The north wests principle flat meeting of the whole year came around once again as the stars of the sprinting game turned out for the 2014 running of the Betfred Sprint Cup which was the final Group One of the sprinting division of the season.
Today was also the midway section of a busy five days of sport in this neck of the woods as the afternoon culminated in the third day of this festival which changes from four hooves to two wheels on Sunday as the first two legs of cycling’s Tour Of Britain kickstarts down the A580 in Liverpool for the first two stages.
Before the horses took to the turf we had four athletics events over 600m on the road inside the course which consisted mainly of match races between younger north west based athletes who are at the beginning of their fledgling careers.
The races were won by Nzimah Akpam from Toxteth who is the Merseyside 400m champion,he saw the trip out well, Tom Clarke an 800m runner who didn’t seem inconvenienced by the drop in trip, James McNally another 800m specialist and finally the finish of the day which saw 20yo Jamie Webb who is an outdoor 800m athlete just get the better of rival John Ashcroft and he is said to better over 1500m and was also a 5000m finalist in the British Universities races.
A nice initiative and one which seemed to work,certainly the infield at Aintree would be better at staging road races and could be a good idea for the future.
Below,Jamie Webb just hangs on.
2.05 The Betfred Mobile Be Friendly Handicap,Class 2,5f,3yo+ (0-100)
A typical renewal of the race that celebrates the horse who won the inaugural Sprint Cup.
Kickboxer bounced back to form after a recent poor spell,a winner at Leicester and Ripon this season it did look like the handicapper had him but the drop down to 5f didn’t bother him and he ran out a ready winner,Long Awaited traveled well and just got tapped for speed when asked but eventually came runner up and just got the better of Normal Equilibrium, back in fourth was the popular 12yo Borderlescott who ran his best race for a long time.
Kickboxer was first off the bridle but responded to Luke Morris’ urgings, not sure if he’s entered in races like the Portland or the various Ayr Cups but going here of 93 he should go to just between 97-100 after this.
2.40 The betfred.com Superior Mile,Group 3,1m,3yo+.
This was a case of the salute the cat as favourite Captain Cat under the steering of George Baker docked into bay number one as he travelled well from the outset sitting behind the early pace set by Penitnent.
Captain Cat took over with just over a furlong to go and had plenty in hand over the rest,Balty Boys who has been seen quite a bit by me this season ran on to just get second place ahead of the Lincoln winner Ocean Tempest.
The winner may head to Newmarket for the Joel Stakes, he is a lovely miler at home on turf or sand and never seems to run a bad race.
Balty Boys ran a PB for the season and it did look like Penitent has had enough for the season and at eight maybe it’s time he was given an honourable retirement.
3.15 The Betfred TV Old Borough Cup Handicap,Class 2,1m6f,3yo+ (0-105)
As usual a wide open looking renewal and oddly none of the sixteen runner field had ran in the Ebor last time out.
Right as the gates opened we had a bit of drama as top weight and favourite Havana Cooler deposited jockey Richard Hughes on the deck but he soon followed his friends and was safely caught at the finish.
The step up in trip proved no problem for the John Gosden trained Nautilus who came from out of the pack and got the better of likely winner Epsom Hill by a length under an inspired drive by Nicky Mackay, Communicator was staying on up the inside but still needs dropping in the ratings, Glenard who made most of the running is a lot better back at 1m4f, he doesn’t stay this trip.
Nautilus stayed the extra distance really well,Their might not be many opportunities for him this season after this but maybe something like the Ormonde or Yorkshire Cup next year could suit unless a trip to Dubai is on the agenda.
3.50 The Betfred Sprint Cup,Group 1,6f,3yo+
A real high class renewal of this famous sprint which featured winners from the big festivals in the division for the speedsters.
All the talk was about 5f superstar Sole Power and wether or not he could break his 6f hoodoo at the eighth time of asking.
Again it was not to be today as he came a very honourable fourth behind some real 6f specialists down the Haydock turf.
Trainer David O’Meara who many including myself remember him riding various Sue Smith chasers around here over the winters scored his first ever Group One winner as a trainer as 3yo G Force became the first three year old since African Rose in 2008 albeit in a rescheduled running at Doncaster to land the prize under Danny Tudhope, held up in the pack early doors he found a lovely gap with a furlong to go and was able to pick his hooves up and just go the better of last seasons winner Gordon Lord Byron who looked set to land back to back renewals had it not been for this very plucky three year old.
Music Master was third,he came here off the back of a Newbury win in July and was fourth in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot,Group 3 is about his level, Sole Power was fourth and traveled well to get the trip but they extra furlong just finds him out, Expect normal business to be resumed come Prix De L’Abbaye at Longchamp next month.
Of the beaten horses Baccarat probably found this a bit too tough but was only beaten around eight lengths,Es Que Love was sixth but he is better at 7f,Astaire has struggled this season and has not been able to replicate his second in the Duke Of York back in May and lastly Cougar Mountain from Ballydoyle could be better off going up on trip.
As for G Force this was a fantastic performance,it’s more than likely he will head off to Ascot to become Champion Sprinter and take in the big sprints after the winter.
4.25 The Betfred Goals Galore Nursery Handicap,Class 2,6f,2yo.
After being comprehensively walloped in the Gimcrack last month it was back to form for the Kevin Ryan trained Teruntum Star who had won a Carlisle maiden in July, travelling pretty well he drew away in the last half furlong and had a nice 3.25 length lead over runner up Inniscastle Lad who looked far happier back sprinting today.
Favourite Roossey was third,he was simply beaten by better horses on the day but did keep up to his work.
5.00 The Betfred Fun And Friendly Stakes,(Asscendant Stakes),Listed,1m,2yo
Only five here for this Black Type event and it was a pattern winner for trainer Sir Mark Prescott with the very talented but very quirky and at sometimes loopy Celestial Path on his second start at the racecourse.
Holding entries in the Racing Post Trophy and Derby it’s clear to see why as he dug deep despite a slow start and having to be ridden along to get into contention he gave Medrano a four length whacking here who in turn was 3.5 lengths ahead of Smaih in third who didn’t look to get the extra trip.
Celestial Path as I mentioned is a bit quirky and if he carries on then he may wake up noticing a couple of things missing,I would expect either the Racing Post Trophy or Royal Lodge to be the next race unless he is now given time to mature in the winter.
5.35 The Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap,Class 2,1m6f,3yo,(0-100)
A very competitive long distance finale here for the young staying brigade and it was jockey Adam Kirby who timed it to perfection on Mizzou for Luca Cumani to record his third win on what was his fourth career race, already a winner at Pontefract and Doncaster this season he went in easily here in the end of a mark of 89 and beat Intense Tango by 1.75 lengths.
The runner up was looking to follow a recent course win last month over 12f,she ran another solid race and is still in good heart although a drop back to that trip could be better for her,Spectator finished third and had Kashmiri Sunset behind him.
Another Sprint Cup day has been and gone then for 2014 and from here it looks like I shall be concentrating on the jumpers albeit with the odd other sport thrown in.
Today’s Cup was the best quality one seen for a long time and it will be interesting to see how the form works out as the season gears up for the big autumn finales at the various festivals.
Danny Tudhope and David O’Meara have had days they will never forget, it’s always great to see the trainers and jockeys who might not yet be considered household names get on the scoresheet in the big races at this level.
I shall be at Market Rasen in three weeks time and will probably get to a non league game in the interim.
Till then a very goodbye from me and for the 2014 turf flat season.