Tony Calvin: A look ahead to the Sprint Cup, St Leger and Arc

The ground at Haydock could go against the market leaders
The ground at Haydock could go against the market leaders

Fresh from tipping up the Ebor winner at 16.015/1 on Saturday, Tony Calvin returns with a look ahead to some of the key ante post markets including a big-price fancy in the Haydock Sprint Cup...

"He was then the ante-post plunge horse in the Stewards' Cup - he was 40/1 on Monday morning and 7/1 at the off - when running a stormer to finish a length fourth off a mark of 109. And I actually think he may have won with stronger handling than his 7lb claimer was able to provide that day."

As is often the case the weekend after a big meeting, this Saturday's ante-post fare is not the most enticing.

Sure, we have a couple of Group 3's at Sandown, a Listed race at Chester and the Beverley Bullet - plus a few decent handicaps at each of those three meetings, which means six races have been priced up as I write - but certainly nothing to set the pulse racing.

The absence of definitive running plans on these lesser weekends makes recommending a bet tricky.

And, as punters are increasingly finding these days, the generous prices and each-way terms available come Friday evening and Saturday morning - allied to the annoyance of not getting a run for your money by backing an ante-post non-runner - often make a watching brief a wise course of action in these circumstances.

Unless you have a strong opinion, or have spotted a big enough rick to step in early. But it won't surprise you to learn that I haven't.

So let's look further down the line at a few races, starting with the Sprint Cup at Haydock a week on Saturday.


Growl can roar home at Haydock


Harry Angel heads the market at 11/8 on the Betfair Sportsbook for this 6f Group 1 contest - and he isn't much bigger at 2.526/4 on the exchange - and it is hard to argue with those prices after his July Cup defeat of Limato and Brando. He also has a very impressive course-and-distance win to his name, too.

But conditions could be very different at Haydock - as anyone who was at the meeting last year will testify to, as it started raining in the morning and didn't stop all day, with the ground turning soft - and I suppose that possibility is a worry for those backing the favourite, who is unproven on anything worse than good to soft.

There are no such concerns for Brando, third at Newmarket and winner of the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last time, and Diamond Jubilee winner The Tin Man handled soft okay when runner-up in this race last year.

Who knows what the weather will be like in 11 days time - forecasters struggle to get it right 11 hours in advance - but the fact that it could be one of the better renewals is clear, though it remains to be seen whether the likes of Tasleet, Blue Point, Magical Memory, Limato, or even Caravaggio or last year's winner Quiet Reflection, also rock up.

If you wanted to take a complete flier at this stage then Growl at 66/1 each way with the Betfair Sportsbook - he is 70.069/1 win-only on the exchange - could well fit the bill.

He split The Tin Man and Brando when a length second in the Group 1 British Champions Sprint at Ascot last season, and finished under 3 lengths behind Harry Angel in the July Cup when coming from off the pace.

He was then the ante-post plunge horse in the Stewards' Cup - he was 40/1 on Monday morning and 7/1 at the off - when running a stormer to finish a length fourth off a mark of 109. And I actually think he may have won with stronger handling than his 7lb claimer was able to provide that day. That may be harsh but that is how I felt at the time, and also watching the race replay again this morning.

He then went off 5/1 favourite for the Great St Wilfrid 10 days ago, but you can ignore that run - well, not ignore, but forgive perhaps - as he didn't get any daylight until too late.

I am not sure if the plan is to run him at Haydock - connections may decide to keep him fresh for another tilt at the Ayr Gold Cup a fortnight later, the race in which he finished second last year - but I think 66/1 would be massive if he did.

He can handle anything that the weather throws at him, being equally at home on fast or soft ground, and owner Dr Marwan Koukash is a local man, so he may be tempted to go down the Group 1 route for the fifth time. After all, he could easily do the Haydock-Ayr double too, as some of his better efforts (i.e. that Ascot Group 1 second) have come after just a fortnight between his races.

On balance, I recommend backing him at 66/1 each-way.

We may not get a run for our money - I could have contacted his trainer and asked him, but I was loathe to do so, so far in advance of the race and put him on the spot, so apologies in advance if he doesn't run - but I think the risk is worth the potential reward at the price.


Opposition to star filly looks pretty thin


Further ahead, the St Leger, picture at Doncaster on September 16th is still a bit murky.

I would expect Crystal Ocean to be nearer a 3.55/2 chance, than his current odds of 4.77/2, if and when he is confirmed for the race, even though there has been some money around for Irish Derby winner Capri in recent days, and of course Defoe is progressive, as is Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius.

This is a race I can easily leave alone for now, especially as the likes of Raheen House and Rekindling are also players if getting the green light to head to Donny.

Many people think runaway Voltigeur winner Cracksman should be aimed at the staying Classic but, if he goes anywhere, it looks like all roads may lead to the Arc, where he will have to try and handle the Yorkshire Oaks winner Enable, who dominates the market at 2.1411/10.

I don't think you can really have a beef with the price about the star filly, even if the race is over a month away, as the opposition looks pretty thin. In fact, it is 15.014/1 bar the favourite, which brings in Eminent and Japanese 4yo Satono Diamond.


Recommended Bet

Back Growl at 66/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook in Haydock Sprint Cup (ante-post) on September 9th.

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