Haydock Sprint Cup: Shaquille odds-on for magnificent seven
Shaquille has been backed in to 5/6 favourite with Coral to add another Group One win to his CV in Saturday’s Haydock Sprint Cup.
The Commonwealth Cup and July Cup hero will seek a seventh consecutive success and punters seem confident he will be firing on all cylinders.
Coral’s Lewis Knowles commented: “Shaquille has been very solid at the head of this market all week, and having now gone odds-on, it would be no surprise if he shortened further.
“He does have a big field to contend with here, but the majority of them would have plenty to find with Julie Camacho’s horse and it’s no surprise to see him so popular in the betting.”
Favourite backers will be hoping he avoids another slow start, as Camacho’s super sprinter has been doing his stalls homework ahead of his run on Merseyside.
On both of his most recent runs, the bay left himself with ground to make up when rearing in the stalls and missing the break.
As a result, Camacho and her husband and assistant Steve Brown have turned to Craig Witherford, a specialist horseman who helps with tricky loaders.
“He is in good form, everything’s going to plan for Haydock,” said Brown. “He had a little rest after the July Cup, which was always our intention.
“I had a chat with Craig after Newmarket because we thought Ascot was a one-off, but then it wasn’t, so we needed to do something to try to make him jump out more convincingly.
“He was loaded with a rug and before he jumped out the rug was taken off, it certainly worked at home. He jumped out and looked pretty convincing, hopefully that will be the case when he goes to Haydock.
“It is all about your use of energy, it’d be nice if he could get out smoothly and we’d really see what he can do then.”
“It always looked likely that Shaquille would continue to shorten throughout the week for this, but the each-way money for Lezoo is certainly interesting,” added Coral’s Knowles.
“She bounced back to form in what looked like a very good Listed contest at Newmarket last month, and although this will require another step forward, it is still very early days for Beckett’s filly.”
The Kimpton Down handler has his string in excellent form at present, highlighted by his recent big-race treble courtesy of Kinross at York, Angel Bleu at Goodwood and Lezoo at Newmarket.
Lezoo notched her first victory since landing last season’s Cheveley Park in the Listed Hopeful Stakes on the July Course and is being readied for a return to Group One level on Merseyside.
Reflecting on Lezoo’s recent return to winning ways, Beckett added: “Having won a Listed race, it makes sense to go back to a Group One on a track that will play to the strengths of her, and we will go from there.
“If we get beat, we get beat, but it is more that this is the right race for her. If she was to go and finish in the first four, that would be great as well.”
Spycatcher has been declared following his near-miss in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, going down by just a short head to King Gold at Deauville, but is doubtful unless there is a sudden downpour.
Saint Lawrence will attempt to continue on his upward curve, having followed up a Wokingham win at Royal Ascot with third place in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, and he is 14/1.
The George Boughey-trained Believing and Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Mill Stream are two other interesting contenders after their respective connections paid the £20,000 required to add them to the field.
Believing has won two Listed races and a Group Three this season and is one of two potential runners for the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing team along with Spycatcher.
Mill Stream won a Listed race and a Group Three at the French track in August and fully merits his place in Group One company.
“Mill Stream has come out of his Deauville race in good order, so we have decided to take the opportunity to run him again while he is in good form as there are no other options for him until Champions Day,” said Chapple-Hyam.
10/1 Mill Stream
11/1 Sacred, Spycatcher
14/1 Regional, Lezoo, Run To Freedom, Saint Lawrence
All odds and market correct at date of publication