The Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup run over six furlongs is the main event of the weekend this side of the Irish Sea (2.25pm, Saturday, live on ITV). Harry Angel is the 2/1 favourite and the one they all have to beat after his July Cup triumph but the testing ground is a concern.
This talented three-year-old son of Dark Angel is rated 3lb higher than his rivals but he is an excitable type who can compromise his chances by being over keen. He has been masterfully handled by Clive Cox who thinks that he could be the best horse he has ever trained but Cox admits that he is not straightforward.
Owned by Godolphin, Harry Angel has had issues with the stalls and can get anxious. He ran off with Adam Kirby in the Commonwealth Cup but still managed to finish second, within a length of Aidan O’Brien’s Caravaggio. Harry Angel’s ability is beyond question but ground slower than good to soft is an unknown for him. He tends to run with the choke out and could well be vulnerable in these conditions.
Kevin Ryan’s Brando is the 3/1 second favourite. He finished third, beaten less than two lengths by Harry Angel in the July Cup and was last seen winning the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in early August. That victory was not as impressive as it looks on paper. The favourite Caravaggio failed to fire and Martyn Meade’s 28/1 shot Aclaim finished half a length behind Brando in second. Richard Hannon’s 66/1 outsider Tupi took third. The first three home were all held up off the generous pace.
This five-year-old is a typical son of Pivotal and seems to enjoy a bit of give in the ground. Brando has claims but he seems plenty short enough for a horse who broke a blood vessel when running on soft ground at York in May.
The four-year-old Tasleet (5/1) finished last in the July Cup after testing Jim Crowley’s arm strength but was only beaten a neck by The Tin Man in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot after encountering traffic problems. Trained by William Haggas for Hamdan Al Maktoum, this son of Showcasing took the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes in May on soft beating Magical Memory two and a half lengths.
Haggas was surprised by the victory as he thought his diminutive charge was at his best on decent ground. Tasleet definitely benefited from hold-up tactics as Nameitwhatyoulike set a furious pace up front. Tasleet’s Diamond Jubilee form looks solid but the quality of his win at York is questionable. He shares a rating of 116, 3lb lower than the favourite, with Brando but seems equally difficult to follow with much confidence.
Another horse rated 116 is Godolphin’s three-year-old Blue Point (10/1). He was impressive as a juvenile, winning three of his six starts, including the Gimcrack at York. Trained by Charlie Appleby, he started as the 13/8 favourite on his debut this term and beat Harry Angel a length and a half in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot in May. Blue Point did not help himself by being slow out of the stalls but neither did Harry Angel who was extremely keen.
This son of Shamardal was last seen getting beaten just over a length by Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup. He took third, half a length behind Harry Angel. Blue Point is untried on ground slower than good but he has never finished out of the first three in his eight runs, and they include three Group 1s, two Group 2s and a Group 3. His regular pilot William Buick is out of action after getting injured in the US so the equally capable James Doyle takes the ride for the first time. Shamardal was not ground dependent and this new partnership look to have each-way claims at least.
The three-year-old Spirit Of Valor (33/1) is also rated 116 by the handicapper. Trained by Aidan O’Brien this son of War Front has been wearing blinkers as well as his usual tongue tie this season. They worked well when he scored in the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh in July, beating David O’Meara’s So Beloved nearly two lengths. That was over seven furlongs on quick ground.
Ballydoyle has experimented with longer trips for Spirit Of Valor without success. A testing six furlongs could suit him, he beat almost nothing in his outings over a mile and slightly further earlier this season. Spirit Of Valor was last seen having a nightmare in running and getting beaten nearly five lengths by Breton Rock in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in early August. War Front’s progeny are generally beneficiaries of quick ground but this colt won his maiden on very testing ground and was narrowly beaten in a Group 3 on yielding as a juvenile. Spirit Of Valor’s price looks generous as he is definitely not a hopeless case. The main Ballydoyle jockeys are at Leopardstown so Jimmy Quinn has been booked to partner him for the first time.
James Fanshawe’s five-year-old gelding The Tin Man (7/1) should cope with conditions and, rated 117, has realistic claims. He was disappointing in the July Cup but previously took the Diamond Jubilee on ground quicker than ideal for him.
The Tin Man was runner-up in this race year, beaten nearly two lengths by Karl Burke’s star filly Quiet Reflection. That was on soft ground and he did not help himself by lingering in the stalls. It would be no surprise to see him improve on that placing this time.
Our Preview’s Haydock Sprint Cup Betting Tip @ 33/1
Harry Angel may well bolt up but underfoot conditions coupled with his temperament make him unappealing at 2/1. The Tin Man and Blue Point are both interesting each-way but our preference is for the completely overlooked Spirit of Valor. His rating puts him right into the mix and he has form on soft ground.
- SPIRIT OF VALOR could well provide Ballydoyle with another extremely long-priced winner at the top level, back him each-way best priced at time of writing this preview at 33/1 with Paddy Power.
Compare Haydock Sprint Cup Betting Odds from Top Bookies
Here are the latest odds for the race, from our recommended UK bookies:
|The Tin Man||13/2||6/1||13/2||13/2||13/2||13/2||13/2||13/2||13/2|
|Spirit of Valor – Non Runner|