Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 08:07 04/09/2014
Haydock's three-day Betfred Sprint Cup meeting gets underway on Thursday afternoon and while the opening day lacks the class associated with Saturday's finale the feature race on the seven-race card, the Betfred Duke Of Lancaster's Regiment Cup Handicap at 4.40, has attracted a competitive field of 15 for the £22k 1m 4f contest headed by the 95-rated Nicholascopernicus.
Esteaming, Sirvino, Highland Castle and Warrior Of Light all renew rivalry after failing to make an impact in a valuable Newmarket handicap last month with the David Barron-trained Esteaming coming out best in fifth, three places ahead of the well supported 15-8 favourite Warrior Of Light who was expected to follow up his easy Ffos Las victory for trained David Lanigan and jockey Ted Durcan but weakened in the closing stages after holding every chance.
Xinbama (10-1 Paddy Power) and Kings Bayonet (20-1 Coral) are two runners who are capable of going close and will appreciate the drop in class, the former a staying-on sixth behind Glenard at York's Ebor Festival and the latter a well beaten 12th in Glorious Goodwood's Bet365 Summer Stakes after taking a keen hold in the early stages, but at the 4-1 available with bet365, the one to beat is the Luca Cumani-trained Kikonga for in-form jockey Andrea Atzeni.
The Danehill Dancer filly looked an exciting prospect after winning two of her first three starts as a three-year-old but proved slightly disappointing when stepped up to Listed company in the second half of the season. The filly was off the course for eight months before returning to action at Newmarket in June and with that race under her belt she found only Arabian Comet too good on her most recent start at Ascot the following month. The winner there is now runing off an 18lb higher mark since finishing a close second in Group 3 and Listed company at Goodwood and York respectively.
Running off a mark of 91 Kikonga could easily be a 100+rated filly by the end of the season if she can build on that encouraging Ascot run the four-year-old should take care of some pretty exposed rivals without too much fuss at the north-west venue.