Profit from Extortionist
Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt previews the feature action on Saturday's cards at Haydock and Kempton.
- Related Content
EXTORIONIST, a horse who has been begging to run at six furlongs in recent starts, could upset some older established sprinters in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.
The Ollie Stevens-trained colt seems to be getting better with every race; he needed every yard of Sandown's stiff five furlongs to beat Kingsgate Native in early July since when he has run two excellent races at Group Two and Group One level, just failing to catch Take Cover (Moviesta third, G Force fifth) in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood before finishing strongly to take third (beaten half a length) behind Sole Power (Moviesta fourth, Hot Streak fifth, G Force sixth, Cougar Mountain ninth, Astaire 10th) in the Nunthorpe at York.
On dismounting from Extortionist on the latter occasion, jockey Ryan Moore advised that connections ought to try six furlongs and, while it is a shame that the jockeys' championship leader is not aboard this time, Pat Smullen is a top-class deputy.
Given a bit more improvement over the extra yardage, the York placings could well be turned given that Sole Power, for all his brilliance, has never won at this trip and was well beaten in this race behind Dream Ahead in 2011.
Clearly, Eddie Lynam's star sprinter is a better horse now - and having a superb season - but Richard Hughes will have to be more patient with him than ever this time and it remains to be seen if he can reproduce his now famous finishing kick.
In contrast, Gordon Lord Byron is clearly made for this race. An impressive winner from Slade Power (who has done nothing but boost the form since) last year, he was beaten only three-quarters of a length by Society Rock in 2012.
At his best, Tom Hogan's stable star is the one to beat but he was winning in Australia back in March (another superb effort) and, only seventh and eighth in Hong Kong and at Royal Ascot since then, the travelling might just have taken the edge off him.
A close second to Jamesie at The Curragh last time was a better effort from Gordon Lord Byron though it was a race, on ratings, which he ought to have won.
In a ferociously competitive renewal, the improving Music Master and Tropics look leading contenders while Aidan O'Brien's Cougar Mountain will be much better suited by a return to six furlongs having been outpaced most of the way in the five-furlong Nunthorpe last time.
Earlier, Tropics had Cougar Mountain behind him in fifth when posting a career-best second to Slade Power (Hot Streak seventh, Moviesta eighth, Astaire 11th) in the July Cup and Dean Ivory's hugely progressive sprinter has since won readily, again at Newmarket.
Music Master probably needs every yard of six furlongs; he was keeping on at the finish when fourth to Slade Power (Astaire sixth, Gordon Lord Byron eighth, Tropics ninth, Es Que Love 11th) in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and then got up close home at Newbury in July to beat Heeraat a neck with subsequent Goodwood winner Es Que Love only another short head away in third.
Henry Candy's four-year-old is sure to be thereabouts especially if reproducing his Royal Ascot effort over this easier six furlongs.
At Kempton, TENOR is fancied to continue his progress by defying top weight in the Totepool London Mile Handicap Final.
John Ryan's gelding has plenty to do here on his fourth to the reopposing Buckstay over the course and distance in June but has taken leaps and bounds forwards since then, slamming Messila Star by four lengths on his next course visit, running second in a listed race at Pontefract and, most recently, second again to Don't Call Me at the Shergar Cup.
Tenor has gone up plenty in the weights but it looks fully warranted and the booking of promising 5lb claimer Joe Doyle is likely to prove advantageous.