Pro­gram­ming can make a horse

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - RACING - DAVID THISELTON

BRI­TISH three-year-old sprint sen­sa­tion Harry An­gel will head to As­cot next month to at­tempt an his­toric sprint treble and this will be vin­di­ca­tion for the Euro­pean Pat­tern Com­mit­tee (EPC).

This Ir­ish-bred colt’s suc­cess pro­vides a cur­rent ex­am­ple of how im­por­tant na­tional race pro­gram­ming can be in the mak­ing of a horse.

The South African pro­gram lacks sprint op­por­tu­ni­ties for three-yearolds, although the Var Syn­di­cate ad­dressed this is­sue in the 2010/2011 sea­son and the big sales races are also play­ing a role in fill­ing this gap.

How­ever, the SA pro­gram­ming com­mit­tee could take heed of the Harry An­gel suc­cess story.

Harry An­gel

The Godol­phin-owned Harry An­gel showed he is some­thing spe­cial last Satur­day when free-wheel­ing in front in the Group 1 Sprint Cup Stakes over six fur­longs be­fore kick­ing clear to win full of run­ning by four lengths de­spite the ground of­fi­cially be­ing “heavy”.

Last month the Clive Cox-trained Dark An­gel colt won the Group 1 Dar­ley July Cup Stakes over six fur­longs at New­mar­ket on good to firm ground.

Next month he will go for the Group 1 Bri­tish Cham­pi­ons Sprint at As­cot and at­tempt to be­come the first horse to land this par­tic­u­lar treble.

Three years ago in Au­gust 2014, the EPC sat down to ad­dress the lack of op­por­tu­ni­ties for high-class three-yearold sprint­ers and to im­prove the over­all stan­dard of Group sprint races in Europe.

They noted, “For horses per­form­ing at ev­ery dis­tance other than sprint­ing, the Euro­pean Pat­tern pro­vides a three­year-old only pro­gramme un­til mid­sum­mer, when the Clas­sic gen­er­a­tion is con­sid­ered ready to take on the older horses.

The Com­mit­tee be­lieves it is no co­in­ci­dence that when it comes to mil­ers and mid­dle dis­tance horses, Europe can gen­uinely lay claim to hav­ing the best in the world, how­ever, there is a def­i­nite lack of top class Euro­pean three-yearold sprint­ers.”

The EPC firstly in­tro­duced a lim­ited num­ber of Pat­tern races re­stricted to three-year-olds in the first half of the Euro­pean sea­son, cul­mi­nat­ing in a new Group 1 race at Royal As­cot, and sec­ondly, they sought to de­liver a more bal­anced over­all sprint pro­gramme, pro­vid­ing bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties and greater in­cen­tives to run high class sprint­ers in Europe.

This in­cluded the up­grade of a num­ber of races, in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Cham­pi­ons Sprint on QIPCO Bri­tish Cham­pi­ons Day to Group 1, and the Fly­ing Five on Ir­ish Cham­pi­ons Week­end to Group 2.

Harry An­gel has thus been able to build his con­fi­dence and could well be the best three-year-old sprinter seen in the U.K. and Ire­land for some time.

The bril­liant colt is able to go in any ground and this sea­son has won on both firm and heavy ground.

As a two-year-old Harry An­gel showed his class by win­ning the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes over six fur­longs at New­bury in just his sec­ond start.


He was then rested un­til mak­ing his reap­pear­ance on May 3 at As­cot in the Pav­il­ion Stakes over six fur­longs, where he fin­ished sec­ond, and on May 27 he won the Sandy Lane Stakes over six fur­longs at Hay­dock.

Both of those races are lim­ited to three-year-olds and both were iden­ti­fied in the Euro­pean Pat­tern Com­mit­tee meet­ing in 2014 as races which needed up­grad­ing.

Hence the former race ac­quired Group 3 sta­tus in 2015 and the lat­ter was up­graded from Listed to Group 2 sta­tus in 2015.

Harry An­gel then took part in the new three-year-old Group 1 Royal As­cot event, the Com­mon­wealth Cup over six fur­longs.

The EPC in­tro­duced this in 2015 at the ex­pense of the Buck­ing­ham Palace Stakes, a seven fur­long hand­i­cap.

The Com­mon­wealth Cup is the only Group 1 lim­ited to three-year-olds in Great Bri­tain in which geld­ings are al­lowed to com­pete and is the first age re­stricted Group 1 open to geld­ings in Europe.

Harry An­gel was beaten 0,75 lengths by the Ai­den O’Brien-trained Car­avag­gio in the Com­mon­wealth Cup, but ex­acted re­venge next time out in the July Cup.

In South Africa the for­ward think­ing Pippa Mick­el­burgh of Avon­tuur Stud at­tempted to ad­dress the lack of op­por­tu­nity for three-year-old sprint­ers by in­tro­duc­ing the Need For Speed Sprint Se­ries in the 2010/2011 sea­son, spon­sored by the Var syn­di­cate.

The se­ries in­cluded one race in each of the West­ern Cape, Gaut­eng and KZN. Mick­el­burgh said at the time, “For nearly 20 years, South Africa was with­out a sig­nif­i­cant speed sire which slowly eroded the num­ber of races cater­ing for that cat­e­gory.

“We now sit with an op­por­tu­nity in the rac­ing cal­en­dar for sprint races for three-year-olds.

“This se­ries hopes to fill that gap.” Avon­tuur’s bril­liant stallion Var is just one of a num­ber of top class speed stal­lions cur­rently stand­ing in South Africa.

Cur­rently the chief tar­get for a three-year-old sprinter in South Africa is the Non-Black Type $500,000 CTS 1200 run on Sun Met day. It thus clashes with the Grade 1 Bet­ting World Cape Fly­ing Cham­pi­onships and is also lim­ited to horses sold at CTS Sales.

There is only one Graded sprint lim­ited to three-year-olds in the coun­try, the R250,000 Grade 3 Man O’ War Sprint over 1 100m, run at Turf­fontein in the first week of April.

Var Syn­di­cate

The three three-year-old sprints in­tro­duced by the Var Syn­di­cate re­main NBT events for R150,000 each.

Be­sides those there is the Listed R150,000 Sopho­more Sprint at Ke­nil­worth in the sec­ond week of Jan­uary, the R135,000 NBT WSB Sopho­more 1000 at the Vaal in Septem­ber, the R150,000 Listed Swal­low Stakes for three-year-old fil­lies at Turf­fontein in Jan­uary and the R120,000 NBT Ethek­wini Sprint on Vo­da­com Dur­ban July day.

It is plain to see there are not many con­fi­dence build­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for three-year-old sprint­ers in South Africa the like of which Harry An­gel has ben­e­fit­ted from.

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