Champion sprinter Harry Angel made a perfect start to his four-year-old campaign with a decisive victory in the five-runner G2 Duke of York Stakes over six furlongs at York, UK, on Wednesday, 16 May.
The Clive Cox-trained Dark Angel colt, successful at G1 level in the Darley July Cup and the Haydock Sprint Cup last year, was quickly into his stride and disputed the early running before being held in second, racing a bit keenly, behind the leader Ornate.
Sir Dancealot made his move approaching the final quarter-mile and took the lead, but Adam Kirby on Harry Angel in third was aware of what was happening and asked his mount to quicken.
Harry Angel showed an instant turn of foot and soon went to front, readily opening up a clear advantage. He galloped out strongly to score by two lengths over last season’s G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest victor Brando, who was receiving 5lb, in 1m 10.87s on good to firm turf.
Clive Cox commented: “Harry Angel seems more grown up and more mature this year. We have not squeezed him off the bridle at home.
“I am thrilled he has taken this first step well. I think all these sprinters need a run to get them back into gear. He had a penalty today and, even though it was a smaller field than usual, I know he will come forward from today.
“It’s always a worry when you come here with a penalty and I couldn’t be more pleased with him.
“Mentally, I am so pleased with the way he has conducted himself. Walking across [the course] here is a bigger test than anything he has done before. He has really grown up mentally.
“In the early days, it was quite tough to harness his mind. We are reaping the rewards of that patience and I am really delighted for Sheikh Mohammed keeping him in training.
“Adam is an amazing jockey and I am really proud of him. We have a big line of success stories with good horses he has ridden for us over the years.
“Kevin Harris is another key player – he loaded Harry Angel into the stalls again today as usual – and I have a great team back at home.
“Harry Angel will go straight to Royal Ascot for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (G1, six furlongs, Saturday, 23 June). We know he is good and we just have to get him there in one piece.”
Adam Kirby added: “I was really pleased with Harry Angel.
“We knew that he would be a little bit fresh and he showed his well-being for the first quarter-mile. When I pulled him and sank into him a bit, he found top gear and finished off strongly.
“I think he is definitely improving and his mind has definitely improved – he is relaxing and doing everything a lot better now.
“Fair play to Clive Cox, who has done a fantastic job. Not only has he trained the horse, he has trained his mind.”