Dark Angel has won five of his nine career starts, but all four of his defeats have come at the historic Berkshire venue including the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at last year’s meeting.
And so, it would not be out of place to say that last year’s Cartier Sprinter Award Champion, will have his work cut out for him when he faces 11 rivals as he bids to break the Ascot curse at the fifth time of asking in Britain’s most prestigious sprint.
An exciting winner of Newmarket’s Darley July Cup (G1) and the Sprint Cup (G1) at Haydock last season, Harry Angel recorded a decisive victory on his four-year-old bow when winning the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes at York, UK last month.
“I don’t particularly lose any sleep that he has not got his head in front there. I think it’s more coincidence rather than a serious problem,” trainer Clive Cox said in Racing UK.
“Although there wasn’t a huge field, it was really pleasing at York and he came out of it well.
“I think, mentally, it’s always nice for most horses, especially sprinters, to get back in the groove. We were pleased he took that first test well and we’re very happy with him.”
Among his sprint rivals are two speedballs who have made a name for themselves in Australia, who six years ago sent out Black Caviar to win the Diamond Jubilee and put the country on the map for their strong sprint lines.
The first of these is Merchant Navy, who has travelled to the UK with the sole aim of winning the six-furlong contest.
He races out of Aidan O’Brien’s stables and the trainer who also saddles Intelligence Cross and Spirit Of Valor, said: “It is a very competitive race. We are just delighted to have him here, really.”
Redkirk Warrior brings Grade One winning form from Flemington to Ascot and his trainer Ben Hayes said: “He’s a lovely, relaxed horse and he’s very easy to deal with. I’ve been training just over two years, and he’s by far the best horse I’ve ever trained.
“He comes here a lovely, fresh horse. When he’s had 100 days-plus off, he’s got a great record, so we’re not bothered about him being fresh.
“It just depends how he handles the day, but he’s definitely got the ability to win.”
The final day’s card at the royal meeting also features a pair of traditionally strong seven-furlong races, the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes and the Listed Chesham Stakes.