Star sprinter Harry Angel faces 11 rivals as he bids to become just the second dual winner of the £325,200 Gr1 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday.
The four-year-old son of Dark Angel dominated the opposition in the 2017 32Red Sprint Cup, with his four-length verdict over Tasleet (William Haggas/Daniel Tudhope) ensuring he ended the year as the highest-rated sprinter in the world with a rating of 125 in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.
Harry Angel (Clive Cox/Adam Kirby), the 11/8 favourite with 32Red, made a winning return in the G2 Duke Of York Stakes at York in May, but has not raced since injuring himself in the stalls in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 23.
Be Friendly, who was owned by legendary BBC commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan, is the only multiple winner of the 32Red Sprint Cup, having landed the first two renewals in 1966 and 1967.
Tasleet (8/1 with 32Red), who finished second in three Gr1 sprints last season, is having his first start since finishing third in the Gr2 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh in May.
Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum is also represented by three-year-old Eqtidaar (Sir Michael Stoute/Jim Crowley, 18/1), who had Sands Of Mali (Richard Fahey/Paul Hanagan, 16/1) just in behind when landing the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Sands Of Mali captured the Gr2 Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes over course and distance in May – as have the past two winners of the 32Red Sprint Cup.
Supplementary entries James Garfield (George Scott/Frankie Dettori, 8/1) and Sir Dancealot (David Elsworth/Gerald Mosse, 15/2) both come into the top sprint on the back of career-best performances and have boosted the prize money.
James Garfield was worn down late on when second in the G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest over six and a half furlongs at Deauville on August 5, while Sir Dancealot defied a penalty in style to win the seven-furlong G2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on August 18.
The Tin Man (James Fanshawe, 15/2) is out to build on his good record in the 32Red Sprint Cup, having finished second in 2016 and third 12 months ago. In-form jockey Oisin Murphy rides the six-year-old for the first time.
Trainer Kevin Ryan has two contenders courtesy of stable star Brando (Tom Eaves, 11/1), who finished second in the G1 July Cup on his penultimate start, and Gr1 Commonwealth Cup fifth Hey Jonesy (Kevin Stott, 66/1).
Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien saddles Speak In Colours (Donnacha O’Brien, 16/1), who will be the trainer’s first runner at Haydock Park.
The three-year-old bounced back from a disappointing run behind Eqtidaar at Royal Ascot when winning the G3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes in good style at the Curragh on August 12.
O’Brien said: “Speak In Colours has been in good form since he won the last day and Haydock has always been the plan.
“He likes decent ground, but I think he will handle softer conditions as well so that might help him at Haydock. He is improving all the time and has progressed with each run.
“He had one blip at Royal Ascot where he didn’t get the best run through the race. It was a funny race where a few horses underperformed, but he had done nothing wrong before that race and since then, so we just put a line through it and have regrouped with him.
“He is a lovely three-year-old colt and we are hopeful there is more improvement to come.”
Joseph’s father Aidan O’Brien, Ireland and Britain’s champion Flat trainer, relies on Gr1 St James’s Palace Stakes runner-up Gustav Klimt (Ryan Moore, 16/1).
Gustav Klimt finished fifth behind Sir Dancealot at Newbury on his latest start, and has not raced over six furlongs since his racecourse debut at the Curragh in May, 2017.
O’Brien snr said: “We have been playing with the idea of bringing Gustav Klimt back to six furlongs. He is by Galileo and is out of a very fast mare [Massara, a six-furlong Listed winner].
“He worked on Tuesday and we were very happy with him. Speaking to the people at Haydock, it looks like the ground could be on the easy side of good.”
The 12 runners are completed by dual course scorer Donjuan Triumphant (Andrew Balding/Rob Hornby, 40/1), who captured the 32Red Gold Cup over course and distance last September.
The 32Red Sprint Cup is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.