Racing UK ambassador Paul Mulrennan gives his verdicts on the big races on Saturday and nominates others to note at Haydock and Thirsk.
If Harry’s Angel is over his stalls problems then he should win the feature race of the weekend, the Group One 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock.
He suffered a horrible incident in the stalls at Royal Ascot, when his leg was caught over the side of the stall as the starter let them go. Not surprisingly, he never got into the race.
Incidents like that can leave their mark, not just physically, but mentally too. And no matter how much stalls training is done at home, it can never replicate the racecourse experience.
That said, he’s in the rights hands as trainer Clive Cox will leave no stone unturned in a bid to get him back.
Of his rivals, I put Sir Dancealot up in this column when he won at Newbury last month. He’s a horse I won on earlier in the season and he has gone from strength to strength.
His last two wins, both in Group Two races, came over seven furlongs and I do think that might be his optimum trip rather than this six-furlong distance.
But he was fourth in the July Cup over this trip and Gerald Mosse has built a formidable partnership with him. He looks a fantastic each-way price at about 9-1.
Gosden will have angles covered with Enable:
The 188Bet September Stakes at Kempton will be the other focus of the day. The race sees the return of Enable, who hasn’t run since her breathtaking win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Any thoughts of giving her a nice gentle reintroduction have been scuppered with the presence of Crystal Ocean in the field, who is rated 1lb superior to Enable but must concede 8lb.
We all know how difficult it is for horses to come back to their best after a prolonged spell so I wouldn’t advise people to have a play in the race, although if there’s one trainer who can get a horse back it’s John Gosden, as we saw with Lah Ti Dar’s win at York.
John will have all angles covered for Enable’s return, and her stablemate Weekender will no doubt ensure there’s a true pace. Her comeback will all be about making sure she has the best possible experience ahead of her defence of her Arc crown.
As an aside, I am delighted David Probert has been called up for Crystal Ocean. He’s a class rider and won’t let anyone down.
Make a date with Romance:
Intense Romance is well worth a look in the Unibet Be Friendly Handicap at Haydock. She has been dropped 5lb since the start of the season and has been unlucky not to get her head in front.
She bumped into a good one in Global Applause at Sandown last week and I think she’ll run a big race at a nice price.
One other to pick out is Billy No Mates, who runs in the Barkers of Northallerton Nursery Handicap at Thirsk.
He will appreciate the step up to handicap company and is a horse we’ve always liked. He ran much better than his sixth suggested last time as he was badly hampered. The step up to seven furlongs will suit too.
Good luck to PJ:
Finally, best of luck to PJ McDonald, who suffered a double fracture in a freak injury in the Newcastle paddock on Monday. He had just brought up his 100, a hell of an achievement to do that in early September, and then he suffers a nasty tumble before the very next race.
It seems like I’m writing about injured jockeys a fair bit and it just shows how up and down this sport is. As Mick Easterby always used to tell me, “this game can tame lions”.