TOMORROW’S Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park (3.35pm) is the final top quality sprint race of the UK flat season and last week it looked as if it would be run on bottomless ground. The weather has since improved and come tomorrow afternoon conditions should be absolutely perfect.
David Nicholls is normally associated with his handicappers, but REGAL PARADE is easily the best horse in his yard and is a genuine Group 1 performer. He won this race last year and will be aiming to become only the second horse to win it twice. His entire season – which has included wins in the Group 3 Shadwell Stakes and the Group 1 Prix Maurice De Gheest – has been targeted around this race and the same cannot be said of his rivals.
Starspangledbanner ran a great race in defeat in the Nunthorpe at York and would surely have won in another half furlong. If he had won that race, he’d be coming here in search of an historic four-timer, but this race has surely been something of an afterthought for Aidan O’Brien. The four-year-old has been on the go since May and has had a number of tough races.
Borderlescott, who runs well on the track, has had injury problems and Kingsgate Native, although having the talent to win this, is always hard to catch right. The majority of the rest of the field look fairly exposed, but I would give an each-way squeak to last week’s Newmarket winner Doncaster Rover at 25/1 with Paddy Power. This is a huge step up in class, but now he has found his form he definitely has place possibilities.
The only worry for Regal Parade fans is that he is better when he gets his toe-in and the problem with writing this column 48 hours in advance is that we don’t know what the ground will be. As long as it’s no quicker than good I will be backing him at 3/1 with Paddy Power.
The meeting’s big handicap is the Old Borough Cup at 3.05pm. Mark Johnston has won three of the last six renewals and he saddles three this year, the pick of which looks to be Lady Eclair. I’d find it very hard to split her and Red Cadeaux from their Chester run a fortnight ago and am more interested in the progressive KANSAI SPIRIT. John Gosden’s yard continues to fire on all cylinders and this son of Sinndar looked like he would appreciate the step up to 1m6f when he won impressively at Newbury last time.
RIP VAN WINKLE will start a short-priced favourite in tomorrow’s Irish Champions Stakes, but I fully expect him to win before having another crack at the Breeders’ Cup.
KANSAI SPIRIT 3.05pm Haydock (tomorrow)
REGAL PARADE 3.35pm Haydock (tomorrow)
RIP VAN WINKLE 3.45pm Leopardstown (tomorrow)a