Sole Power, winner of both the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, heads a 17-strong field for Saturday’s Betfred Sprint Cup (3.50pm, Haydock). Sole Power (7/2) is unbeaten over 5 furlongs this season and his finishing efforts at Ascot, in particular, and at York suggest that an extra furlong should be well within his compass.
However, all six attempts beyond the minimum trip, including in this race three seasons ago, have ended in defeat, so he may be worth taking on this time. That said, he is the highest rated horse in the race, should have underfoot conditions to suit and once again has the assistance of Richard Hughes (pictured), so commands maximum respect.
Last year’s winner Gordon Lord Byron (5/1) is a versatile sort, having won at the highest level from six furlongs to a mile.
However, all three of those wins came on good to soft or softer going so, with the weather in the North West apparently set fair for the rest of the week, he may find underfoot conditions faster than ideal. Nevertheless, he proved his well-being with a narrow defeat in the Group 3 Renaissance Stakes, over 6 furlongs on good going at the Curragh two weeks ago, so is by no means a forlorn hope.
Music Master (8/1) appears to have improved for a change of tactics on his last two starts, finishing fourth beaten 2¾ lengths behind Slade Power in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and confirming that promise when running on strongly to win the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury seven weeks ago.
An absence of 49 days is a slight worry, but the Ascot form entitles him to beat Gordon Lord Byron, Tropics and Es Que Love. He did beat Es Que Love, albeit by just a neck and a short head, again at Newbury. His three career wins have all come on the prevailing good going so, if he continues his progress, he could well be in the shake-up.
Owner and trainer Dean Ivory has high hopes for his Tropics (9/1), who was a 66/1 second to Slade Power in the July Cup. He has since won a listed race and does appear to be in the form of his life right now. Maybe a place is the best he can hope for in the competitive Group 1.
At longer odds, Es Que Love (currently biggest at 20/1) is an interesting contender and connections have decided to supplement him for the race at a cost of £15,600. They could have run him in the Park Stakes over seven furlongs at Doncaster, in which he would have to carry a 4lb penalty.
The son of Clodovil has very little to find with Music Master on their running at Newbury and subsequently won the Group 2 Lennox Stakes, over seven furlongs, at Goodwood. While he does have a few pounds to find with the likes of Sole Power and Gordon Lord Byron on official ratings, he looks cracking value at the odds on offer.