This 6f jaunt is a sprint in all sense of the word, although the sticky conditions at Haydock Park – the current going is described as good-to-soft but with more rain around – may just slow the pace somewhat.
The Haydock Sprint Cup is part of the British Champions Series, and along with next week’s St Leger Festival is the perfect send-off for the flat racing campaign. From a punter’s perspective, the last three renewals have been won by three-year-olds, and it is a race in which unheralded combinations can often thrive; David O’Meara, Henry Candy and Karl Burke have trained the last three winners, who have been squired home by Danny Tudhope, Fergus Sweeney and Dougie Costello respectively.
So if you are at a loose end on Saturday, with the ironing done and the rain falling steadily outside, why not flick on ITV at 2:25pm and witness some of the finest sprinters in the land going at it in less than ideal conditions?
Here’s a quick guide to the leading contenders for glory in this year’s Haydock Park Sprint Cup:
With victory in his last start in the Group 1 July Cup, Harry Angel’s stock rose markedly – particularly given the quality of the performers he left eating his dust. Neither Caravaggio nor Limato could make an impression on the three-year-old, and so the Godolphin colt is now considered to be an elite campaigner by anyone’s standards.
He has a victory on softer ground to his name, albeit a low quality Mill Reef Stakes almost a year to the day ago.
And that’s the reason the betting community might not consider him ‘value’ at a widely available 9/4. This is a high quality race, and those are short odds for a horse without a lengthy track record on soft ground.
This five-year-old showed rather nicely in that July Cup edition as mentioned, ad in third place he found himself sandwiched in-between the excellent Limato and the favourite Caravaggio.
The Angie Bailey sprinter followed that up with victory in France in August as a 9/1 fancy. That was on soft ground and he bested another in this Sprint Cup field, Magical Memory, by a hefty margin.
Brando is yet to really mix it in Group 1 company on UK soil, however, and that might just be enough to put some off his chance.
The price available on Tasleet here has lengthened considerably after he finished last of ten in that eye-catching July Cup renewal. But the pace was electric that day on firm footing, and it’s quite possible that the rather more stodgy conditions on Saturday will suit.
Some of the four-year-old’s most memorable performances have come on soft ground, including his victory in the Duke of York Stakes in May (where he bested Magical Memory and another Sprint Cup contender, The Tin Man). Even on firm ground he has shown class, notably his close second to The Tin Man in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, where the pair held off the challenge of Limato to claim the 1-2.
A slower pace will suit Tasleet, and he appears ready to clinch another Group 1 victory.
The Tin Man
The Tin Man is something of a Jekyll & Hyde performer. In his last two starts he has won the prestigious Diamond Jubilee Stakes and finished eighth of ten in the July Cup, so it is hard to get an accurate read of what the five-year-old is capable of.
The most notable aspect of his CV is that there are no victories gained on soft ground, but this is a two-time Group 1 winner that must not be ignored. At odds of 15/2, many will be tempted by an each way flutter on the Fred Archer Racing gelding.
Of all the runners in the field, it is perhaps Blue Point who is the most intriguing.
There’s no track record of success on soft ground, so caution is advised, but some of his efforts in Group 1 outings have been really interesting. He was just a length shy of winner Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup, and defeated Harry Angel in the Merriebelle Pavilion Stakes back in May.
Just two lengths back from the seemingly unstoppable Churchill in the Dewhurst Stakes last year, this is a horse that has shown his hand (hoof?) on more than one occasion in big races. Can he convert that to a major victory? The jury is out on that, but an each way wager at 10/1 is of temptation.