Harry Angel: returns to action in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes

3.30 York 

Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 3) | 6f | 3yo+ | ITV4/RUK

Can Harry Angel concede 5lb penalty?

It will be great to see Harry Angel, who thrived during a season of relentless high achievement in 2017, back on the racecourse.

The Godolphin-owned speedster landed two Group 1s last year – the July Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup – in scintillating style, and his trainer Clive Cox reports him to be a "stronger, more mature" horse now.

"I'm very pleased with him," Cox said. "He looks even stronger this year after a good winter on his back.

"He's done well in the build-up to this race and, while I expect him to come forward for the run, he's in a good place at present."

The conditions of the race mean that Harry Angel must concede weight all round, but Cox is not unduly perturbed by that.

"He has strengthened up both mentally and physically, which is good because he will be required to carry a Group 1 penalty for what he achieved last year," the trainer said.

"It was unbelievable what he achieved – taking on older horses and beating them as a three-year-old was great."

All being well, York is a stepping stone to Royal Ascot in June for the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes ahead of a defence of his July Cup crown at Newmarket the following month.

Is Brando still going under the radar?

The fact that Brando was allowed to start as big as 9-2 for Newmarket's Group 3 Abernant Stakes last month, which he won by three-quarters of a length from Sir Dancealot, is perhaps an indication that Kevin Ryan's six-year-old remains underrated by many.

However, his exploits last year, which included victory in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, show that he must be taken seriously at any level.

Adam Ryan, assistant to his father, said: "Brando is a Group 1 horse. He was a bit below-par towards the end of last season, but showed what he could do at Newmarket last month.

"He was very impressive that day and is 110 per cent ready. Harry Angel is obviously the one to beat, but we've got a run under our belt."

Can Tasleet repeat last year's success?

Tasleet, beaten a neck by The Tin Man in Royal Ascot’s Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes last June, subsequently twice finished behind Harry Angel.

Last of ten in the July Cup, the William Haggas-trained five-year-old, who won this race in fluent fashion 12 months ago, then chased home the Godolphin speedster in the Haydock Sprint Cup, beaten four lengths.

He then got the better of Harry Angel when second to Librisa Breeze in the Champions Sprint at Ascot in October, and Haggas is hoping for a repeat victory on the Knavesmire. 

"Tasleet should enjoy the ground and has done plenty of work, but whether he's up to beating Harry Angel – even getting 5lb – is another matter," he said.

"We are very hopeful he will run a good race."

Can Sir Dancealot raise his game?

Sir Dancealot, one of only two course-and-distance winners in the field, comes out fourth-best on official ratings behind Harry Angel, Tasleet and Brando.

David Elsworth's four-year-old progressed really well last year and ran a terrific race on his return when second to Brando in the Abernant at Newmarket.

It would be no surprise to see him improve further this term.

Any chance of a major shock?

With Perfect Pasture likely to be ruled out unless there is a deluge overnight, the other two runners, Ornate and the German challenger Artistica, are likely to be big-priced outsiders.

Ornate was having his first start for David Griffiths, who excels with sprinters, when eighth of nine behind Mabs Cross in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes.

Griffiths said: "He ran just okay at Newmarket, and still hasn't got his summer coat. He's in good order and has been working well, but it's a hot Group 2."