Dubai: The same broken record has been playing for five previous appearances at Ascot Racecourse, but trainer Clive Cox’s relentless quest for Harry Angel’s first career win at the historic track remains as fierce as it ever was.
Cox, who is based at Lambourn, England’s second-largest racehorse training entre after Newmarket, is confident that if the real Harry Angel turns up at the season-ending Champions Days meeting on Saturday, he can finally break the ice at the centuries-old venue.
Voted the world’s top-rated sprinter in 2017 following exciting victories in the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket and Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock, the Godolphin-owned sprinter has, bizarre as it may seem, underperformed at Ascot.
The most recent being in June this year in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot when he hurt his leg after it got caught in the stalls. The result was that Harry Angel never really took an active part in the race, instead trailing in 11th place behind Merchant Navy in the Group 1.
However, Cox, a former National Hunt jockey, is hoping that Harry Angel can recue his reputation and deliver a winning performance in the year end bonanza.
“At the moment we are all systems go,” Cox told the British Champion Series website. “He’s a horse I’m absolutely confident is as good, if not better, than last year. I hope the weather stays dry — the forecast is encouraging — and if that’s the case we will be very much looking forward to it.
“He’s in good form and the drier autumn than we have had compared to last year will give us a chance to lay the ghost of Ascot to rest.”
Commenting on his stable star’s disappointing performance in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on his most recent start, he said: “On more heavy ground than last year, he quite visibly went a bit too quick. It was plain for all to see that he was just a bit too exuberant on the day. I’m very happy with him and he’s giving me all the right signals, as he has done all year.”
Other possible contenders among the 17 entries left in the field include another Dubai-owned horse. Tasleet, who was runner-up in last year’s renewal, is raced by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, who is looking for a fifth Champions Sprint trophy following wins by Muhaarar (2015), Sayif (2009), Haatef (2007) and Elnadim (1997)
Dubai are also represented by the Shaikh Mohammad Obaid Al Maktoum-owned Laugh A Minute, as well as Dream of Dreams who races in the colours of Emirati businessman Saeed Suhail.
Notable absentees include Shaikh Hamdan’s Battaash and Godolphin’s Blue Point.
The race is the sprint-category final of the British Champions Series.