Thirteen sprinters were declared for Haydock’s Group 1 Sprint Cup on Saturday on ground described as soft – good to soft in places – on Thursday morning. Commonwealth Cup winner Advertise remains BetVictor’s 2/1 favourite. If there is any more rain I wonder if July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns – 11/2 at BetVictor – will be allowed to take his place in the field given his best form is on a fast surface.
Haydock’s card this afternoon opens with a 7f Novice Stakes for two-year-olds. The Fillies’ Mile entry Tulip Fields has been placed in her two starts to date, but the form of her Goodwood third last time has not been franked and she is overlooked.
Her Majesty’s Dusty Dream (1.45) is bred to be smart and she also holds a Fillies’ Mile entry. This well-bred daughter of Dubawi gets the vote on debut for the William Haggas yard despite the fact that he has a poor draw to overcome in stall seven.
Lincoln Park (4.00) is 6lbs higher than when scoring over today’s C&D back in October but soft ground clearly suits Mick Appleby’s three-year-old who also finished third over C&D back in July on fast ground.
Ocala didn’t have the run of the race last time, but her finishing effort was still disappointing. Preference is for the progressive three-year-old Qarasu (4.30) who appreciated the return to soft ground when scoring at Newbury last time. This is a better race and a 9lbs rise makes life more difficult, but Roger Charlton’s colt is clearly going the right way and should enjoy underfoot conditions.
The “Blaydon Races” Nursery is the feature contest at Newcastle this afternoon and it is a cracking race with four of the six runners last-time-out winners. All six can be given a realistic chance but I hope to see Gallaside (3.15) grind it out from the front and land his personal hat-trick.
The selection is built to carry weight and has useful course form winning over 7f here on his penultimate start. He subsequently followed up at Nottingham stepped up to a mile although the handicapper has had his say and he must defy a 7lbs rise.
Shawaaheq (3.05) was given an excellent ride to make all over a mile at Lingfield – polytrack – last time and a 2lbs rise for that success looks fair. He will not get a soft lead at Ascot this afternoon, but he has enough pace to cope with the slight drop in trip and Jim Crowley keeps the ride.
Bless Him (4.10) returned to his best form when scoring at Yarmouth last week and David Simcock’s 5-year-old won the Britannia Handicap over today’s C&D a couple of years ago. The selection needs a good pace to chase under the “head waiter” Jamie Spencer and Amanda Perrett’s confirmed front-runner Zhui Feng should ensure there is a decent gallop to chase.
Total Commitment is only 3lbs higher than when scoring on his belated seasonal reappearance at Newmarket a fortnight ago and Ryan Moore looks a significant jockey booking for Roger Charlton’s three-year-old.
The vote however, goes to Whelans Way (4.40) who scored over C&D on soft ground earlier in the season, but today’s faster ground should not be an inconvenience. The selection has not scored since that win back in May but has run consistently well in defeat since and James Doyle takes over in the saddle.
At Kempton this evening Stars in The Sky (6.10) may have been flattered to get within a length of the promising Alpen Rose at Doncaster last time but she had the third 5L back and the William Haggas’ filly is taken to go one better this evening.
John Gosden’s Golden Horn colt Byzantine Empire is a half-brother to the yard’s Richard Pankhurst and Crazy Horse and runs in the colours of the trainer’s wife Rachel. It goes without saying that a market move would be worth noting.
Alma Linda (8.40) was only beaten a nose when second here over 1m 3f last week giving every indication that tonight’s additional furlong will see her in an even better light. She has been raised 2lbs for that effort but can run off her old mark this evening. If there is no pace in the race I would hope to see jockey Ryan Tate make plenty of use of his filly from stall one.