HORSE RACING FIXTURES AND RESULTS
HORSE RACING FEATURE
Sprint Cup: Don't forget to back Memory
Ben Fearnley previews Saturday's Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock and picks out an ante-post bet.
After Muhaarar had won the July Cup and the Prix Maurice de Gheest, last year’s Sprint Cup served to underline a changing of the guard in the sprint division, with the front three places filled by Muhaarar’s fellow three-year-olds Twlight Son, Strath Burn and Magical Memory, with the champion six-furlong sprinter himself being given a break before the Champions Sprint Stakes on British Champions Day in October. Though Muhaarar was, of course, retired after his fourth successive Group 1 victory at the end of last season, his generation – now four-year-olds – have continued to dominate the sprint division this season.
Twilight Son recorded a second Group 1 win earlier this season in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, beating the ill-fated Gold-Fun by a neck in a slightly muddling race. However, back on firmer ground, Twilight Son was disappointing in the July Cup last time, raising suspicions that he is possibly just not as effective on faster ground as he is on ground that is good/good to soft. The pick of his form – including his career-best second to Muhaarar in the Champions Sprint Stakes – has come away from good to firm ground. Either way, he has a little more to prove than some at the top of the market after that poor run.
The winner of the July Cup was Limato – like Twilight Son trained by Henry Candy – who dropped back to sprint distances for the first time since finishing second in last season’s Commonwealth Cup (behind Muhaarar) to produce a career-best effort at Newmarket, a clear-cut victor by two lengths and almost certain to have still won if those in behind him that met trouble had enjoyed a clear run. Though he wasn’t quite at that sort of level from a ratings perspective next time in the Nunthorpe, he enhanced his reputation if anything, losing no caste at all in defeat to a top-class five-furlong specialist in Mecca’s Angel. Topping the Timeform weight-adjusted ratings for the Sprint Cup, he is the one to beat if he turns up, though that will depend on the ground and whether he handles the quickest turnaround between races that he has faced to date.
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