©Healy Racing Photos
By Donal Murphy
Clive Cox is excited to see his "once in a lifetime horse" Harry Angel make his return to action in Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes this afternoon.
The Dark Angel colt claimed successive Group One triumphs in the July Cup at Newmarket and the Sprint Cup at Haydock last term and rounded off his campaign by finishing fourth on Champions Day at Ascot.
The Godolphin-owned four-year-old must concede weight all round on his return to action at York, but will still be a hot favourite to see off six rivals.
Cox said: “We are looking forward to bringing him to York.
“We had a tricky spring and I think it’s fair to say this is a starting point. So I’d be pleased when he has got his first run under his belt.
“But he is in good nick and the yard is going well at the moment.”
The trainer added: “He has done very well over the winter. He is turning up with a penalty because of his Group One success last year, but I am very happy with him.
“He is a once in a lifetime horse. He makes the heart race on every occasion you see him on the racetrack.
“It’s a dream to have a top-flight horse. On last year he was the highest-rated six-furlong horse in the world. That’s an amazing accolade and I’m very proud to be in charge of him.”
Last year’s Duke of York hero Tasleet is back to defend his crown.
The five-year-old was no match for Harry Angel at Newmarket or Haydock last season and trainer William Haggas admits he would prefer softer ground for his seasonal reappearance.
Haggas said: “He’s a good horse, softer ground slows the others down a bit, probably, but he’s as good as we can have him for this stage of the season.
“Obviously Harry Angel is a top-class horse and even with a penalty will be very hard to beat still, but you never know.
“The races pick themselves for him this season, except he won’t be going for the July Cup as I don’t think he likes Newmarket. He’ll go for the Prix Maurice de Gheest as a replacement.”
The Kevin Ryan-trained Brando was a disappointing favourite in this race a year ago and connections will expect better after he won the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket for the second time last month.
Ryan said: “He’s in good form, he did well at Newmarket and he should have improved from the run.
“He was disappointing in this race last year, but it’s a different year now and we’ll try again.
“Harry Angel will be tough to beat, but we’ll have to take him on sometime and we can’t avoid him.”
The David Griffiths-trained Ornate, Mick Easterby’s Perfect Pasture, David Elsworth’s course-and-distance winner Sir Dancealot and Dominik Moser’s German challenger Artistica complete the line-up.