The last jockey to win back-to-back runnings of the Betfred Sprint Cup was Pat Eddery in 1988-89 courtesy of the Jeremy Tree duo Dowsing and Danehill, and now William Buick is set to repeat the feat aboard Ortensia on Saturday.
The young jockey was in a bit of dilemma time-wise as he was also expected to partner the John Gosden-trained Nathaniel in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown later that afternoon. Now he can do both, as Haydock have kindly moved their feature event to an ealier slot on the card to give Buick time to fly over to Ireland.
So, with the pressure off, it is all systems go for Ortensia to try and repeat her stunning performance in the Nunthorpe at York, where Buick brought her virtually from last to first on the far rail to triumph. In doing so the Australian mare emulated the mighty Frankel in securing a 13th career success, and connections are now bubbling with confidence ahead of Saturday. The ground is forecast to be on the fast side of good, while the return to six furlongs will also suit her, and she looks the one to beat again.
One slight negative is the fact that only two 7-year-olds have ever won this prestigious affair-the Willie Carson-ridden Boldboy in 1977, and more recenty Henry Candy’s Markab two years ago, but don’t let that put you off.
Granted all the action was on the far side at York, while poor old Bated Breath never really got into his stride on the stands side. His Haydock record is impeccable, three wins and a second, and of course he was only just denied by Dream Ahead 12 months ago. Roger Charlton’s charge is still looking for the Group 1 victory that will ensure his popularity at stud, but he is a banker for the frame, having reached that position in the King’s Stand Stakes and July Cup.
There have been five French-trained winners, so it would be rude not to mention Wizz Kid who has lived with the best of them in all the top sprints. A Group 2 winner at Chantilly, she, like Bated Breath, did not have the race run to suit at York, and connections will be hoping she gets a lot closer to the Australian mare this time.
BetFred Sprint Cup Tips
The enigma from a betting point of view is Strong Suit. Hannon and Hughes have promised ‘something special’ from the four-year-old, and with the weather turning in his favour, we might just get it. He has yet to recapture last season’s form, but perhaps would have won the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury had he not let Lethal Force dominate proceedings.
I would imagine that Hughes will be up with the pace more this time, and would expect Strong Suit to be involved in the finish. Again, if his price is reasonable, an each-way wager could be a shrewd investment, but it is difficult to see him and the rest staving off the fast finishing burst of Ortensia.