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Horse racing: Alex Hammond previews the weekend action

Features - Alex Hammond Posted 4th September 2014 view comments

We have a great weekend of racing to look forward to with Haydock’s Betfred Sprint Cup the domestic feature.

A maximum field of 17 have been declared with one reserve.

Sole Power has been well supported this week for the six furlong Group One and he has been declared despite some doubt over the suitability of the race day surface.

Music Master is Alex's fancy for the Sprint Cup

Music Master is Alex's fancy for the Sprint Cup

It was good on the straight course on Thursday when declarations were made, but there is still a chance for it to dry out sufficiently. He’s exceptional, but I would rather and wait to see if the ground is on the fast side if you fancy this year’s King’s Stand and Nunthorpe winner. 

Another question mark is his ability over Saturday’s trip, although connections don’t seem too worried. All ten of Sole Power’s wins have come over the minimum trip and that is a worry for me although he has one very useful bit of form over the trip in Hong Kong last December.  

He will be partnered by Richard Hughes once again and he certainly seems to suit the six year old as his ice cool riding at York showed. I just think over this trip and at the likely prices he is worth opposing.

Last year’s winner, Gordon Lord Byron, appeals although he has been drawn on the outside which isn’t hugely helpful. He will be ridden by Wayne Lordan who has been on board six times in the past and won on him on three of those occasions, finishing second on the other three starts.

Henry Candy is a trainer who handles his sprinters well and he saddles two; Music Master and Dinkum Diamond.

The former is an improving sprinter who has stepped up with each run this season. He was only having his tenth career start when running in the Diamond Jubilee where he ran a pleasing race to finish fourth and he followed that up with a win in Group Three company at Newbury last time out.

There could be much more to come over this six furlong trip and I like him. His other runner looks to have work to do to trouble the protagonists. 

Tropics is drawn next to Music Master in 12. He was a 66/1 2nd to Slade Power in the July Cup on his penultimate start for trainer Dean Ivory and won in Listed company last time out.

If the ground is right for Sole Power, it won’t be right for him as he doesn’t want it too fast. He handles a faster surface, but in this grade would need a bit of dig.

G Force is another improving sprinter and his trainer David O’Meara has been amongst the winners this week. He is one of the most inexperienced in the field with just the seven runs. He gets a couple of pounds weight allowance from his elders and he is potentially a very smart sprinter.

He didn’t get the clearest of runs in the Nunthorpe, but stayed on in good fashion. He has his first try at this six furlong trip, but there is no reason to think it won’t suit.

Extortionist is another of the three-year-olds, this one represents Ollie Stevens. With Ryan Moore in action at Ascot on Saturday Pat Smullen comes in for the ride. He has been running well in top company this term and was third in the Nunthorpe, like G Force he didn’t get the clearest of runs.

He has stamina to prove over this trip although Ryan Moore felt it was time to step him up in trip after that last outing at York.

Aidan O’Brien sends Cougar Mountain over and this is another of the improving horses from the three year old division. He has had just three runs and two of those have come in Group One company.

Hot Streak has seen the back of the ‘Power’ horses on his last three starts and prior to that he got the better of Pearl Secret who got his head back in front in the Beverley Bullet last time out.

I’ve mentioned Baccarat on this blog before and Richard Fahey’s improving sprinter takes the step out of Handicap Company for the first time. He deserves the step up in class having won the Wokingham in good style on his last run. He is held in high regard and it wouldn’t be a total shock to see him run well at a decent price.

Es Que Love is another horse that has earned his place in the line up for trainer Clive Cox. He claimed the scalp of Toormore over seven furlongs at Goodwood last time out and whilst he is talented he doesn’t win that often and has had plenty of chances.

The favourite aside I like the look of Henry Candy’s Music Master and the David O’Meara trained G Force. It really is the toss of a coin, but I think Music Master just edges it for me.

The Betfred TV Old Borough Cup is the other highlight on Haydock’s card.

Agonisingly Havana Cooler missed the cut when fancied for the Ebor and Luca Cumani’s four-year-old has top weight to carry here; Richard Hughes rides.

His recent form has been franked after the horse that just beat him at Goodwood, Van Percy, finished second in the York Handicap, so the form is top drawer.

Epsom Hill has just scraped in for Charlie Fellowes and is bidding for a hat trick. He has to continue to improve to defy the handicapper. The penny seems to have finally dropped for Glenard who has been helped by the fitting of a hood. He won at York last time out having raced up front and he is a scopey sort who can continue to improve. 

Clive Cox’s Hassle ran well when not given a great chance to get into things in the Shergar Cup last time out. Quest for More is another good ride for Pat Smullen, this time for Roger Charlton. He should be suited to this 1m 6f trip having been a bit keen over 2 miles last time out.

Big Thunder is one to consider at a bigger price. Sir Mark Prescott’s 4 year old is yet to sparkle in four starts this season, but as a result has dropped to a mark just 1lb higher than his last winning mark. He also won over this course and distance almost a year ago.

I can’t get away from the favourite unfortunately as his form is rock solid and trainer Luca Cumani has his team firing on all cylinders. Big Thunder has a good chance of running into a place if recapturing his best form off his sliding mark.

Staying at Haydock and the Betfred.com Superior Mile looks an interesting little contest. There are only seven declared for this Group Three but more than half the field could feasibly win it.

Captain Cat doesn’t have the most orthodox racing style as he gallops in a slightly awkward fashion with his head stuck out. He seems game enough though and he’s a horse I like a lot.

James Doyle held his hands up and admitted he had given the horse too much to do at Goodwood last time out and I hope there’s a decent gallop here to aid Saturday’s jockey George Baker’s cause. Captain Cat has to carry a 4lb penalty for his win in the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury on his penultimate start which makes life more difficult though. Outsider Penitent is the other penalised runner in the field.

Short Squeeze is a recent winner for us on the blog when landing a valuable handicap at the Ebor meeting last time out. Pat Smullen gave him an inspired ride that day and he retains the ride. He deserves the step up in grade and he’s the one I like here. 

Ocean Tempest is having a great season having won the Lincoln, two listed races and again back in Handicap Company at Chester last time out. He is in the Cambridgeshire. Brendan Brackan holds some smart entries for Ger Lyons. He seemed a bit below par in this class in Ireland last time behind British raider Custom Cut.

Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes team up with Emell who had Captain Cat in behind at Goodwood in that Celebration Mile but given different circumstances the finishing positions may have been different.

I like Captain Cat, but the penalty may anchor him so Short Squeeze gets the vote.

Selections:

Music Master in the Betfred Sprint Cup @ 15/2 with Sky Bet

Havana Cooler in the Betfred TV Old Borough Cup @ 4/1 with Sky Bet

Big Thunder in the Betfred TV Old Borough Cup @ 16/1 with Sky Bet (each way)

Short Squeeze in the Betfred.com Superior Mile

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