Angel attempts to defy divine intervention

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Ever since he won the July Cup in spectacular fashion, Harry Angel has been hot-favourite to win this weekend’s Sprint Cup at Haydock Park.

Clive Cox’s precocious colt shattered the track record over six-furlongs earlier this season in romping to victory in the Sandy Lane Stakes over course and distance and was roundly expected to take all the beating in Haydock’s biggest Flat race of the year.

Harry Angel is now out to 9/4f, however, and it isn’t so much his rivals threatening to scupper his hopes, but the British weather.

The going is officially soft, with potential for more rain to come before the off (14:25), sparking market support for the likes of Brando (3/1) and last year’s runner-up The Tin Man (8/1) in the Sprint Cup betting.

Cox insists Harry Angel is going to run and he handled slow ground when taking the Mill Reef as a juvenile last term. If the trainer consents to run, his judgement should be trusted.

He may not be breaking any track record as he did earlier in the season, but there is a very strong chance Harry Angle can again master the likes Brando (third), Growl (sixth), The Tin Man (eighth), Mr Lupton (ninth) and Tasleet (tenth) – all behind him in the July Cup at Newmarket.

For those seeking to oppose him, James Fanshawe’s The Tin Man is a viable alternative having run so well on soft ground in this race 12 months ago.

It’s a very busy Saturday up and down Britain and punters might be able to boost their coffers with a pair of fancied runners at Ascot and Thirsk.

Charlie Appleby’s Soliloquy runs in the Fillies’ Novice Stakes (14:10) at Ascot. She’ll have learned plenty from a runner-up finish at Newmarket on debut, when she rather scuppered her chance by running a bit green late on, and may justify odds of around 5/2 to go one better now.

Up at Thirsk, Michael Dods’ Barwell (3/1) has strong claims in the Hambleton Cup (17:15). He’s been a revelation since going handicapping and was just held in his hat-trick bid at Doncaster last time. This longer journey is in his favour and he should collect a third win in four races.

There’s also a host of top-level action in Ireland where Champions Weekend takes place at Leopardstown (Saturday) and the Curragh (Sunday).

The wonderful filly Winter (10/11) appears the banker of Saturday’s Leopardstown card in the Matron Stakes (17:35) over a mile while Dermot Weld’s Zhukova could be overpriced in the Irish Champion Stakes (18:40) at around 14/1, particularly should any rain fall at the Foxrock track.

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