Some people need the sunshine to truly feel their best, while others are at the happiest when the rain is falling and the wind is blowing. Are you the former, or the sadomasochistically-minded latter? In that respect, horses are the same as human beings. Some favour the warmth of the sun and nice firm ground, while others are in their element when it is bucketing down and the ground is yielding beneath their hoofs.
Often, this notion of the ‘going’ can make the difference between success and failure in the big races where a well-matched field takes to the turf, and that could well be the case in Saturday’s Group 1 encounter at Haydock Park, the Sprint Cup.
It has been raining fairly consistency in the North West of England all week, and the going is likely to be on the softer side. That has changed the nature of this renewal, and while the short 6f length means that the going is only partly relevant, it does nudge punters in the direction of some horses over others.
Speed King Harry Angel Hampered by the Damp
The fastest horse in the field, the most in-form and the bookmakers’ favourite for the Sprint Cup, Harry’s Angel, would ordinarily look a decent prospect for this renewal at 9/4, but those odds have been drifting with each rain shower – the Clive Cox colt started the week at 5/4.
So there’s lay value to be had for Exchange punters with more rain predicted, and an opportunity for traditional bettors to cast an eye over the rest of the field. But then, on the flipside, is there an opportunity that Harry’s Angel could surprise anybody?
He is certainly a superstar in the making, as victory in the July Cup over Limato and Caravaggio attests, while narrow seconds in the Commonwealth Cup and the Merriebelle Pavilion Stakes continues the narrative.
But those were all on firm ground, and with question marks about his penchant for softer footing this is one favourite the betting community can take on with some relish.
Tasleet Ready for Muddy Battle
One of the few in the field with genuine soft ground for is Tasleet, who took the spoils in the Duke of York Stakes in May on yielding turf ahead of one of his main rivals here, The Tin Man.
He backed up with victory on firmer ground in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, and while he finished dead last in the July Cup the pace that day did not suit him.
Tasleet should be fresh after a minimalist 2016 campaign backed by a light workload this year. The wetter the better as far as his connections are concerned.
Charlie Hills Hoping for Magical Memories at Haydock
The shorter the distance, the leveller the playing field – that’s the old punter’s logic. So a 6f sprint offers opportunities for outsiders to sneak into the places, and of those it is 14/1 Magical Memory that catches the eye.
He’s won two of his last three starts at odds-against, including the Hackwood Stakes in July, and there’s soft going form in the bank too, with a two-length second to Tasleet in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes in May – a renewal he won in 2016.
This is a horse that has finished in the money places in 13/22 starts, and in a contest where there are question marks over the main fancies’ suitability for the conditions, 14/1 looks a lovely price.