The 32Red Sprint Cup, run over a thrilling 6 furlongs at Haydock, is one of the season’s premier Group 1 contests. This year looks no different with a stellar line-up heading to the starting post. Last year saw the progressive Twilight Son take the spoils but this year’s market tells us to expect a more proven performer on the scene. Here’s a look at how the field is shaping up for tomorrow’s big contest.
LIMATO heads the market and with very good reason. Henry Candy’s superstar will bid to follow in the path trodden by Candy’s Twilight Son last year, and he certainly has the class to do so. His win in the July Cup was as visually impressive as they come, and finishing runner-up to Mecca’s Angel in the Nunthorpe was hardly bad form. He ran a blinder that day and the only thing you could say against him is he may have needed more time between that race and this one. There has been doubt for a long time whether this would even be Limato’s target, which makes me slightly wary of the 7/4 on offer, but there’s no doubting he’s the clear form pick.
QUIET REFLECTION has been a revelation for Karl Burke this season and seemingly doesn’t know how to run a bad race. She racked up five on the bounce when landing the Commonwealth Cup before the ground was probably against her when she ran a brave third to LIMATO in the July Cup. It’s great form and she’s been given almost two months off the track since then, which could prove the key angle here. Interestingly she gets a 6lbs pull from LIMATO here, compared with the 2lbs last time out, where she got within 2 lengths in a hugely creditable effort. The 11/2 about her would look better value on paper than skinny prices about the favourite.
THE TIN MAN has boasted a progressive profile during the last 12 months, topped off with victory in a Group 3 on his last outing. I do, however, have reservations about him competing at the very top level. His mark of 114 is not entirely restrictive, but I don’t get the impression there’s a huge amount more to come in a race of this calibre – and he’s going to need two or three others to have serious off days to land the spoils.
MAGICAL MEMORY is an interesting case. Couple of good wins earlier in the season before he came unstuck in the mud at Royal Ascot. His 7th in the July Cup a a bit of a nothing run as he was held up off the pace against some serious speed horses and was never going to get into proceedings that day. Ridden with a bit more prominence, as he was when landing a Group 2 at York earlier in the summer, he’d have a right good chance of being in the money at least.
It will be some story if DANCING STAR can waltz from handicap company on to this stage and land a race of this stature. Andrew Balding is no mug and I’m sitting up to take note by the very fact he’s targeting this race for the hugely progressive daughter of Aqlaam. She goes up another 6lbs here, though, after her win in the Steward’s Cup and I struggle to tally up her chances in my head against the market principles. Balding could make mugs of us all here, but she won’t be for me.
Elsewhere among the 17 declarations, I must give mention to two very lively outsiders:
KACHY is a horse I’ve had my eye on all season and he’s threatened at various times to explode into life. Tom Dascombe has been experimenting with trips but seems to now be settling on the 6f and his blistering early pace has the ability to get even the best in trouble. His best run of the last few months came at Royal Ascot in the Commonwealth Cup when he was just touched off by Quiet Reflection – and that was after he hung horribly in the closing stages and effectively threw the race away. That kind of form deserves serious respect and if he ran to a similar level here he’d be involved for sure.
The other I like at a price is GOKEN. Go back and watch some of his runs as a punter and it would make you never back horses again. He certainly likes to find trouble in running and his effort in the July Cup was typical – he travelled like a very well handicapped horse that day without the rewards. He’s down the weights a further 3lbs since that day and I remain convinced there’s a big effort in him – at 40/1 he is being too easily written off.
How we bet: LIMATO is hard to oppose on form but I won’t be playing at the price. Instead I’m going to offer up two at a far bigger price who I think are more than capable of making the frame and maybe even scoring a surprise victory.
0.5pts e/w KACHY @ 25/1 (widely available)
0.5pts e/w GOKEN @ 40/1 (Coral)