The ante-post Betfred Sprint Cup preview: Al up for the Cup
Last Updated: 01/09/14 3:42pm
Aljamaaheer (left): Can finally show his worth as a top-class sprinter
Such has been the dominance of Edward Lynam's superb duo Sole Power and Slade Power this season, it comes as no surprise to look at the betting for a Group One sprint find one of them sitting atop the market.
Owner Sabena Power and Lynam's pair have won all four of the top-class sprints in Britain between them this term and could attempt to complete the clean sweep in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock this weekend.
An ailing Slade Power, winner of the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup, will be prepared for a 'spring' campaign Down Under but King's Stand and Nunthorpe hero Sole Power, who has never won a race over this six-furlong trip and thrives over a fast-run five on quick ground, could still take his chance.
Jubilee runner-up Due Diligence is another that misses out which leaves last year's Sprint Cup hero Gordon Lord Byron battling for market supremacy and a pretty sound case can be constructed for him.
Tom Hogan's six-year-old is extremely talented and no less versatile, as highlighted by his Group One victories over six furlongs (this race 12 months ago), seven furlongs (2012 Prix de la Foret) and a mile (George Ryder Stakes in Australia in March this year).
He came into the race last term on the back of a Group Three win on home soil in Ireland and went close to doing the same when beaten a nose by Jamesie at the Curragh recently.
Unlike Sole Power, Gordon loves getting his toe into the ground and he's a little easier to overlook at the prices given the decent weather forecast.
Either way it looks a good race in which to try and unearth some value at the five-day stage and while Due Diligence's stablemate Cougar Mountain rates another highly-promising youngster, and G Force is considered a Group One winner-in-waiting, Aljamaaheer is the standout pick at 14/1.
Gordon Lord Byron's success last year added further weight to the claim that the ability to stay further than six furlongs stands horses in great stead in this end-of-season tussle, with Dream Ahead (2011 scorer), Markab (2010) and Regal Parade (2009) also winners at seven furlongs - or further.
Connections of Aljamaaheer have been fairly candid about their attempts to turn last season's Queen Anne second and Summer Mile winner into a speedster this time around and there were some encouraging signs on the track earlier in the year.
His comeback run, when flashing home for third behind Hamza in the Abernant at Newmarket was a creditable effort to say the least and he stepped up on the bare form when third to Slade Power in the Diamond Jubilee.
He had Tropics, Gordon Lord Byron and Music Master all in arrears that day and was just a head behind Due Diligence, so it's reasonable to suggest he'd be shorter in the betting for Haydock were he going straight there.
That is not the case of course, as he subsequently disappointed in the July Cup when only ninth of 13, but that effort can just about be excused given the unsuitably soft ground and his previously very consistent profile.
An entry in the British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot gives the strong impression trainer Roger Varian will not be giving up on sprinting any time soon on the back of one bad run and I don't think we should be as punters either.
We know this is a top-class performer based on last summer's form, who has shown more than enough on a couple of occasions now that he can cut it in smart company over six furlongs, and his undoubted ability to stay further is the key factor heading into this weekend's showpiece.