Champions Day is looming ever closer, and for those wanting to place a bet before the flat racing season draws to an end, the Qipco Champion Sprint Stakes is second only to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in terms of profile. One man who is looking forward to the race as much as anyone is trainer Clive Cox, whose three-year-old colt Harry Angel is the odds-on favourite, following a spectacular four-length win at Haydock last month.
Cox told reporters: “He’s come out of the Haydock race absolutely super and I’m very pleased with him.” The question on every punter’s lips is whether any of the other runners have a chance of causing an upset.
Caravaggio a tempting gamble
If any horse knows how to spoil the party for Harry Angel it is Caravaggio, and the online betting sites are only too well aware of the fact. While most are quoting even money at best on Harry Angel, the leading horse racing betting sites have Aidan O’Brien’s three year old as best of the rest, with typical odds of around 4/1.
Last year’s winner The Tin Man should not be overlooked, and trainer James Fanshawe is confident he can do it again. Bookmakers are offering 6/1 odds. Elsewhere, the much-fancied Librisa Breeze looks an ever more compelling shout, with odds lengthening to 14/1 if you shop around. Karl Burke’s four-year-old filly Quiet Reflection could be back to something close to her best after a troubled year and is being offered at 8/1.
Clive Cox remains confident, however, that Harry Angel will have enough in the tank to take on all comers. While the surprise defeat at the hands of Caravaggio at Royal Ascot this summer was troubling, he feels that his colt has made significant progress since then. Any demons created by the loss should certainly have been exorcised by the victory at Newmarket in July when he left his nemesis in his wake.
Cox was full of praise for his competitors, remarking that it was great to see Quiet Reflection back in action and that Caravaggio and The Tin Man were sure to provide stiff competition. Yet there was a look of steely confidence in his eye as he said that despite having great respect for all the other runners, he “would not be swapping Harry Angel for anything.”
An outside shot
If anyone is to cause a real upset, Blue Point is definitely one to keep a weather eye on. The three-year-old bay colt is another from the Godolphin stable and kept Harry Angel honest in both their encounters at Royal Ascot. True, he was left in a distant fourth when they met again in the Sprint Cup, but he was coming off a break and was well below his best.
Trainer Charlie Appleby feels the Sprint Stakes could be his moment to prove what he is really made of. With some bookmakers offering 16/1, there is little doubt that many could be tempted.