Sprint Cup pinsticker’s guide
Matt Brocklebank looks over the entire field for the 32Red Sprint Cup Stakes at Haydock and concludes that there appears little point opposing Limato.
Limato : The class act of 2016's sprinting division
Showed some Group One potential when trained in France and made a winning start for Kevin Ryan in a Listed race on the all-weather at Lingfield but hasn't added to his tally in seven subsequent outings. The pick of which was his staying-on third in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, though mixed messages in term of trip in three runs since. Overall picture is of a horse not quite up to landing a top-class race and one as deep as this certainly looks beyond him.
Gordon Lord Byron
Grand servant who gave everyone a reminder of what he's still capable with back-to-back wins this summer, the latter of which came in a Group Two at the Curragh over seven furlongs. That's probably more his trip these days but he's evidently one of the more versatile runners in the field given he landed this event in 2013 having scored over a mile earlier that campaign. Warmed up for a return to Haydock with a spin over five furlongs last week, when certainly not disgraced, and he's a pretty big price considering his current BHA mark of 114 is identical to that of The Tin Man.
Brilliant four-year-old who has been quite lightly raced this season for one reason or another – mainly due to the ground being too soft. That is the potential issue again here with rain on the horizon for race day itself but he's likely to be withdrawn if there's too much of a downpour. Barring that his credentials are pretty impeccable following a two-length July Cup win that will be remembered for a long time and another fine effort when second to York specialist Mecca's Angel when dropped back to the minimum trip for the first time in his career two weeks ago. Those wishing to take him on may look to his quirky tendencies for hope, but trainer Henry Candy has ironed out most of the kinks and he rates a very worthy favourite if the going remains suitable.
Big improver last year, initially in handicaps and signing off his campaign with a close third behind Twilight Son and the reopposing Strath Burn in this race 12 months ago. Has picked up where he left off this season and looked a Group One winner in waiting when holding Suedois half a length at bay in York Group Two back in May. Ran to a similar level when fourth in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and although slightly disappointing in the July Cup when last seen, he's been given a break since and comes here fresher than most.
Amazing longevity to his career at the highest level, although this season has marked a significant downturn in his levels of performance. His optimum conditions are lightning-fast ground over five furlongs so hard to see him suddenly reviving in a red-hot Group One at Haydock, where his overall record is one win from five.
Held in high regard by previous trainer Charlie Hills and not hard to see why in light of his progressive 2015 season which featured Group Three success and a short-head defeat in this contest. Slow start to the current campaign resulted in a switch in stables and new handler Robert Cowell has made a name for himself rejuvenating horses such as this. Two outings for Cowell have not seen anything close to a reproduction of the colt's best form but there was some promise last time in first-time cheekpieces over an unsuitable trip on ground quicker than he cares for, and the headgear is retained. Could be coming back to his peak again and looks to have a better draw than last year when a little unlucky with how things panned out. Would also welcome any Saturday morning rain.
Well supported in the antepost lists and those who took the plunge at big prices can certainly expect another decent showing from this consistent performer. He was more prolific for previous connections in France but generally at a lower level and he's been set some stiff tasks by David O'Meara this term. Close second to Magical Memory at York in May and chased home Limato in the July Cup so clearly of interest on the bare form, while his latest run at Deauville left the impression the slightly longer trip there was just beyond him.
The Tin Man
Smooth traveller who hasn't proved the most consistent in his nine-race career to date but when he's hot he's hot and appeared to have more than the official margin in hand when beating Divine by a head in a Newbury Group Three last time out. Questions to answer back in the big league having finished fourth to Muhaarar on Champions Day last year and eighth of nine behind Twilight Son in the Diamond Jubilee this summer on his two previous Group One forays. Obviously open to improvement but others, some at longer odds, have more solid form credentials already in the book.
Very smart juvenile last season and gained his biggest win when taking Group Two honours on soft ground at Maisons-Laffitte 12 months ago. Made a pleasing return in May and although below par at Royal Ascot the following month, he returned to action with an excellent staying-on second to Signs Of Blessing in the Group One Maurice De Gheest last month. Entitled to have needed that run having had July off and he could run a huge race if the forecast rain arrives in time.
Speed merchant who displayed his finest asset when winning a Chester handicap from a lofty mark earlier in the season and again when helping force the pace in the Commonwealth Cup. He only went down by a length behind Quiet Reflection at Royal Ascot, form which entitles him to respect, but two subsequent efforts over five furlongs have lacked his usual zip. Needs a career best by some way and while that's still possible, it's more likely he tees the race up for the closers.
Stablemate of Donjuan Triumphant and, like him, a very useful three-year-old granted some cut in the ground. Given a peach of a ride to collar subsequent Stewards' Cup winner Dancing Star at York in June and far from disgraced in two of his three subsequent starts. Quick turnaround after last weekend's Beverley fifth (only beaten a length) but should be suited by the big field and likely strong pace.
Group Three win at the Curragh in June was an impressive one but the only Group-race victory of her career, which has been fairly hit-and-miss overall. Entitled to have a shot at this based on her head-second to The Tin Man at Newbury in July although understandably a big price on her first outing in top-class company.
Two wins from just seven career starts so still a work in progress and, having missed the whole of 2015, obviously had one or two issues. Back in the groove on second start back with Listed win over this course and distance but latest five-length third to Brando in Sandown Group Three leaves her with a mountain to climb at this level.
Supplemented for this on the back of handicap and Listed victories at Newmarket and Pontefract respectively and evidently on an upward curve. Only a narrow winner last time and she did have the plum draw in one, but it was recorded in a good time and she could yet be capable of much more. Still has too much to prove for the time being, though, and stall 17 doesn't look ideal.
Thriving filly from a yard that has continued in excellent form all season and she looks to have grown up a lot since being beaten by Mr Lupton at York in June. Two subsequent wins have come on good to firm ground, including sweeping success over Orion's Bow in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood. Also handles easier going so no issues in that regard and three-year-olds have a great recent record in this contest.
Along with Kachy, who is also drawn high, she looks set to inject the pace into the race although she seems unlikely to last as long given her form is well short of the level required to compete for the major money here. Not seen since the start of June and while she's gone well fresh in the past, it looks a stiff task to say the least.
Suffered just the second defeat of her career when third behind reopposing pair Limato and Suedois in the July Cup when last seen in July and has already tasted Group One success, albeit in the Commonwealth Cup for three-year-olds only. Trainer Karl Burke has admitted to one or two minor issues with his star filly since Newmarket but is adamant she's back in top form now. Easy enough to oppose on balance given how short she is in the market.
Limato stands out like a beacon in a big field containing several runners with not a great deal between them. Henry Candy's quirky but quality four-year-old is the obvious exception and will surely relish the step back up to six furlongs after a brilliant effort on his first attempt at the minimum trip in the Nunthorpe. Strath Burn takes the eye among those at much longer odds and Robert Cowell is bound to work his magic with this talented performer before long, but the biggest threat is likely to be posed by Stewards' Cup heroine Dancing Star, who looks open to most improvement and gets the very handy age and sex allowances.
2. Dancing Star
3. Strath Burn
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