Ante-Post Value – The Betfred Sprint Cup
Not many suitable ante-post races are available at the moment so we’ll have to take an early look at the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup, run over 6f at Haydock on Saturday week (6th of September). It doesn’t look like a vintage renewal by any means, especially with Slade Power a huge doubt to run thanks to the same skin infection that nearly ruled stablemate Sole Power out of the Nunthorpe.
In his likely absence, Aidan O’Brien’s Due Diligence is heading the market and I’ve got a lot of time for the 3-year-old having tipped him to win the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. He ran the race of his life on that occasion, finishing second behind Slade Power despite racing on the wrong part of the track and meeting trouble, so it would be hard to say that he’s not a true top-level performer.
Given his age and lack of experience (only has four starts to his name since joining this yard), the possibility that he has further improvement in the locker is there. Connections giving him time to get over such a hard race at Ascot is wise (albeit not by design; was pulled out of the July Cup) and he should be arriving as a fresh horse. My issue, however, is the possibility of softer ground being in place at Haydock. It would not suit (faster is better) and I couldn’t go near him at 4/1.
Last year’s winner of this race, Gordon Lord Byron, is next up at 6/1 and he looked to be coming back to something like his best when beaten a nose at the Curragh last week. He was beaten by Jamesie, which isn’t a great sign in normal circumstances, but conceding 7lbs to that rival made the task a lot more difficult and trainer Tom Hogan had warned everyone that his charge would need the outing in order to reach peak fitness. Added to that, the race didn’t really pan out from a pace point of view and he’s better on a flat track, so there’s no shortage of reasons to suggest that better can be expected, rather than hoped for. Whether he’s value at the current prices is the problem and my judgement says no.
Music Master is the one that punters have been keen on at this early stage, with Henry Candy’s often smooth-travelling 4-year-old halving in price from 16/1 in recent times. That’s no big shock as he is a could-be-anything sort in the sprinting division and there was plenty to like about his Group 3 win at Newbury in July. A flat track suits him best and he will handle a certain amount of cut in the ground, so there are probably less vices with him than most. I’ve missed the boat to a point with regard to his price, but I think that he’s a really interesting contender for a yard who are in great order and in a race that I’m finding difficult to call, he’ll do! He genuinely strikes me as the sort to make up into a top-level sprinter.
Selection for the Betfred Sprint Cup (3:50 Haydock; Saturday, 6th September):
Music Master – 8/1, available generally.
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