The Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup, run over six furlongs at the Merseyside track, has produced three successful favourites in the last ten years (4.30pm, Saturday).
With winners at 14/1, 12/1, 11/1, 10/1 (twice) and 9/1 in the same period, it is a race in which the market leaders don’t always have things their own way. Burdened with favouritism for this year’s renewal is the four-year-old Limato (2/1), trained by Henry Candy (pictured).
He recorded his first success at the highest level when quickening clear to beat Suedois (14/1) by a couple of lengths in the July Cup at Newmarket on his penultimate start. The Tagula gelding was subsequently beaten fair and square by Mecca’s Angel in the Nunthorpe Stakes over the minimum trip at York last month. Limato should be suited by the return to six furlongs and is, in the view of the official handicapper, the best horse in the race.
Quiet Reflection (5/1) has 2¼ lengths to find with Limato on their running in the July Cup, but is actually 4lb worse off at these weights, so may struggle to reverse the form.
The Tin Man (7/1) was disappointing on his last attempt at Group 1 level, when only eighth of nine beaten six lengths behind Limato’s stable companion Twilight Son in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. While he has since comfortably won the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury he, too, has something to prove at this level.
Magical Memory (10/1) was only beaten a neck, a short head and a head behind Twilight Son in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, but never threatened when only seventh of 18, beaten 4½ lengths, behind Limato in the July Cup and re-opposes on identical terms.
The Zebedee gelding has yet to win at the highest level, but was only beaten three-quarters of a length in this race last year. With an unsettled weather forecast for the rest of the week in the North West, Magical Memory could be a force to be reckoned with once again.
So, too, could Suedois (14/1), who has made excellent progress since joining David O’Meara in March and may still have a little improvement in him. Strictly speaking, he’s held by Limato on their running in the July Cup, but he should run his race regardless of the weather conditions on Merseyside and, at the odds on offer, must have a solid each-way chance.
Aside from the fact that she is a filly, not a colt, Dancing Star (8/1) is very much in the mould of last year’s winner, Twilight Son, a similarly progressive three-year-old who won on his first attempt at Group level after progressing through the handicap ranks.
Dancing Star has already officially improved 33lb since the start of the season and looked better than ever when beating Orion’s Bow by 1¼ lengths in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood in July. She has something to find with Limato on official figures, but there’s really no telling where her improvement could end.