One of my favourite races of the season takes place today when the Group One Haydock Sprint Cup is the centrepiece of yet another packed afternoon of racing up and down the country.
The six furlong event forms part of the prestigious British Champions Series and the contest has thrown up some shocks down the years, probably as a result of its timing within the flat calendar.
Lethal Force has been the undoubted star of the top flight sprinters in the UK this term and he will bid to embellish his already impressive record that includes wins at Royal Ascot and success in the Group One July Cup at Newmarket.
His credentials for Saturday’s race are clearly outstanding and a reproduction of either of those two big wins should see him home.
Only if there were to be a deluge of rain at Haydock or a difficult draw could I envisage a scenario where he might be beaten.
However, as one would expect the bookmakers have him firmly covered with an uninspiring price and given the races history, looking elsewhere for some each way value may be the best approach to finding some value.
Slade Power has been noted by this column previously as a future Group One winner but it is possible that his exertions so far this year may start to take their toll and see him under perform come this weekend.
Last year’s Dewhurst Stakes winner, Reckless Abandon, remains a sprinter with the potential to progress but he will have to overcome a significant absence at Haydock and we may have to wait until next season to see the best of him.
I do enjoy a little deep sea fishing when it comes to the sprinting division and on his best form Hoof It would undoubtedly represent the value.
Third beaten just a neck in the 2011 renewal of this race and the winner of the Goodwood Stewards Cup in the same year, he has only been seen five times on the track in the past two years.
Still only six, he made a likeable return to action on his seasonal debut and looks to have been laid out for this race.
A creditable performance at Goodwood followed before he was somewhat disappointing at Ripon on his last outing when fitted with a hood for the first time.
With his trainer, Michael Easterby, a canny old fox who excels with horses of this nature, Hoof It could be the surprise package that this race so often throws up.
To conclude, the Lewes trainer, Jim Best, recorded a 47 per cent strike rate in June with his runners and went close to eclipsing that phenomenal performance when backing it up with a 42 per cent success rate in August.
Sugar Hiccups has been transformed by the fast ground after an eight-month break and contributed to the Best tally.
The performance by Best and his brother Tom show just how well they are able to identify a horse’s grade and then place them to best advantage.