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.