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The Haydock Sprint Cup is a Group One contest for three-year olds and older held at Haydock Park racecourse over a straight six-furlongs. 

It is featured as part of the British Champions Series and their sprinting division, and is widely-regarded as one of the leading sprint races of the flat racing campaign.  We have expert racing tips for the Group One highlight.

sprint cup - famous winners

Founded in 1966, the Sprint Cup was originally open to horses aged two years and older before being changed in 1994 to three year olds and above. The race was established by Robert Sangster who later became a leading owner and breeder, linking up with John Magnier and legendary handler Vincent O’Brien in the 1970’s. It was contested in the month of November throughout the early stages of its history until its move to September in 1979. 

The Haydock Sprint Cup was granted Group One status in 1988 and has since produced a rich list of former winners. Habibti, Royal Applause, Nuclear Debate and Dream Ahead have all won the Sprint Cup on route to securing champion sprinter status throughout the history of the contest. The event ranks as Haydock’s biggest race-day of the year and frequently attracts a capacity crowd of over 30,000. 

Haydock Park’s straight six-furlong course ensures the Group One highlight is raced on a level playing field. The relatively flat nature of the track sees no bias in race positioning or draw, though there is a small climb inside the final furlong to the finishing line. A lack of undulations at Haydock routinely ensures a worthy victor and one in which progresses on to further success, enhancing their claims of being crowned Europe’s champion sprinter.

In recent years, the Sprint Cup has been host to a number of fantastic racing stories. The 2009 winner Regal Parade cost his respective owners just £16,000 as a three-year old and went on to become a Group One champion when claiming the Haydock Sprint Cup. It took the horse’s earnings to over £500,000 and saw the horse maintain his love for the sport throughout the next several years. 

The 2013 victor, Gordon Lord Byron, also ranks as one of the greatest thoroughbred sprinters to lift the coveted Sprint Cup title. The Tom Hogan-trained gelding cost a miniscule €2000 when purchased by his owners and has since gone on to earn over £1.6 million in prize-money in races across Britain, Ireland, France, Asia and Australia. His win in 2013 saw trainer Tom Hogan become the first Irish-trained success in the race for over 40 years.

sprint cup expert tips

To win the Haydock Sprint Cup, a horse must possess the necessary pace, speed and acceleration. Viewed by many as a lenient six-furlongs, the need to successfully see out of the distance is crucial to any winning claims. The victory of Twilight Son in 2015 showcased the need for a runner to be performing at their maximum inside the final furlong. Although not a steep uphill run-in, the closing stages often see horses running on from the rear as the well-renowned early pace starts to fold. 

Ridden by Fergus Sweeney, Twilight Son travelled superbly well in behind the pace in the 2015 renewal of the Sprint Cup before utilising his change of acceleration and power inside the final two-furlongs to win from Strath Burn in second. It was a performances that highlighted the importance of staying the full six-furlongs as the race finishes with a lengthy, power-sapping final 200 yards.

haydock's leading raceday

Being Haydock Park’s biggest raceday of the year, the Sprint Cup meeting continuously attracts the most famous and stylish profiles to its Lancashire track each September. Prominent personalities from British sport and showbusiness often make the effort to attend Sprint Cup day as it grows in statue thanks mainly to its well-regarded social and entertainment experience. Haydock regularly offers the finest hospitality during the three-day Sprint Cup festival with plenty of famous faces descending upon the track to gain a slice of great British racing tradition.

The Sprint Cup ranks very highly across Europe as being amongst the leading sprint races of the season. Horses from Britain, Ireland and France often do battle at Haydock to further strengthen the sprinting hierarchy following the summer’s previous contests at York, Royal Ascot and Newmarket. The Haydock highlight often stands as a good measuring stick for Europe’s champion sprinter with a number of former winners going on to win such a coveted prize.

Situated closely to Liverpool and Manchester, the Sprint Cup meeting offers a fantastic blend of competitive racing, leading summer fashion and a strong family atmosphere. The course’s relaxed style and welcoming nature attracts thousands of keen racegoers and general fans to Haydock in search of a fun-filled afternoon of entertainment. September’s sometimes unpredictable climate can affect ground conditions, but it certainly doesn’t affect the meeting’s reputation as one of the best sporting experiences in Lancashire each year, and is routinely rated as one of the flat season’s most competitive race meetings.

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