Sprint Cup Betting

Established in 1966, the Sprint Cup is a Group 1 flat horse race conducted at Haydock Park in Merseyside, Northwest England. Over the years, it was open to juveniles from time to time, but since 1994 the race has been limited to Thoroughbred entries aged three years old and up. The distance covered is six furlongs (1,207 metres), and the race takes place each year in early September.

Credit for conceiving of this particular sprint event goes to racehorse owner and breeder Robert Sangster, who was heir to the Vernons Pools business. His company sponsored the Sprint Cup during its formative years, but william hill bookmakers took over for a time, and currently the primary sponsor is betfred.

A Potent Past

To say the Sprint Cup at Haydock has a “rich and varied history” is a bit of an understatement. The first two meetings were won by Be Friendly, trained by the great Cyril Mitchell. In 1968, Be Friendly was favoured for the hat trick, but fog ruined the day and no race was held that year. The Thoroughbred went on to many more victories, including the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Prix de l`Abbaye, and he sired the winners of 325 races worldwide.

Lester Piggott was the first jockey to win the Sprint Cup three times, riding Green God to victory in 1971, Abergwaun in 1972, and Moorestyle in 1980. Three other riders would equal that feat: Pat Eddery between 1976 and 1989, Willie Carson in 1977~1990, and Bruce Raymond during the period 1981~1992.

Owner Sheik Mohammed has brought several Sprint Cup winners from his stables to the track, notably Ajdal in 1987, Wolfhound in 1993, Cherokee Rose in 1995, and Goodricke in 2005. Similarly, British Flat-Racing Champion trainer John Dunlop delivered four first-place finishers: Runnett in 1981, Habibti in 1983, Lavinia Fontana in 1994, and Invincible Spirit in 2002.

It took two decades for Sangster to realize his ambition of owning a Sprint Cup victor. That moment came in 1985, when Orojova carried the Vernons colours around the oval course to the finish line—the last time the sprint would have bends, as it switched over to the current six-furlong straight course the very next year. In 1988, the Sprint Cup was awarded its Group 1 status.

Racing at Haydock

Managed by the managed by the Jockey Club, Haydock Park is often described as being “conveniently situated at equal distances from both Manchester and Liverpool.” Despite its close proximity to industry, the course is set amid woodlands and tree-lined avenues, offering a park-like atmosphere. Racing in the vicinity dates back to 1752.

This is certainly one of the most used racecourses in the country, featuring 32 race days a year and including both flat racing and jumps. It offers fans a choice of four grandstands and 33 private viewing suites, along with restaurants, bars, and first-class conference facilities.

For the 44th running of the Sprint Cup, Starspangledbanner headed a field of 20 runners as the 5/2 favourite, but was never in serious contention. The 2009 winner Regal Parade, who had most recently won the Prix Maurice de Gheest, was next up among oddsmakers’ picks at 7/2, whilst Richard Hannon’s crack miler Paco Boy was listed as a 4/1 shot. Neither of those two finished in the money.

The ultimate winner was Markab, an 11/1 underdog that set a new Sprint Cup record of 1:09.40. Lady Of The Desert trailed in second at 9/1, whilst 20/1 Genki took third. It all goes to show that handicapping the wide-open Sprint Cup correctly can pay big.

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