The Group 1 Sprint Cup is this afternoon’s feature at Haydock, where it looks sure to be hard work on ground currently described as ‘soft’ and only likely to worsen with further rain likely to hit the track this afternoon. Clive Cox’s July Cup winner Harry Angel is unproven on soft ground however, Kevin Ryan’s Brando (2.25) will relish it and should follow-up his recent success under regular partner Tom Eaves.
The selection came from the clouds to finish fourth behind Harry Angel at Newmarket, and bettered that when bolting-up in the Prix Maurice de Gheest last month in France. He re-opposes the 3yo on 4lb better terms and, with the ground in his favour, should reverse the from accordingly.
Mitchum Swagger (3.35) was beaten a head in the Superior Mile at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago and has conditions in his favour to go one better under Tom Queally. David Lanigan’s mud-lover got back to winning ways last time out at Thirsk and looks to be coming back to form ahead of a likely busy autumn campaign.
Compton Mill’s (4.10) sole two turf successes have come on soft ground and he is a confident selection to reward each-way support in the Old Borough Cup. The 5yo is unexposed over staying trips but won well over a mile and a half last time out at Leicester. He is up just 4lb at the weights for that 2l success however, the runner-up has scored subsequently and he should improve for the step up in trip.
William Haggas has a good record in competitive handicaps at Ascot, and I can see Squats (2.45) running a big race in the 7f Handicap. The selection bolted-up on similar ground last month at Newbury, before disappointing on the all-weather under regular partner Georgia Cox. She remains good value for her 5lb claim and at 7/1 with BetVictor, I expect him the pair to reward each-way support.
Squats should handle the likely soft ground more than most, and the same applies to Luca Cumani’s progressive Dubara (3.20) in the Fillies’ Handicap over a mile. The selection is up just 5lb for winning a competitive handicap last month at Goodwood and should make the frame under Jamie Spencer.
There are 5 x Gp 1 races over Irish Champions Weekend, and there’s a good chance trainer Aidan O’Brien will win all five. The Master of Ballydoyle is five-handed in tomorrow’s Moyglare Stakes, with last year’s Irish Leger runner-up Order of St George odds=on with BetVictor to go one better under Ryan Moore.
Moore is likewise odds-on in the National Stakes aboard Gustav Klimt; the 6/1 second favourites for next year’s 2000 Guineas. BetVIctor are 3/1 that Aidan O’Brien trains the winner of all 5 x Gp 1 contests this weekend in Ireland, which looks a terrific price given the horsepower at his disposal.
I expect Moore to ride a Gp 1 double this afternoon at Leopardstown with dual classic winners Churchill and Winter in the Irish Champion and Matron Stakes respectively. Both have looked head and shoulders above their peers this season; with the Galileo filly completing a fourth successive G1 success stepping up in trip to a mile and a quarter in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Winter (5.35) should be just as effective back down to a mile and continue trainer Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant record in the Matron Stakes.
The classic generation have won the last three renewals of the Irish Champions Weekend feature, and six of the last nine, and I expect Churchill (6.45) to bounce back to his brilliant best. The selection thrived for the step up in trip to a mile and a quarter in last month’s Juddmonte International at York and can claim a 5th success at the highest level.
I’ve always been a big fan of Tom George’s progressive chaser Always on the Run (3.05) and expect him to bounce back under the excellent 3lb conditional Ciaran Gethings at Stratford. The selection was well-supported in the market prior to finishing second last time out at Perth, when failing to stay three miles at Perth. He is likely to be suited by the drop back in trip and is a confident selection to go one better from an unrevised mark.