Betfred Sprint Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (Class 1) (3YO plus)
Advice: 1 pt each/way Music Master (8/1 Hills), 1 pt each/way Cougar Mountain (14/1 Hills)
Baccarat: Winner of the Great St Wilfrid last summer and new career best after couple of very promising efforts saw him land the Wokingham at Ascot, form that has been held up well enough since; Needs to find a huge amount more at this level though.
Caspar Netscher: Never quite went on from fantastic juvenile season but had solid campaign last year; Ground would have been of no use to him at Deauville but didn’t show much at Newmarket when last seen.
Dinkum Diamond: Third behind Extortionist two starts ago but that as close as he’s gotten in pattern company this season and others make much more appeal here.
Es Que Love: Generally been most consistent over the season at 6 furlongs although his speed carried well to land the Lennox Stakes in convincing style last time; Fair claims on that effort unplaced in both Golden Jubilee and July Cup while also well beaten by Music Master when last seen; Others make more appeal.
Gordon Lord Bryon: Globetrotter who landed another big overseas prize when taking George Ryder Stakes; Deeply impressive in winning this last er in fine style and this has been the long term target; Would have needed his return when eighth in Diamond Jubilee but better in Ireland when last seen and should go well here today in repeat bid.
Maarek: Loves soft ground; Winner of the Duke of York this year from Astaire, then second to Slade Power; Normally so consistent but has been well off his best form in Ireland the last twice, disappointing as favourite and again at the Curragh the last twice and would want much more cut to change things.
Moviesta: A winner over the distance (handicap) but done most of his race since graduating to the top level over 5 furlongs, and made bold bids in King George and Nunthrope; If repeating that bare from over 6 furlongs, should surely go well but that easier said than done despite some decent form over the distance in the past.
Music Master: Overdid the front running tactics when disappointing in Windsor listed contest but reversed to opposite style and was an impressive fourth in the Diamond Jubilee, finishing fourth despite being on the opposite side with little cover, and backed that up with win at Newbury; No reason that he can’t go well today.
Pearl Secret: Shaped like a sprinter of huge promise when third in the Kings’ Stand last year but been hot and miss since, looking to feel the ground when disappointing in the Palace House and Kings’ Stand; Won a small listed contest last time but back up in class, needs a significant ease in the ground.
Professor: Second giving 5lbs to Baccarat in the Wokingham and has held his form well since, but had a lot of hard racing and well beaten efforts the last twice suggests that this may be flying too high for him.
Sole Power: Underlined his reputation as one of Europe’s premium sprinters with 5 furlong double in King’s Stand and Nunthorpe, coming with irresistible late runs both times; 6 furlongs has sometimes not been his bag in the past (no wins over the distance, only fifth in last year’s July Cup) but the clear form pick here.
Tropics: Thrived in 2013 with 5 wins including very convincing Ascot 3 over Music Master, and back to that sort of form and even more when second in the July Cup; Backed that up with fine win latest considering how much went against him (pulled too hard and poor run through) and should go well if repeating his previous form.
Astaire: Has not been seen at his best so far this season but had plenty of excuses for that with 5 furlongs likely to have been no good to him and plenty of other things going against him; May have pressure for the lead in such a big field here but not without his chances and can outrun his odds.
Cougar Mountain: Backed, and won like a group horse on his debut when bolting up at Naas and shaped with tremendous potential when fifth in the July Cup on his second start, a tremendous effort not taking into account the fact that he finished on his own and first two were on far side; Only ninth in the Nunthorpe but 5 furlongs far too quick and only beaten two lengths; Expect this to suit far better.
Extortionist: Extremely progressive sprinter who has progressive from taking well contested handicap to finishing second in King George Stakes at Goodwood and then third in the Nunthorpe; A worry that this is an extra furlong for him but has finished in the past as if it would suit; Contender.
G Force: Has been rapidly progressive this season over 5 furlongs, being extremely unlucky not to get close than sixth in the Nunthorpe and like quite a few, doing his best work later in the day; One of a few likely ones if keeping or improving his form from stepping up in distance.
Hot Streak: So exciting as juvenile and even more so with impressive win in the Temple Stakes; Third in the King’s Stand but since been a little below expectations in the July Cup and Nunthorpe and others make more appeal.
VERDICT: An extremely competitive renewal with many of the leading contenders not proven over 6 furlongs. Those include the whole host of Nunthorpe principals attempting to reverse form with Sole Power, who should go well once again in a big for a Group 1 hat-trick, but COUGAR MOUNTAIN should thrive back for the step upto 6 furlongs and was unlucky to be caught on the wrong side of the track in the July Cup when a tremendous fifth on just his third start (behind Tropics, who can once again go well today). Another one who makes appeal is MUSIC MASTER, who was an impressive fourth considering his lack of company in the Diamond Jubilee and a good winner last time out. Best of the outsiders is Astaire.