Racing UK

Clive Cox joyous as Harry Angel storms to July Cup glory at Newmarket

Saturday 15 July 2017

Watch the closing stages to Harry Angel's win the July Cup plus Tom Stanley's interview with Clive Cox and Adam Kirby and read Andy Stephens' report from the July Course.

By Andy Stephens at Newmarket

Clive Cox’s early instinct that Harry Angel could be the best he has trained was vindicated in 70 sizzling seconds at Newmarket on Saturday as the rapid colt stormed to an emphatic victory in the July Cup.

Cox was shaking with excitement in the moments that followed the race - adrenaline pumping around his body almost as quick as his young horse had galloped - before recovering his composure and talking in eloquent terms about the son of Dark Angel, his hard-working jockey Adam Kirby and everybody associated with the Godolphin-owned three-year-old.

As 68th birthday presents go, this one had a wow factor for Sheikh Mohammed and came with a big bow - even if he was winning back his own money through his sponsorship through Darley.

It was Cox’s second success in the £500,000 feature, the first achieved in a course record time by Lethal Force in 2013.

That remains intact - Harry Angel stopped the clock about 2sec slower - but somehow this felt more significant, if only perhaps because of the quality of the field that Harry Angel took apart after putting his stamp on things over a furlong out.

“This is one of the best July Cups I’ve seen in my lifetime and I’m very proud of the horse and everyone at home,” Cox said. “He’s pretty special and is growing up all the time. He’s become a man today.”

Limato had been a brilliant winner of the race last year and again gave his all re-united with Harry Bentley, but this time the combination were beaten a length and a quarter into second. When Harry met Harry, it was the horse who came out on top.

The imposing Brando, who would undoubtedly fit the role of a bouncer at any equine nightclub, kept on to be a gallant third to signal that Kevin Ryan’s yard is well and truly over its recent unfortunate travails.   

Just to the right of a jubilant Ryan, in the area reserved for fourth tucked around the corner from the principals, the connections of Caravaggio stood together in stunned disbelief.

The build-up to the six-furlong summer showpiece had revolved around the unbeaten grey but the heavily-backed 10-11 favourite never looked comfortable after an awkward start and could not muster the acceleration which had swept him past Harry Angel in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month.

Aidan O’Brien has described him as something special - the fastest thoroughbred he had seen - and this reverse undoubtedly hurt him.

The master of Ballydoyle swiftly congratulated Cox but in the the moments that followed he was completely numb - initially unable to manage any kind of response when asked for his reaction.

It was as if someone had walked into his house carrying a priceless vase that he had been expecting to arrive for months - only to drop it on collection and watch it smash into a million pieces.

Harry Angel is now something of a priceless commodity himself and the undisclosed sum that Sheikh Mohammed paid for him at the end of May, after he had won the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock in a record time, represents good business.

One wonders whether John Ferguson played an integral part in the purchase, shortly before resigning as Godolphin's chief executive and racing manager after his relationship with trainer Saeed Bin Suroor became fractured.

"He’s one of the most brilliant young horses in training and we're delighted to have purchased him,” Ferguson said at the time. "Not only is he a fantastic prospect for all the major Group One sprints, being a son of Dark Angel, he also has the added attraction of being a potential stallion.”

Godolphin have enjoyed a rich vein of form since Ferguson’s departure, though it would be nonsensical to suggest the two are linked.

Barney Roy and Ribchester have more than done their bit for the boys this year and more wins at the highest level seem inevitable for Harry Angel, who already has the Sprint Cup at Haydock and British Champions Sprint at Ascot inked into his schedule. Harry Angel is a best-priced 7-4 with William Hill for Haydock.

“He’s won his Group One and further progress in the department now looks on the cards, probably starting at Haydock (Sprint Cup),” Cox said. “He is very versatile ground-wise so we are lucky in that respect.

“I’m delighted that, on Sheikh Mohammed’s birthday, he’s kept him with us.”

Harry Angel had been beaten three-quarters of a length by Caravaggio at Royal Ascot. This time, he was a length and three quarters ahead of him. The Tin Man, who was eighth, and Tasleet, who trailed home last, were disappointments.

“He has settled more with his racing. He was very fresh at Ascot and he wanted to get going. Adam never got a chance to get a blow into him that day, the choke was out all the way really,” Cox explained. “I think he’s growing up and that’s where we see the progress and improvement, he’s becoming much more the finished article now.

“He’s growing up all the time and he came here with a really good feel. There isn’t a lot of time between Ascot and here so a lot of it is instinctive but the instinctive impression was very good, right from the moment he came off the track at Ascot to be honest.

“Kevin, who rides him at home, was delighted with the way he came out of Ascot and we were very pleased going into the race at Ascot, but even more happy that he’s become a man.”

He added: “I’m so proud that he’s delivered in the fashion that we thought was possible and it’s a wonderful feeling to have a horse like this on our hands.

Kirby could not stop smiling and said: “He proved how good he is today and I’m delighted. He’s a machine, the best you will see for a long time - I truly believe that.”

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