Saturday sees the 51st running of the Sprint Cup being run at Haydock Park, a race that features some of the fastest horses in Europe.
Be Friendly won the initial running of the race in 1966 and there is a statue in his memory right next to the paddock at the Merseyside track.
The Sprint Cup is steeped in history with Champions including classic sprinters such as the late Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s Be Friendly, Danehill and G-Force, and three times winning jockeys Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery and Willie Carson.
Here we take a look at the trends and statistics of the race, not over the past fifty-one years, but over a much more manageable ten year period.
Only two horses aged over five have been victorious in the past 30 years. That is quite an ominous sign for Cougar Mountain and Kimberella.
Fillies and mares are not to be dismissed lightly in this race. Since 2004 they have won three times and placed three times.
7/10 winners had finished in the first three places in a Group One race in their past two runs.
8/10 winners had won at least one sprint race that season prior to running in this race.
9/10 winners had won over 6f or 7f in their careers.
5/10 winners had at least one previous run at Haydock.
Henry Candy (2-1-6) had the race favourite in Limato last year but there is every possibility conditions will conspire against him this time. Candy sent out the winner in both 2010 and 2015.
It would be rather apt if James Fanshawe (1-0-2), also known as “the thin man” could land the race with The Tin Man.
Charlie Hills (0-2-2) was knocking on the door in 2015 when he saddled both the second and third places. This year he has a live contender with Magical Memory.
Seven out of the last ten winners came from a double-figure stall number.
The weather also appears to have a slight bearing on the draw. The two most recent high drawn winners won on ground the easy side of good, whilst the low drawn winners won when the going was firm.
Given that the going on Saturday is predicted to be softening up due to rain being forecast in the area then it may pay to side with a higher drawn horse.
Six of the last ten winners have been priced between 9/1 and 14/1.
Favourites have won three times in the last ten years.
Horses to consider
Connections of Harry Angel are confident he has what it takes to follow up his Darley July Cup success with a win in the Sprint Cup despite the forecast rain meaning the showpiece will be run on a softish surface.
The Clive Cox-trained three-year-old will be seeking to give Godolphin their first success in the race since Diktat triumphed in 1999. Given the amazing week of winners around the globe for the “boys in blue” who would bet against it?
Brando has a length and three-quarters to make up on Harry Angel from the July Cup but his trainer Kevin Ryan is buoyant about his chances.
Ryan's charge has progressed from winning the Ayr Gold Cup last season to collecting the first Group One victory of his career in the Prix Maurice de Gheest last time out.
He shouldn’t mind the ground and always seems to run a big race when fresh which he will be when returning on Saturday.
Another horse likely to enjoy the predicted underfoot conditions is Tasleet.
He was the winner of the Duke Of York at the Dante Meeting before finishing second in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. Those two races however appeared to take their toll and he never figured in the July Cup.
Willy Haggas is sure to have him in tip-top condition after a 56-day break and he has been well supported in the betting.
The Tin Man is on course for another tilt in this race. He worked nicely under Tom Queally this week on The Limekilns, quickening nicely past his lead horse which made for very impressive viewing for the James Fanshawe team.
The five-year-old was an impressive winner in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June but was unable to replicate that form in the July Cup at Newmarket, finishing back down the field in eighth place.
Fanshawe is no stranger to Sprint Cup success sending out Society Rock to glory in the race five years ago.
Another Godolphin-owned runner in the race is the Shamardal colt Blue Point and great things are expected of him too on Saturday afternoon.
Charlie Appleby has given him a well earned break since finishing third behind Caravaggio and Harry Angel in the Commonwealth Cup in June and he looks like he will return to the Merseyside track with all guns blazing.
A drop down in trip and a return to Haydock is expected to bring out the best in Magical Memory according to his team.
Magical Memory was close to winning the Group One Sprint Cup before, failing by just under a length in 2015 when going down to Twilight Son and Strath Burn.
Given the rich vein of form the Godolphin-owned horses are having all over the place at the moment it would come as no surprise to see their two runners fill the first two positions in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
It is very hard to predict which way around they will finish however but the marginal hunch is for Charlie Appleby’s Blue Point.
888sport suggests: Blue Point & Harry Angel (r/fc and singles).