Alex Hammond: Start the Qar! | Racing blog ahead of Haydock's Sprint Cup

Alex reflects on the recent action
Alex reflects on the recent action

Sky Sports Racing's Alex Hammond looks back on the Solario Stakes and ahead to Haydock this weekend in her latest racing blog.

Who’s the horse to take out of the Solario Stakes with next year in mind?

I was lucky enough to host a programme called the Racing Debate on Sky Sports Racing last Sunday with stellar guests Sir Mark Prescott and Simon Holt. Simon’s horse for the tracker was Solario runner-up Kameko and I’m 100 per cent in agreement with the esteemed commentator. The Sandown winner Positive was more streetwise than the Andrew Balding-trained juvenile and he only went down by a nose to the Clive Cox trained winner despite still showing signs of inexperience. He’s bred to improve the further he goes and he should be smart over a mile later this season and a decent middle distance colt next year.

What did you make of Cape Palace’s Newcastle debut on Sky Sports Racing on Friday?

You couldn’t be anything other than impressed with the John Gosden-trained colt. It’s a ringing endorsement that this is a track his trainer likes to send his potentially smart debutantes to (remember Enable winning a maiden fillies’ stakes on debut in November 2016?). Cape Palace cost 300,000 guineas as a foal and as that price tag suggests has an intriguing pedigree. He’s a son of first-season sire Golden Horn who won his only start at two and was champion 3yo with top level victories in the Derby, Eclipse, Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for John Gosden. This juvenile is related to winners in Italy, including an Italian 2000 Guineas winner. So, plenty in his favour on that side of things and he has a decent attitude to his burgeoning career too. It’s hard to say if he beat anything outstanding at Newcastle, but he won as he liked and has entries in the Dewhurst this season and the Derby next. He’s a colt going places and should take the next step up the ladder with the minimum of fuss. He’s 33/1 with Sky Bet for next year’s Derby.

Haydock Sprint Cup this weekend – are you keeping the faith with Advertise?

I am. He’s been beautifully handled by trainer Martyn Meade and his team with the intention of making him into a commercial stallion and it’s gone smoothly so far. This may be a tough assignment though with the possibility of soft ground at Haydock on Saturday and impressive Steward’s Cup winner Khaadem, July Cup conqueror Ten Sovereigns and Diamond Jubilee runner up Dream Of Dreams in opposition. Hello Youmzain isn’t without a chance either after his beating of Calyx at this track in the Sandy Lane Stakes back in May. Having said that, Meade said after his win in the Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville last month that he wants to finish the horse’s career on a high, so he will be pretty positive where he runs him next. He went on to say they are not just in it for the prize money, but to make a really nice stallion. Taking that into account they don’t want to see him beaten again and I think he’ll win. He’s 5/2 with Sky Bet to do so.

There are plenty of other betting opportunities on Saturday, what else have you got your eye on?

The horse I’m most looking forward to seeing runs at either Haydock on Friday (10 furlongs) or Ascot Saturday (12 furlongs).

Qarasu is trained by Roger Charlton and was impressive when winning a mile a quarter handicap at Newbury last time out. His only blip came on a quicker surface at Newmarket on his penultimate outing and soft ground seems to be the key to him. It looks like the ground is going to be most suitable at Haydock, but wherever he runs I’ll be with him. He will stay a mile and a half, but the shorter trip suits well too and this well related colt has been on my radar for a while. He’s a 13/2 shot with Sky Bet for the Ascot race, but unless there’s rain at the Berkshire track, which looks unlikely in any volume, he’ll be off to Lancashire.

The David O’Meara trained Escobar is a constant source of frustration to me, but if he lines up in the Cunard Handicap at Ascot on Saturday I’d rather be with him than against. He’s a horse that needs things to fall right and they didn’t at York last time out, but a return to a big field at Ascot will give him his optimum conditions. He’s 10/1 with Sky Bet and I’m keeping everything crossed for a bit of luck.

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