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BIG RACE PREVIEW: The Sprint Cup Stakes is the pick of the action at Haydock this afternoon with Starman the favourite but value is available elsewhere in the market.


Given the unseasonably good to firm ground conditions, connections of Starman must literally be thanking their lucky stars. Their charge needs a relatively firm surface to show his best and this particular race has been run on either soft or heavy ground over the past five years. It has also been run on good to soft or softer ground seven times during the past ten years thus reinforcing the unseasonably dry spell. Based on the 10 year trends the average official rating of the winner comes in at 115 and Starman arrives here with an official rating of 120. He achieved this rating mainly on the back of a devastating performance in the July Cup at Newmarket where he had a number of his rivals here behind him. A repeat of that performance will see him win this.

This assertion will be reflected in his price and he is likely to go off a shade of odds on at best. Therefore where does the potential each-way value lie? If we look at some of the best speed ratings posted by a number of horses in the race then it may provide a few pointers as to which horses may represent decent each-way value. For instance the best speed rating awarded to any of these horses by Racing Preview this season is a figure of 84 awarded to Happy Romance when she won the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury in July. This figure contrasts well with figure of 81 that Starman achieved when winning the July Cup and it suggests that Happy Romance could go well at a decent price. Emaraaty Ana posted a figure of 80 when chasing home the flying Winter Power in the Nunthorpe Stakes over five furlongs at York and the step up to six furlongs here could suit better. He too could go well at an attractive each-way price.

Creative Force has had a fantastic season and it reached its high point when he won the Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs at Royal Ascot in June. He then dropped to six furlongs when finishing fifth behind Starman in the July Cup where he was doing all of his best work in the closing stages. Back up to seven furlongs at Goodwood last time, he ran another screamer when second in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes with his top class stablemate Space Blues two places behind him in fourth place. He remains in great heart but one just has the feeling that six furlongs on good to firm ground may just take him out of his comfort zone and he is overlooked albeit not easily so.

Of the rest Glen Shiel is a consistent Group 1 winner who deserves to take his chance and Art Power looks to be a Group 1 winner waiting to happen. However both horses are demonstrably better in softer ground conditions and it would a bit of a surprise if they were to win here should there be no appreciable rain. The chances of Supremacy would be entirely based on his two-year-old form and it would be something of a shock if anything else could win based on form and ratings.

And so Starman is the obvious suggestion as he is the most obvious winner. However Happy Romance could well outrun her price and Emaraaty Ana could similarly make the frame with forecast ground conditions very much in his favour too.

Suggestion: Starman

Alternatives: Happy Romance/Emaraaty Ana (each-way)

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