32Red Sprint Cup Stakes (Group1) 6f Haydock Saturday

Last week’s selection, Literalle Ci’s victory in the feature race at Newton Abbot, certainly helped the bank balance, coming home at the generous odds of 7/1 under an excellent ride by the 5lbs Claimer, Aine O’Connor. Always travelling comfortably he quickened close home, and won with a little more up his sleeve than the 1/2L victory would indicate, and could be worth following if turned out under a penalty. Whatever the horse does the talented Ms O’Connor is certainly worth keeping an eye on. With an impressive score of 12 wins from 23 rides she is clearly a claimer going places.

It’s a fair bet there won’t be any claimers aboard any of the contenders in Saturday’s 6f Group1 Sprint Cup in a contest where experience and quick reactions will be at a premium, and of course weight allowances don’t apply in any case. Three jockeys, Frankie Dettori, Adam Kirby, and Gerald Mosse, will be attempting to become the first riders since Pat Eddery in 1989 to ride a second winner of the race which was first run in 1966 under the sponsorship of Vernon’s Pools. Since receiving Group1 status in 1988, Henry Candy is the only double winning handler represented on Saturday which makes his Limato of interest.

The 6yo son of Tagula is a genuine top flight performer, winning two Group1s, (7f Prix De la Foret 2016 and the 6f July Cup the same year) and being placed five times at this level, including an excellent 2nd to Saturday’s opponent, Harry Angel, (rec 6lbs) in last year’s renewal of The July Cup. His first three starts this term were disappointing but he came good last time, winning the Listed, Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket a fortnight ago, comfortably beating Top Score. He will have to find plenty more on Saturday, but in the hands of that master trainer of sprinters, Mr Candy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

Market leader and last year’s winner, Harry Angel is rated 7lbs ahead of his nearest rival, (James Garfield) but has to overcome an aversion to the starting stalls. Sent off the 5/2 fav in June for the Diamond Jubilee he got very upset in the stalls and injuring himself finished lame out the back. He has been on the easy list since, but his top trainer, Clive Cox is convinced that he has him back at the top of his game, and indeed sees a silver lining in his enforced 11 week absence, feeling that being a fresh animal is a definite bonus. Certainly if handling the stalls, (he behaved himself when winning The Duke Of York on his previous start) this double Group1 winner will be hard to beat.

The 3yo James Garfield, trained by George Scott has been campaigned at distances between 5f and 1m but his performance in the Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest over 6 1/2f five weeks ago, would strongly suggest that Saturday’s distance is the son of Exceed and Excel’s optimum trip. In a truly run race he was ahead at the distance and was just run out of it close home by Polydream, (best at 7/8f) and had Saturday’s opponent The Tin Man 2 1/2L back in third. Starting at odds of 42/1 this was a big step forward and with further progress likely and Frankie again doing the steering he has to be worth a close look, particularly as the Classic generation have won 6 of the last 10 renewals.

The David Ellsworth trained 4yo, Sir Dancealot is another animal very much on the up and his win last time in the 7f Hungerford Stakes was pretty impressive. However, while he has won twice at 6f and was 2 3/4L 3rd behind Harry Angel in The 6f Duke Of York in May, he does seem to be better at further.

The Kevin Ryan trained Brando must be a delight to own. Very genuine, he has banked over £3/4 million in prize money for connections, has won 8 of his 28 starts including at the top level (won last year’s Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest) and rarely runs a bad race. He put in an excellent performance to finish 2nd in The July Cup but ran one of his poorer races last time, finishing 8th, 6 1/4L behind James Garfield in The Prix Maurice de Gheest last time.

The Willie Haggas trained 5yo Tasleet finished 2nd to Harry’s Angel in last year’s renewal, albeit at a respectable distance of 4L on heavy ground, but reversed the form 6 week’s later, when finishing 2nd in the Group1 Champions Sprint, he had the Cox Horse 1L back in 4th. He has only had the one run this term, finishing 3rd to Merchant Navy in The Group2 Greenland Stakes at The Curragh in May. Due to a slight setback he hasn’t been seen since, but his trainer reports him in rude health. He handles easy ground (there is rain about) and goes well after a break, so another to consider.

The Sir Michael Stoute trained Eqtidaar is in the same ownership as Tasleet and looked an animal going places when winning the Group1 Commonwealth Cup (3yo’s only) at The Royal Meeting in June, but found little when tackling older animals in The July Cup. However Sir Michael feels that Eqtidaar, a big horse, is now maturing and following a nice break a much stronger effort is anticipated, and it’s worth noting that excellent record of 3yo’s in the race.

Selection : Harry Angel

E.W. : Tasleet

John Gray

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