By Oliver Brett
Clive Cox has issued a sparkling bulletin on Harry Angel, a best-price 9-4 favourite for the 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday, saying there is further inprovement to come from the four-year-old July Cup winner.
The Lambourn trainer told reporters at a media gathering at his stables on Tuesday: "We are very happy with Harry Angel. He has trained really well and, as you can see, he is in a really good frame of mind. We are very much looking forward to Saturday.
"From a personal perspective, I believe there is still more to come from the horse. It won't be up to me if he races next year, but I am just really enjoying this year. I think potentially he could get stronger.
"I think being by Dark Angel and with any sprinter, maturity means the potential is there for more improvement. He has grown up and even watching him this morning, he is enjoying the attention. That is down to maturity. He is enjoying his racing and Kevin Harris, who rides him at home, has done a brilliant job on him.
"It is a dream to have a horse of his calibre. It is a family that has done us proud because Xtension was my first Group Two winner and he is from the same family as Harry Angel. That was part of the attraction in the first place when we looked at Harry Angel as a yearling."
Cox is prepared to let Harry Angel take his chance on thr likely soft ground at the Merseyside course.
Although the Lambourn handler feels Harry Angel is a superior horse on quick ground, the forecast soft conditions in the six-furlong Group One are not expected to be a problem.
The three-year-old came of age on his most recent outing when reversing the form of his defeat behind Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot to claim the July Cup at Newmarket.
Cox said: "He won on good to soft ground when he won the Mill Reef at Newbury last year. I think all of us would prefer less rather than more rain, though.
"He has got form on good to soft ground, so I am quite relaxed really. I wouldn't say there is doubt in him running as he has performed on a softer surface, I just obviously realised how potent he was on a drier surface."July Cup winner Harry Angel, pictured on the Lambourn gallops on Tuesday morning under regular work rider Kevin Harris, is a best-priced 9-4 for Saturday's Group One feature
Regarding his potential rivals, Cox rates the Kevin Ryan-trained Maurice de Gheest winner Brando, who he had behind him at the July Course, as the biggest danger.
Cox added: "I was impressed with Brando in Deauville and obviously his form is pretty good, (finishing) just up behind us in the July Cup.
"I don't think there is any doubt there's half a dozen there that you would give a realistic chance to as you would expect from a Group One race.
"It is well subscribed it's always a top-class race and an iconic sprint race of the season. I'm just pleased we are taking a really nice horse there in good form."
Kirkland Tellwright, clerk of the course at Haydock, confirmed the ground is likely to be soft by the time racing starts at the track on Thursday.
He said: "We are good, good to soft at the moment but we are heading towards soft if the forecast is accurate as we have got quite a bit more rain to come before Thursday."