Music Master poised to clinch Sprint Cup title.
One horse stands out on form for the Sprint Cup at Haydock, but while it’s been Sole Power’s year in the sprinting division, he is something of a 5f specialist, and is somewhat surprisingly seeking a first-ever win at the furlong longer trip this weekend.
A look at his record shows that most of his previous tries came as a youngster when not the force he is now, and he has been given too much to do, either by tactics designed to help him stay, or because of a poor draw, on the two occasions he’s tackled the distance since the start of 2013.
The latter effort was a creditable one in the July Cup, when he lost more ground crossing over behind the pacemakers than he was eventually beaten. On that basis, it would be churlish to suggest that Eddie Lynam’s charge is unsuited by 6f, but the one chink in his armour is perhaps that his potent turn of foot is best deployed off a ferocious gallop, such as is characterised in races run over the minimum trip.
The tempo of longer sprints isn’t always conducive to such tactics, and Saturday’s contest isn’t exactly replete with pace, with Astaire appearing the most likely front runner, but arguably not good enough to carry that through.
Gordon Lord Byron is next on official ratings, having won this contest last year, and he appears unlucky that the usual soft ground which pertains to Haydock in the autumn is not in evidence.
There’s little doubt that Tom Hogan’s star is capable of high-class form on a sound surface, but softer ground is definitely ideal, and he’s opposable as a consequence. If the top pair look vulnerable due to trip and ground, then the race has a very open feel to it, and it has a history of throwing up somewhat surprising results coming at the time of year it does.
Tropics has bounced back to form on his last two starts, proving his 66/1 second in the July Cup was no fluke when scoring impressively in listed company at the same venue last time. He doesn’t have much to find with the very best of these, and the fact that he arrives in top form is clearly a big plus.
One horse who certainly won’t be jaded by a strenuous campaign is Music Master, who has been a revelation since dropped to sprinting this year, faring well from what turned out a tricky draw in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot before a comfortable win in a Group 3 at Newbury despite being checked in his run at a crucial time.
It looked at one stage that Henry Candy’s star might compromise himself by failing to ration his speed effectively, but a switch to more patient tactics in recent starts has paid off, and he looks more or less the finished article now.
It’s long been our view that he’d be an ideal type for the Prix de L’Abbaye at Longchamp in October, and while we still see that race as the perfect target, I can see him proving his credentials at the top level by winning here first.
Baccarat comes here having been rested since landing the Wokingham at the Royal Meeting, and is still on the up, so may do best of the outsiders, but on balance has a little to prove against proven pattern performers.
The BetBright Verdict
Win selection: Music Master @ 15/2
Each-way alternative: Tropics @ 8/1
The Race is off at 15.50 tomorrow at Haydock Park.