Sprint Cup Preview: Harry To Retain Crown

In what’s sometimes a low-key period, Saturday’s racing has a bit of extra sparkle as it features the likely return of Enable in Kempton’s September Stakes.

Sprint Cup Preview: Harry To Retain Crown

In what’s sometimes a low-key period, Saturday’s racing has a bit of extra sparkle as it features the likely return of Enable in Kempton’s September Stakes.

Kept out of action with injury since winning last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, John Gosden’s star filly will use the all-weather Group 3 as a stepping stone to defending her crown, though it will be back at Longchamp this year rather than Chantilly where she triumphed last October.

Harry Angel
Harry Angel Picture:Racing and Sports

Away from Kempton, the Sprint Cup takes place at Haydock, and whilst it never seems to have a strong enough supporting card to back the race up as one of the leading six-furlong contests of the calendar, it’s a Group 1 that has been won by some big names in the past, including a number of horses that have since gone on to become leading sprint stallions; Green Desert (1986), Royal Applause (1997), Diktat (1999), Invincible Spirit (2002) and Dream Ahead (2011).

Enable Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Assuming he stays sound, last year’s winner Harry Angel Horseform will undoubtedly head to Darley’s Dalham Hall or Kildangan studs at the end of his racing career. A top-class performer, Harry Angel won the July Cup at Newmarket before storming clear for a four-length win from Tasleet in this race last year. He was just as good when successful on his reappearance in the Duke of York Stakes at York (by two lengths from Brando, conceding at least 5 lb to his rivals) in May and had excuses when well held in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, losing all chance when getting upset and sustaining an injury in the stalls at the start.

He didn’t get a chance to break his Ascot hoodoo there (all five of his defeats have come at the Berkshire venue), so the run is best ignored, but he should relish a return to this happy hunting ground, having also won the Sandy Lane impressively (broke course record) here as a three-year-old. He’s won on ground ranging from firm to soft, so should have no problem with the forecast wet weather, and is the clear one to beat on ratings.

The three-year-olds only receive 2 lb from their older counterparts here, yet this race offers a good indication that late-summer is generally the time when the younger horses really start to come into their own, physically and mentally mature enough to start dominating races of this ilk; they’ve won the last four renewals.

The leading three-year-old this year is James Garfield, who was supplemented for this race on Monday along with the year-older Sir Dancealot. James Garfield won the Greenham Stakes at Newbury (by three quarters of a length from subsequent two-time winner Expert Eye) in April and produced a clear career best when a half-length second to Polydream in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last time, collared only near the line. Though he was seen to best effect there, he’s worth another try at a bare six furlongs.

Gustav Klimt’s stable is in much better form than when he disappointed in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last month, and it would be no great surprise to see a renaissance now he’s dropped to six furlongs for the first time since his debut; connections did similar with July Cup winner U S Navy Flag. Commonwealth Cup winner Eqtidaar was below form in that race at Newmarket, but it’s too early to write him off, comments that also apply to July Cup flop Sands of Mali, though he didn’t fare much better in the Maurice de Gheest last time, either. He won the Sandy Lane over C&D earlier this season, though, and is not discounted at a big price.

The aforementioned Sir Dancelot has been a revelation this season, winning four of his eight starts, including three of his last four under Saturday’s jockey Gerald Mosse. Sir Dancealot progressed again when winning the Hungerford Stakes last time by one and a quarter lengths from Dream of Dreams, quickening to lead over a furlong out, and though he was only fourth in the July Cup on his last start at this trip, he’s a big player once more.

Last year’s runner-up Tasleet has added two more placed efforts since, second in the Champions Sprint (Harry Angel fourth, The Tin Man fifth, Brando sixth) at Ascot in October, before finishing third to subsequent Diamond Jubilee winner Merchant Navy in the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh on his return in May. He looked a little half-hearted under pressure there, and hasn’t been seen since, but is respected nonetheless.

The Tin Man was beaten by five and a half lengths in this race 12 months ago, having previously won the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, but bounced back to near his best when winning a listed race at Windsor (by three quarters of a length from D'bai) in May. He looked a little unfortunate (checked before keeping on well for a length fourth) in this year’s Diamond Jubilee, and shaped as if still in good form when third in the Maurice de Gheest last time, faring much the best of those drawn low thanks to ending up coming down the middle.

Brando has run to near his best form (recording a 120 performance rating) on three of his five starts this season, including when second in the July Cup (one and three quarter lengths behind U S Navy Flag). He wasn’t at his best when trying to defend his crown in the Maurice de Gheest last time, but had excuses, racing on the unfavoured stand side and the first home of those closest to the stand rail. He’s a C&D winner and has a good record on soft ground, but bombed out in this race last year after running in France.

Of the others, Donjuan Triumphant was well held in the 2016 renewal of this race but has since added two course wins at a lower level. He’s always had an inconsistent profile, though, and has come up short at the top table before. The formerly high-class Limato has an aversion to rain, so is easy to oppose, despite belatedly proving he retains his ability when outclassing his rivals in a listed race at Newmarket last time.


The only one who makes any real appeal against Harry Angel is Brando, who clearly wasn’t himself in this race last year and ran better than the bare result at Deauville last time. Easy preference, though, is for last year’s winner Harry Angel. Connections are bullish about how well the horse has recovered from the bruising sustained at Ascot and his comprehensive win 12 months ago is still fresh in the memory.

Recommended bets:

Back Harry Angel to win Saturday’s Sprint Cup at 11/8

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