Everything right for Harry Angel
Clive Cox expects Harry Angel to put up a bold show in the Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes, but still retains plenty of respect for his six rivals at Haydock on Saturday.
The Dark Angel colt bagged the Mill Reef Stakes on the second of two juvenile starts last year and showed he had lost none of his ability over the winter when finishing second in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot last month.
While the winner Blue Point does not line up here, Harry Angel will clash again with third-placed Mubtasim from the William Haggas yard, and the pair will be racing off level weights after Cox's charge was forced to concede 4lb last time out.
Cox said: "I'm very pleased with Harry and quite relaxed about the ground for him. It was pretty easy when he won the Mill Reef, but then it was quicker at Ascot on his reappearance, so I'd be relaxed about the ground if the rain does arrive.
"He is 4lb better off with Mubtasim this time so you'd have to be hopeful of confirming his Ascot position this time.
"He's in very good form and I'm pleased with him, but William's horses have been in great form so far this season and this is a competitive Group Two, so you have to be respectful of all your rivals."
Haggas hopes All-Weather Championship Finals day hero Second Thought can be as effective on his return to turf, while he feels the race is the logical next port of call for Mubtasim.
The Newmarket handler said: "They are both in good shape. It was the obvious race to come for Mubtasim. He was going to run in the Carnarvon Stakes, but he doesn't like soft ground. I just hope the rain stays away, as he is in good shape and I am really pleased with him.
"Second Thought is a nice horse, but I don't know what he will be like back on the grass. He needs a run before Ascot, and again this race is a nice race for him. He is a talented horse and I have not been surprised by what he has done.
"He did well to win at Lingfield as that would have been sharp enough for him and I think the track at Haydock will suit him better.
"They have both got Harry Angel to beat, though, as he was very impressive under a penalty at Ascot."
Although Richard Fahey is at a loss to explain the below-par effort of Brian The Snail at York last week, the Malton trainer is content to turn the son of Zebedee out again quickly as he looks to get his career back on track.
Fahey said: "He seems fine at the moment. We were happy to declare him and the plan is to run. He was very disappointing at York and was beaten after two furlongs.
"He has cantered since then and we have been happy with him. I don't think it had anything to do with the trip. He looks well, though.
"At the moment after his last run we are not looking at anything beyond his next run, we are just looking to get him running better again."
The seven runner field is completed by Poet's Vanity from the yard of Andrew Balding and the Irish-trained duo of Alphabet (Aidan O'Brien) and Medicine Jack (Ger Lyons).