The Betfred Sprint Cup: A Brief History and This Year’s Event
August 30, 2016
While the Betfred Sprint Cup Festival is not necessarily the most lavish, historic or famous race meeting in the UK, it has a special place in the hearts of traditionalists. A popular flat race event, it takes place at the iconic Haydock Park every September and is primed for a bumper event this year.
The highlight of this event is the Sprint Cup, which is a Group One race that is open to thoroughbred aged three years or older. It covers a huge distance of six furlongs, and is renowned as one of the longer flat races of the season.
Then and Now: A Brief History of the Sprint Cup
One of the reasons why this event is not widely revered is its relatively short lifespan, as it was first established as recently as 1966. Originally open to horses aged two years and older, it was devised by Robert Sangster who later became a horse breeder and trainer himself. It transferred to the iconic Haydock Park 20 years later in 1986, while in 1994 (and after years of fluctuations in the rules) the headline race was finally closed to two-year-old competitors.
While only one horse has ever won the Sprint Cup twice (Be Friendly back in 1966 and 1967), four jockeys have succeeded on three separate occasions. This include famous names such as Lester Piggott and Willie Carson, alongside Pat Eddery and Bruce Raymond. The Sprint Cup race is also a particular favourite of former trainer John Dunlop, whose charges won on four occasions between 1981 and 2002.
This year’s race: Who are the Favourites?
The main event at this years’ festival is sure to be keenly contested, not least because some of the season’s leading trainers to date will go head-to-heat. Top earner and, prize winner Aiden O’Brien has an entry in the form of Due Diligence, for example, although he is not thought to be among the Betfred Sprint Cup favourites this time around. John Gosden, who has earned a cool £2 million this term, is also represented by the Irish-bred Waady. This horse can currently be backed at 20/1, so he is not particularly favoured to emerge victorious at present.
Trainer Richard Fahey, who has a win-rate of 12% this term, may fancy his chances of success with the fancied Eastern Impact. He is currently available at 14/1, while the horse has showcased solid form and will be shepherded by the talented jockey Jack Garritty.