Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock

Betfair Haydock Sprint Cup: Runner-by-runner guide to Haydock's Group 1 feature

Haydock runners head on shot.
Daryl Carter runs through the Haydock Sprint Cup field.

The outstanding Group 1 Betfair-sponsored Haydock Sprint Cup takes centre stage on Saturday, and here with a runner-by-runner guide to the main event is Daryl Carter...

  • All runners for the Group 1 Betfair Sprint Cup

  • Stats and Trends

  • Click your horse name to add them to your bet slip on the Betfair Sportsbook

A smashing renewal of the Betfair Sprint Cup in which a maximum field of 17 horses stood their ground after the race initially attracted 23 entries for the £242,000 first prize on Monday.

  • Since 2015, every winner of this race had at least placed first, second or third in a Group 1 contest in the same season in either Britain or France before victory here.
  • Since 2015, no horse rated lower than 114 has won.
  • Twilight Son (104) is the only winner rated lower than 111 in the last ten years.

In 2015, Twilight Son contested a race with all of the season's Group 1 Sprint winners absent, which may explain why he was the only horse with a rating lower than 111 that could win in the last ten years.

Following the same rating and group-placed formula today would reduce the field to the following:

Run To Freedom

Shaquille 4/51.80

When writing, prolific three-year-old Shaquille is set to go off the shortest-priced favourite for this race in the last ten years. Only Starman (Evens) and Harry Angel (6/4) went off close to his short odds, and they were beaten in this contest. Still, his price reflects his dominating performance in landing the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup and July Stakes this season.

Julie Camacho's three-year-old is a winner of seven of his eight career starts, but he doesn't come without quirks. He tends to miss the break, and although that didn't stop him from emphatically winning the competitive Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, it's not a trait punters will be happy with at short odds.

He has also been very free in his races, which is why he has worn a hood in five of his last six starts, but despite these negatives, nothing has been able to live with him yet, including on varying ground conditions from soft to good to firm.

He already has the holding of Kinross, Run To Freedom and Khaadem on their meeting at Newmarket in the July Stakes. Swingalong and Lezoo were well held despite giving themselves a headstart at Ascot.

The form is the most potent bar none in a relatively weak sprinting division, and this race is undoubtedly his to lose, mainly if he breaks on terms.

The concern for backers would be if he misses the break and finds himself behind a wall of horses, but this is typically a fair track where horses will fan out in the closing stages, offering plenty of space for those coming from off the pace.

It's hard to find reasons to get him beat, in all honesty.

Spycatcher 10/111.00

Karl Burke's Spycatcher has been steadily progressive this season, having been dropped to six furlongs and went down narrowly on his latest start in the Arc Prix Maurice de Gheest over 6 1/2f.

That was a career-best effort, but it's well worth noting that the renewal of that race in Deauville was well below the standard in recent years.

He has been placed well by connection on his favoured soft ground, but he will now tackle his most challenging assignment on unfavoured fast ground.

He looks poorly priced.

Sacred 10/111.00

William Haggas' filly Sacred is a talented horse on her day and should be well up to making her presence felt.

On her penultimate start, she was an excellent second to Khaadem at Ascot in the 6f Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes. That was her first attempt at six furlongs since her one-length defeat in the same race last year, having plied her trade over seven since.

She is unexposed as a sprinter, and it's too soon to suggest she can't take a step forward.

However, her brilliant best has come at Newbury (Group 2), and she is yet to win above Group 3 company outside of the venue.

The balance of her form suggests she is held, and she hasn't looked like a genuine sprinter. She is closely matched with Sandrine, so she will need a career-best to land this.

Mill Stream 11/112.00

Mill Stream has been a rapid improver for Jane Chapple-Hyam this season and is a similarly progressive three-year-old to favourite Shaquille. He hasn't had the opportunity to mix it at the top level, having progressed out of handicap company this term, but the fact that connections have supplemented him for this suggests they think he is up to the task.

He arrives on the back of a comfortable French victory in the Group 3 Barriere Prix de Meautry, in which he took the scalp of the reliable but ageing yardstick of Garrus. That form ties in closely with Spycatcher but suggests he needs plenty more here, although that's entirely possible.

He finished ahead of Shaquille in the Acomb at York over seven furlongs last term when priced at 18/5 (Shaquille 11/112.00), so he has always been highly thought of, but it's unwise to take that form literally here.

He is firmly on the upgrade, and while he doesn't quite fit the trends mentioned above for this race, few of these sprinters are progressing, so he makes serious each-way appeal.

Saint Lawrence 12/113.00

Saint Lawrence improved at the first time of asking for his new connections in re-fitted blinkers to land the Wokingham Handicap on fast ground before perhaps finding the surface too taxing when third in the Group 1 Arc Prix Maurice de Gheest.

Still, his two starts for Archie Watson have seen him bounce back to his best, but suggesting he is on the upgrade may be a bit of a stretch given the poor quality of the field in France.

His case must be built on the promise of further improvement for this new yard, having been held in lesser company than this last year when finding a couple of these too good in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury, but he is a solid place contender.

Believing 16/117.00

Believing has been supplemented for this contest on the back of a dominant Listed victory at Pontefract, and she has shown to be reasonably useful throughout her career to date. However, this is an entirely different ball game, and she was no match for Lezoo when they met last year as two-year-olds.

The filly is thriving but must operate from a different stratosphere to land a blow here.

Lezoo 12/113.00

Lezoo looked like an excellent two-year-old when rounding offer her Juvenile season with a Group 1 Cheveley Park victory. Connections tried their hand in the 1,000 Guineas on return over 1m despite never once giving the impression she would stay the trip.

That down-the-field effort clearly left a mark on her, as she cut no mustard when returned to six furlongs in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, but she was drawn on the wing and shaped well without threatening when racing away from the action.

She took a good step back in the right direction when she dropped into Listed company at Newmarket last time for a confidence booster and took the scalp of a solid but ageing sprinter in Emaraaty Anna (2nd in the Betfair Sprint last year). That was an encouraging effort, particularly since the rain came and took the sting out of the ground, which wouldn't have been in her favour.

She will appreciate fast ground today, and she is by no means out of things with a career-best, perhaps inbound.

Regional 12/113.00

Regional has progressed race-by-race this season and arrives on the back of a two-length defeat when fifth in the 5f Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York. That was his first taste of Group 1 action, and he was not disgraced.

He has seen his progression come over the minimum trip with form figures over five furlongs that now read 5112441.

The move up in distance to today's six furlongs has to be the concern. He has won over course and distance, but it came in a Class 5 contest in 2021, and his record is just 1-9 at this trip, and his stamina will be tested.

Backers can take confidence from his unbeaten 2-2 record here at Haydock, but he needs a clear career best at this trip.

Run To Freedom 25/126.00

Run To Freedom has shown improved form since fitted with the cheek-pieces and has now placed in the Group 1 Champion Sprint, scored in Listed company and ran a career-best last time in the July Cup when second to Shaquille, having come from off the pace only to be beaten two lengths.

He is worth forgiving his down-the-field finish in the Jubilee at Royal Ascot, having been slowly away and on the wrong side of the track, so it's not worth judging him harshly on that run.

Today's return to fast ground is a positive, and he is a very strong stayer at this six furlongs, having stayed seven earlier in his career.

He fits all of the above stat and tried criteria and looks overpriced. Expect a big run.

Khaadem 33/134.00

The market continuously underestimates Charles Hills' Khaadem despite winning the prestigious Group 1 Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot.

He didn't get a clear run at things at Newmarket when touched off three lengths by Shaquille, and that form ties in closely with Run To Freedom (2nd) whom he was narrowly behind at Salisbury. The ground went against him at Newmarket, so it was a big effort in the circumstances, given he was stuck for a run behind a wall of horses.

His latest effort at York in the Nunthorpe is easily forgiven, having been outpaced over that fast five furlongs from the get-go. Still, he wasn't disgraced and moving back up in distance and returning to fast ground are undoubtedly positives.

However, it's concerning that he has suffered three heavy defeats at this venue, and despite being a fan of his, the big day may have come and gone.

Swingalong 20/121.00

Swingalong had been well held as a two-year-old by Lezoo in the Cheveley Park Stakes but has taken her form to a new level this season, including an all-the-way win at York last time in the Group 3 Fillies Summer Stakes.

However, despite having a massive advantage with a fast break and dictating the Commonwealth Cup field at Royal Ascot, she fell victim to Shaquille, and it would be remarkable if she could turn that form around given the circumstances of that race.

The Antarctic 33/134.00

He is the only representative of the Ballydoyle contingent and has hardly set the world alight since showing promise at two over the minimum trip.

He was last seen being tried over seven furlongs in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot with connections seemingly unknown about his correct trip. His ceiling seems to have been reached, and he would be a surprise winner.

Shouldvebeenaring 40/141.00

One of two for trainer Richard Hannon and did run exceptionally well here in the Sandy Lane Stakes to finish second to Little Big Bear (absent) with Mill Stream behind, so there is justification to suggest he is overpriced.

However, he has been highly tried, and although it's easy to forgive his latest run at Newmarket, he has bundles to find at Group 1 level.

Rohaan 25/126.00

Rohaan has been highly tried this season but hasn't shown the same spark thus far, and while it was another encouraging run at Newcastle last time over an inadequate distance of five furlongs, he doesn't look the force of old.

The move back up in distance and returning to Group 1 company should see him in a better light with the pace they will likely go today. However, he needs that pace to collapse, and things must fall perfectly for win purposes.


Garrus 40/141.00

The highlight of his past 12 months has been a third in the Group 1 Arc Prix Maurice de Gheest, but he has fallen victim to improvers the last twice, and he is out of his depth at Group 1 level.

Happy Romance 66/167.00

Richard Hannon's five-year-old mare has placed fourth and fifth in this race in the last two years, and the move back up to six furlongs is a positive, having plied her trade over the minimum trip for much of this season.

However, she has not looked the force of old with declining RPRs this season, and she is an unlikely winner.

Annaf 66/167.00

Michael Appleby's charge looks a little stuck between trips - running on over five furlongs and not quite seeing out the six. He has been highly tried, and it is no easy task to try and claim a first Group win at this level.

Rumstar 66/167.00

He unseated his rider at Goodwood following a good run at Newbury in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes and was only beaten two lengths in the Commonwealth Cup. However, Shaquille was well on top at Ascot, but he does have a lightly raced profile over six furlongs on fast ground. He could outrun his odds.

The Verdict

Despite his quirks, it's challenging to find fault with the impressive and progressive Shaquille, who has looked like this season's top sprinter. The only defeat of his career came in the York Acomb Stakes as a two-year-old over seven furlongs, and while he is yet to taste the Haydock turf, he is a powerful three-year-old who can do things in many ways. There's no doubt he is top-class, evident by being able to lose so much ground in the Commonwealth Cup and still take care of a useful array of rivals.

Run To Freedom could be the each-way play at the prices, having done little wrong this term and leaving the impression that there is a more significant performance in him. However, his only effort here was disappointing, but that may have been down to being his first run of the season.

Mill Stream will be in the thick of the action, and if Shaquille is to fluff his lines, then this three-year-old will lead the line ahead of Lezoo for the three-year-olds.

  1. Shaquille
  2. Run To Freedom
  3. Mill Stream
  4. Lezoo


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.