This afternoon’s Betfred Sprint Cup is the pick of a fantastic day’s racing which also includes the Bristol Handicap as well as three Group 3s. The 6f, Group 1 contest at Haydock Park has a fascinating look to it on paper. The sprinting sensation of the season and defending champion are just 2 of the 17 that head to post at 3:50pm.
Pearl Secret (28/1) was back in form when fending off late challenges in a Listed event most recently, although the plum draw at Beverley was to his advantage on that day and the step back up in class and the extra furlong are likely to catch him out. Qatar Racing may well have better claims with Hot Streak (22/1). The apple of Kevin Ryan’s eye has arguably disappointed since his emphatic Temple Stakes success, though I’m convinced the speedy 3 year is a future Group 1 winner. Evidence so far, however, suggests it’s more likely to come over the minimum trip and preferably with some cut in the ground.
Tropics (11/1) is another who comes in off the back of a Listed win. That said, Dean Ivory’s stable star’s most impressive performance was his penultimate 2nd to Slade Power in the July Cup. If he can reproduce that form, he’s sure to be on the premises.
Music Master (7/1) got up in the dying strides over the same trip at Newbury in July, with Es Que Love (20/1) back in 3rd. The latter has franked that form since, though my feeling is that the pair may just be a little out of their depth here.
A duo of Irish raiders head the market, with last year’s winner Gordon Lord Byron sitting behind Sole Power at 6/1 and 3/1 respectively. Tom Hogan’s gelding has an impressive record at the track, however unlike last year, his recent form has been patchy; though the most recent 2nd was a step in the right direction.
Eddie Lynam’s veteran sprinter has had a summer to remember and is a worthy favourite in his bid for a hat-trick of Group 1s. His recent success is largely thanks to some vintage riding from Richard Hughes, who seems the perfect fit. The greatest concern revolves around the distance, with all of his best form coming over 5f. The son of Kyllachy is renowned for his breath-taking turn of foot, which will be slightly blunted over this extra furlong. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hughes pulls off another Houdini-esque miracle, but my head is telling me to look elsewhere.
A length and three-quarters behind Sole Power – despite finishing 9th – in the Nunthorpe Stakes on just his 3rd start was COUGAR MOUNTAIN (12/1) under Joseph O’Brien, who will certainly appreciate the step back up to 6f. Having won on his belated debut in June, Aidan O’Brien wasted no time in introducing him to Group 1 action so he’s clearly held in high regard. The Nunthorpe effort was preceded by a very promising 5th in the July Cup, and with those experiences behind him, the Fastnet Rock colt can improve beyond his rivals at very attractive odds.