Star sprinter Harry Angel made a successful start to his campaign with an authoritative display in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes.
A dual Group One winner last season after landing the July Cup at Newmarket and the Sprint Cup at Haydock, Clive Cox’s charge was the 4-9 favourite on his first start since October, despite having to concede weight to each of his four rivals.
Ornate took the field along for much of the six-furlong journey, with Harry Angel racing with plenty of exuberance on his tail.
Adam Kirby asked the market leader to extend inside the final two furlongs and quickly settled matters, pulling two lengths clear of the high-class and race-fit Brando – without being asked for maximum effort.
Kirby said: “I was really pleased with him. We knew he’d be a bit fresh and he showed his well-being for the first quarter, but when I pulled him out and stuck into him a bit he found top gear and finished off strong.
“I think he’s definitely improving, his mind has definitely improved.
“He’s nice and relaxed and doing everything a lot better now.”
Cox said: “It’s great it’s all come together. A lot of people have shown a lot of patience.
“He was a little bit fresh but because of the weather he hasn’t been off the bridle at home.
“He’ll improve for that and while I wouldn’t say I was concerned coming here, with a penalty, I’m pleased it’s out of the way.
“He had to work in the last half-furlong, which will explain him drifting to the left.”
Harry Angel was roundly chopped in the betting for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and will now head straight to Royal Ascot.
Cox said: “It will be Ascot next and then the July Cup. Lethal Force was second in this before winning at Ascot so hopefully he goes one better.
“People mention he’s never won at Ascot but I think they are reading too much into it. I’m not looking to run him over five furlongs. Why change a good thing?
“The Everest (in Australia) would be nice if we had a slot but that is not for me to decide and that is a long way off.”
Kevin Ryan was pleased with Brando’s effort but paid tribute to the winner.
He said: “I’m delighted with him, it was a fantastic performance and he’s run a huge race.
“He’s been beaten by a sensational sprinter on the day who was giving us weight.
“He won’t go to Ascot, we’ll try to box clever. He’s in the Greenlands Stakes in Ireland in a couple of weeks.
“We’ll then probably skip Ascot and go for the July Cup – he loves Newmarket – and the Prix Maurice de Gheest which he won last year.”