Article by Neil Watson
This Saturday sees the only Group One flat race that is run in the north west, the Haydock Park Sprint Cup over the straight 6 furlongs.
First run in 1966 when it used to be held in November it is now traditionally run on the first Saturday in September and kick starts the late summer and early autumn part of the turf flat season.
Arguably one of the most famous and well known of all the winners is the very first one, Be Friendly who was owned by the late Sir Peter Sullivan and followed up again the following year only to be thwarted in his pursuit of a three timer when fog brought about the 1968 race to be abandoned and unlike today the race was not rescheduled or transferred like the 2008 running was when it was held at Doncaster.
As this year is 2019 its time to travel back in the racing Tardis and look at a few winners of the race ending with the number nine.
In 2009 the father and son combination of David and Adrian Nicholls landed the race with Regal Parade who obliged at 14-1 just edging out Fleeting Spirit by half a length.
Formerly with Mark Johnstone originally Regal Parade moved to David Nicholls in 2008 with one of his first wins being at Ascot on the old Ascot Heath Day and in the autumn also landed the prestigious Ayr Gold Cup, from that the sights were set on the top end of the sprinting game and that finally came about with his 2009 Cup win at Haydock, from that big wins at Newbury and Deauville got added to his CV.
Come 2012 and Regal Parade swapped Yorkshire for Wales as he was switched to Milton Bradley’s yard and where he got more wins at York, Haydock and Newmarket for good measure, 2015 saw another move to Charlie Wallis’ stable in Essex where despite keeping up consistent form he never won again before earning an honourable retirement in 2016.
Frankie Dettori has only one Haydock Sprint Cup to his name and this came about in 1999 for his old employees of Saeed Bin Suroor and Godolphin as Diktat came through from off the pace to land what would be the last of his seven career wins.
Originally with David Loder in his early days he was to Saeed Bin Suroor in the spring of 1999 which proved to be the ideal move as he racked up four wins on the bounce, the first of which came at Goodwood in the old Shergar Cup but then he subsequently picked up the Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville then came to the Merseyside venue to beat a top class field of sprinters.
After that his 2000 season proved to be poor with tries at 7f and 1m proving not to be as good and he was retired to stud in 2001 most notably being the sire of Dream Ahead who won the 2011 Sprint Cup under William Buick and the July Cup for Hayley Turner.
Back in 1989 the late Pat Eddery gained his third Sprint Cup victory when he brought the great Danehill in the famous Khalid Abdullah colours through to cement his place as that seasons top 6f horse after potential classic aspirations had fallen by the wayside.
Successful at Newmarket’s Craven Meeting in the Free Handicap he lined up for the 2000 Guineas where he could only finish third behind the wonderful Nashwan then when sent to the Curragh for compensation he ended up coming fourth.
After that connections decided to drop him back in trip and Danehill was despatched off to Royal Ascot for what was the Cork and Orrey Stakes but now is more known as the Golden Jubilee Stakes, back then it was only a Group Three as opposed to the Group One status it now carries but under Willie Carson he was at his most brilliant, after that he could only muster a third in the July Cup but he finished his career at Haydock in excellent style.
Upon his retirement he began what could only be described one of the greatest stallions around and became a shuttle stallion at Coolmore and in Australia with a visit to Japan in 1996.
Coolmore eventually became the sole owners and Danehill sired some of the best horses ever seen like Rock Of Gibraltar, Dylan Thomas, Mozart and Westener, a list so long that even the infinite amount of monkeys and typewriters would struggle to get it all written down so successful was Danehill as a sire.
Sadly, in May 2013 Danehill had to be put down following an accident in the paddock when he broke a hip, this was a sad loss to the breeding world of a stallion who had a massive impact in the game.
As you can see a very illustrious list of some of Haydock’s speed kings who have blazed down its straight six-furlong course.
Always a race full of hustle and bustle with the pace horses blazing the trail and the hold-up ones hoping not to be stuck behind like sardines, whoever wins this weekend’s renewal will be part of Haydock history with its most prestigious flat race.
Who wins it? Well who knows, it is still one of the few Group One races that Aidan O’Brien has yet to win, Can Ten Sovereigns pick this one up? I would love it as would many if Aidan could break his maiden tag in it although that would be tempting fate so while I shall have a quiet night in this Friday, I will do it with huge anticipation over what is to come on Saturday afternoon.