There are further showers forecast at Haydock overnight with the ground already riding soft on Friday afternoon, so it looks set to be extremely testing conditions.
The Group 1 Sprint Cup represents the main attraction on the card, but the 32Red Mile Group 3 later on looks a decent contest with a fairly wide open looking betting market.
Sir Michael Stoute has been in good form with his four-year-olds of late and runs another here in Ballet Concerto, who has been massively on the upgrade. He followed up a great win in the John Smith’s Cup with a Group 3 success at Salisbury against a small field.
He carries a 3lb penalty for that and the loss of his usual jockey Ryan Moore is a negative, but he should be there or thereabouts at the finish.
A case could be made for Victory Bond and Flaming Spear improving on their handicap form in these conditions, but they both need to find a good few pounds to be competitive here for win purposes.
Also Sovereign Debt has remained ultra-consistent this campaign, and would have to pull out one of his finest performances to give weight all-round here and be victorius.
Then there is Roger Varian’s Morando, who looks particularly interesting, and can improve on his Leopardstown run in this company. The form of his Listed success on his reappearance run has worked out well, but on balance his price looks a little on the skinny side for me as he seeks his first pattern level win.
Stronger preference is for Godolphin’s BENBATL, who has had the benefit of a six week break after finishing fifth to Enable in the Group 1 King George VI Stakes at Ascot.
That may have been one race too many, because he didn’t fully fire that day, with his season already including a third in the Craven Stakes, a second in the Dante – on fairly soft going – before claiming fifth in the Epsom Derby.
Benbatl showed plenty of speed when winning the Group 3 1m 2f Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in the year as he did when romping home in his maiden in April.
This represents a massive drop in class for the son of Dubawi, and the step back down in trip could also be interesting having raced well at middle-distances. He is receiving weight all round from his elder rivals this afternoon and could provide William Carson with a great victory.
This impressive three-year-old colt has definitely got the class to take this race, and with the underfoot conditions, stamina is going to be a major factor and I expect him to be coming home as one of the strongest at the business end of the race.
1.5pts win Benbatl @5/1, 15:35 Haydock, Saturday (Paddy Power)
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