Starman tipped to shine brightest in Sprint Cup Showdown

HAYDOCK’S biggest race of the year, the Sprint Cup, is gearing up to be a high-class affair with Starman installed as the firm favourite to claim the £162K first prize. Some horse racing sites in the UK will offer good prices, odds and offers ahead of this event.

The Group One is a six-furlong test for the speedsters of Britain and Ireland, and has been in the grip of the English over recent years, with trainer Ed Walker keen to maintain that record with his four-year-old Darley July Cup winner.

Starman leads the betting despite following up his Newmarket success with defeat at Deauville, the trainer insisting he lost nothing in his third-placed finish in the Prix Maurice de Gheest.

Owner David Ward was keen to send him over the Channel in search of a second Group One, but the son of Dutch Art found both the conditions at the French track and the extra half a furlong not in his favour. BBC Sport

But Walker believes he will come on for the run despite registering a second defeat in seven career races, with the Sprint Cup still firmly in his sights.

“I’m very proud of him. He ran a massive race and was very brave. He’s genuine and talented and the ground just blunted his speed and put more of an emphasis on stamina,” said the Upper Lambourn trainer, who claimed his own first Group One success with Starman’s Darley July Cup victory at Newmarket.

“He was beaten by a couple of horses that have got very good form over further. I think he lost nothing in defeat and credit to David Ward for being brave enough to give it a shot.”

There’ll be stiff competition when he heads to Merseyside in September, with long-time rivals Dragon Symbol and Glen Shiel also near the top of the betting. Dragon Symbol was just over a length behind Starman in the Darley July Cup and despite Glen Shiel being down the field at Newmarket and at Deauville, the seven-year-old did inflict his only defeat on home shores in the QIPCO British Champion Spring Stakes at Ascot last year.

That reverse at Ascot, however, was in soft conditions, and Starman was taken out of the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot on account of the testing surface, with both owner and trainer having their fingers crossed for drying weather in the build up to Haydock, reports History of Sport.

The Sprint Cup trends point to the likes of Starman (9/2), Dragon Symbol (13/2) or Glen Shiel (9/1) being successful, with six of the last eight winners having been in the first three in the betting, and three of the last five favourites triumphing.

Further down the betting brings in the Irish contenders who will be targeting the Haydock showdown despite their distinctive lack of success in the race over recent years. The likes of Gustavus Weston and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Battleground will be hoping to mimic Gordon Lord Byron’s win in 2013 – the Tom Hogan-trained five-year-old beat Slade Power into second for an Irish one-two, the only success for the Irish in the race for almost 50 years.

There’s solid support for Gustavus Weston, who is currently trading at around 12/1, and Tipperary trainer Joe Murphy sends the horse over in great form following the most impressive win of his career under his belt – a front-running success under Gary Carroll in the Group 3 Rathasker Stud Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh.

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