TOMORROW’S British Champions Day at Ascot looks like being a top quality renewal and Harry Angel (pictured) looks bombproof in the Champion Sprint Stakes (2.00), writes CHARLIE CROASDALE.
Clive Cox’s brilliant three-year-old has yet to win three attempts at Ascot but has won his four other career starts and is well clear of most of today’s rivals on recent form, including market rival Caravaggio who he beat in the July Cup at Newmarket before following up in devastating fashion at Haydock last month, putting top-class sprinters Tasleet, The Tin Man and Blue Point firmly in their place.
I’m not normally one for putting up short-priced favourites but any odds-against looks well worth taking on Harry Angel to confirm him status as the champion sprinter.
Hydrangea is taken to land the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes (2.40) with master trainer Aidan O’Brien odds-on to break Bobby Frankel’s world record for Group Ones in a season this weekend, with Ryan Moore set for the ride she’ll prove tough to beat.
Hydrangea has played second-fiddle to stablemate Winter for most of the season, but finally got her revenge in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown and that performance marked this daughter of Galileo down as a serious performer at a mile. O’Brien’s filly followed that up with an excellent second to Rhodedendrum at Chantilly over an extra two furlongs and she appeared to relish the step up in trip, suggesting tomorrow’s mile and four furlongs will suit. As O’Brien’s only realistic contender here, I’d suggest she’ll be fully wound up for another Group One success.
Switching attention to the Balmoral Handicap (4.30) and GM Hopkins can cause an upset here at the course and distance John Gosden’s charge simply loves. Now a six-year-old, GM Hopkins has an excellent record in these big-field mile handicaps, landing the Royal Hunt Cup in 2015 and winning the Paradise Stakes last year off 112.
He does tend to prefer a firmer surface but was second in this race two years back on good to soft off a mark of 109 when hampered badly in-running and his run into 10th in the Cambridgeshire was encouraging last time out, travelling strongly but unable to quicken on the slow side of the track. This may well have been Gosden’s plan for some time and odds of 16/1 makes plenty of appeal.
Turning attentions to today’s action, it was disappointing to lose Haydock’s seven-race card after racing was abandoned following an inspection. It’s even more annoying when I really fancied two on the card, but they’ll have to stay in the notebook for another day!
At Redcar, Katie Walsh is a fascinating booking on Relevant in the Lady Amateur Riders Handicap (4.55) over a mile and two furlongs and I’ll bet her long journey across the Irish Sea will be a winning one.
This looks a very winnable contest and, although Relevant needs to step up on her second at Carlisle last time out (went off evens favourite), Karl Burke must fancy a massive run and the booking of Walsh is eye-catching to say the least.
Finally at Newcastle tonight, Gun Case is surely a winner-in-waiting and I’d be disappointed if he fails to land the Heart Breakfast Handicap (7.45) under 3lb claimer Rowan Scott.
Alistair Williams’ five-year-old has become dangerously well handicapped and was desperately unlucky not to win over course and distance last month, held up in rear before unleashing a late run but denied by a short head. Traffic problems encountered that day should be avoided here from stall one and Gun Case should prove hard to beat off a mark of 60.
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