The Betfred Sprint cup, ran over 6f at Haydock, is one of the bigger sprint Group 1’s in the UK’s Flat Racing calendar. You need to be a smart horse to win this race and looking back over history it usually won by a horse that deals well with soft ground due to the timing of the race. This is no different this year as the ground is currently Good to Soft at Haydock and this has been reflected in the notable absentee’s from the race including the brilliant Limato and it is unfortunate we do not see him line up today. Last year the race was won by David O’Meara’s G Force and in 2013 globetrotting Gordon Lord Byron took the race by 3 lengths ridden by Johnny Murtagh. This year both of these are in the field and we take a look at the key runners and riders below:

9. Adaay. Rated 115. Current best price 7-1.

Adaay has always shown form over his career and he seems to be a very versatile horse as he has won over 6f and 7f, in addition to a range of ground conditions. Apart from his minor blip at Royal Ascot (where Paul Hanagan chose this horse over Muhaarar) he has won 3 times including 2 Group 2’s, and he is a very solid favourite here. There are no real negatives to his name; he is 1 from 1 at Haydock and must be considered. He began the betting at around the 12-1 mark so there has been some considerable money for him since winning well at Newbury. CONTENDER.

1. Danzeno. Rated 113. Current best price 8-1.

This horse has ran some very solid races over the past year or so but considering he is only 1 point larger than Adaay I’m not sure there is any value in his price. He just has the 3 wins to his name and only one of these was Group standard and I think he looks set to fall short again here tomorrow in a hugely competitive race.

5. Gordon Lord Byron. Rated 116. Current best price 8-1.

What can you say about this horse. 3 time Group 1 winner, winner of races across the world, huge money spinner and an absolute star of flat racing over the years in my view. He runs with such bravery and as someone having a bet there is nothing more you can ask for. He won this race a couple of years ago and has been ultra consistent over the years – if there was one point to make which further boosts his claims it is that he prefers ground on the soft side. One concern, however, is that he has fallen a little short of top quality (his last run was given an RPR of 110 which is below the Group 1 standard) and with some exciting types in the race he may just fall short. He will not be far away however. CONTENDER.

12. Mattmu. Rated 115. Current best price 9-1.

This horse really interests me. He is rated level with Adaay and I think that is completely justified on his form – he ran a cracker over his less-preferred distance in the Nunthorpe to finish 3rd (4 lengths off Mecca’s Angel) and before that was delivered late to win a Group 3 in Ireland from the likes of Anthem Alexander and Maarek. He does have a few lengths to find with Adaay based on earlier form in the year but with the ground having a bit of cut he will have his ideal conditions tomorrow and he fits a huge amount of boxes for this race. I make him a huge contender.

11. Magical Memory. Rated 108. Current best price 14-1.

This is clearly a talented horse and has improved by 21lb this year which has left his owners to stump up a supplementary fee for this race. He falls short on some of the other horses in terms of rating & form but he is less exposed than others and if he continues to improve as he has he could be in the shake up. However, he does have a negative in the ground (much prefers fast ground) and he comes up against proven performers on the surface. He is probably worth swerving but a price around 20-1 would tempt me for an each way play.

10. Belardo. Rated 113. Current best price 16-1.

Similar to Magical Memory he has been supplemented for the race and it’s been frustrating to see him over 1m distances this year as they have just not suited. Back to 6f we should see the best of him again however he is up against some top class proven performers, and even though the drop in trip is a plus and the ground will play to his strengths, I would be a little surprised if he could beat all the more experienced horses. The first time visor is also a negative as you don’t want to be playing around with headgear moving into a Group 1. (There is also an argument that backing horses in first time headgear shows a huge loss over the long term).

Other notable runners include Sole Power & Tiggy Wiggy, who both don’t seem to be at their best which is a shame, and the 6f doesn’t really suit either of them, despite them being huge fan favourites. Waady has been nibbled at after his Group 2 success but beating Wind Fire by a nose is not my idea of a horse that can win a Sprint Cup and his current price flatters him. Henry Candy’s Twilight Son is another improving type but to make a step up from a Class 2 into a Group 1 is huge and one only an extremely rapid improver could make.

How do we bet? I still think there is a tiny bit of value in Adaay’s price as to me he shows the best form in the race and with some firms paying 4 places it seems likely he would be at least there or thereabouts. But for me the 2 point bigger price in MATTMU is hugely tempting. He has ran extremely well this year and is a proven runner on soft ground. To me, the run in the Nunthorpe despite being an inadequate trip showed how well he is in himself and 9-1 seems large. Higher drawn horses also tend to fair better at Haydock on Good to Soft and in stall 10 I think he has a great chance.

Selection: MATTMU. I would advise a 1pt EW bet at 9-1 with most firms paying 4 places at 1/4 of the odds.

Good luck

The Snout

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