Top commentator Simon Holt previews Saturday's action from Ascot and Haydock and he's backing a Roger Varian-trained horse to prevail in Berkshire.
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The start of any horse race is important but, in sprint races, it can be crucial and this is the one big dilemma surrounding Harry Angel’s chances of winning a second 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.
A superb four length winner 12 months ago from the re-opposing Tasleet and The Tin Man, and also quite brilliant on one previous visit to the course, Adam Kirby’s mount has missed the break in two of his last three starts, rearing up in the stalls at Ascot last October and then injuring himself before the Diamond Jubilee in June after getting his left hind leg trapped when the gates opened.
Reported in fine fettle again now by trainer Clive Cox, Harry Angel’s worst enemy, and biggest danger here, is clearly himself but, with a clean break, it is difficult to see any of his rivals being good enough to catch him albeit at likely cramped odds.
Perhaps his two most progressive rivals are the three-year-old James Garfield, who ran a career best (possibly on the best of the ground) when second to Polydream in the Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville early last month, and Sir Dancealot, successful in the Lennox and Hungerford Stakes on his last two starts.
However, there is a small ground concern for James Garfield, and Sir Dancealot, while effective at six furlongs, is probably best over seven.
Earlier, DRAMATIC QUEEN could be handily treated at the weights in the Read Luke Morris Blog At Unitbet Handicap.
William Haggas’s filly, a winner on softish ground at Yarmouth last season, was thought sure to need the run when only fourth to her top class stable-companion Sea Of Class at Newbury in June and then tried to make all in a listed race at Newmarket (12f) before finishing third behind the subsequent French Group Three winner Worth Waiting.
Up in trip again (her dam won over two miles), Dramatic Queen’s mark of 96 looks reasonable considering the current ratings of Mrs Sippy (100) and Princess Yaiza (103), second and third at Newbury, and Worth Waiting (105) and Newmarket fourth Alwaysandforever (100).
The danger could be Goodwood (12f) winner Soto Sizzler who finished strongly to win early last month on just his fifth career start and should be suited by this extra test. Trainer William Knight enjoyed a double at Kempton earlier in the week.
At Ascot, CAPE BYRON can gain a deserved first victory of the season in the Cunard Handicap.
Roger Varian’s gelding has run well on his last two starts at Goodwood, going under by narrow margins when fourth to Seniority in the Golden Mile early last month and then second to Flaming Spear over seven furlongs more recently when running on well in the closing stages.
In both those races, Cape Byron was forced to come down the outside and there should be no excuses this time on Ascot’s straight course where he led the field two furlongs out in the Royal Hunt Cup in June only to fade inside the final furlong.
While successful here over a mile on soft ground at this meeting last year, Cape Byron could find the stiff seven this time ideal and, in a race full of exposed horses, should take some beating given that, with a better draw in those two races at Goodwood, he would probably be rated a bit higher.