Hannon set to saddle half-dozen as he bids to continue family domination of Weatherbys Super Sprint
A maximum field of 25 is due to go to post in Saturday’s £250,000 Weatherbys Super Sprint (3.45pm) at Newbury.
The unique five-furlong contest is restricted to two-year-olds who were bought as yearlings at specified sales for £47,500 or less before July 1, 2014, or for £50,500 or less after June 30 during the same year. For each £3,000 paid under £50,500, horses are given a 1lb allowance. It therefore offers a fantastic opportunity for smaller owners, with prize money extending to 10th place.
Such is the popularity of the Weatherbys Super Sprint, no less than 44 horses have failed to get into the race at today’s final declaration stage.
Last year’s Weatherbys Super Sprint went to subsequent Group One heroine Tiggy Wiggy, who ended the season as the highest-rated two-year-old filly in Europe, and her trainer Richard Hannon has six runners in 2015. The pick of the Hannon half-dozen looks to be Naas Listed scorer Great Page (the mount of Richard Hughes) and dual winner Receding Waves (Sean Levey). Richard Hannon senior won the race a record seven times, saddling the previous record of six runners in 2002, 2008 and 2010.
Tim Easterby is the most successful current trainer in the Weatherbys Super Sprint with three victories, most recently Body And Soul in 2012. There are four runners from the Yorkshire handler in 2014, who have all scored in maiden company – low-weighted Excessable (Duran Fentiman), Mininggold (David Probert), Midnight Malibu (Cathy Gannon) and Quick N Quirky (James Sullivan).
Another Yorkshire handler, Richard Fahey, won the Weatherbys Super Sprint two years ago with Peniaphobia. In 2015, Fahey has more runners than any other trainer in the history of the race, with eight horses set to line up for him. These include the eye-catching maiden winners Lathom (Tony Hamilton) and Powerallied (Paul Pickard). Fahey clearly likes the Weatherbys Super Sprint as he also had the most runners in the previous three renewals – five in 2014 & 2013 and three in 2012.
Soapy Aitken is bidding to bounce back from an odds-on defeat in the Listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown Park on July 3, when he finished third to the Mark Johnston-trained Riflescope.
The son of Pastoral Pursuits won his first two starts at Leicester and Windsor in eye-catching fashion and shaped well when fourth to Washington DC in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. With an official rating of 99, he is the highest-rated horse in the Weatherbys Super Sprint, but with 8st 9lb, many of his rivals are receiving weight from him.
Trainer Clive Cox, who is based near to Newbury at Lambourn, commented today: “Soapy Aitken has come out of Sandown well.
“We were disappointed there but, in all honesty, I think we were beaten by a very nice horse.
“Soapy Aitken’s fourth in the Windsor Castle was very promising, though if you look at the time of the Norfolk where Riflescope was fourth, piecing it all together, it is understandable form.
“I have been very pleased with Soapy Aitken since Sandown and I think we have a realistic chance of being excited on Saturday.”
Cox has come closest to winning the Weatherbys Super Sprint with 20/1 chance Online Investor, who finished runner-up in 2001.
Paul Hanagan rides Soapy Aitken for the first time.
Other interesting contenders include the impressive maiden winners Hawatif (Mark Johnston/Silvestre de Sousa) and Moondyne Joe (Karl Burke/Andrew Mullen).
Aeolus (Ed Walker/George Baker) is out to defy a 4lb penalty in the £60,000 Group Three Al Basti Equiworld Hackwood Stakes (3.10pm) over six furlongs.
The four-year-old registered the biggest victory of his career when annexing the Group Three Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle on June 27. Watchable (David O’Meara/Daniel Tudhope), who reopposes, was two and three quarter lengths back in fifth.
Other notables include Godolphin’s Portamento (Charlie Appleby/William Buick), who got back to winning ways at Chester last week, and The Queen’s Listed scorer Musical Comedy (Richard Hannon/Richard Hughes).
Exciting three-year-olds Consort (Sir Michael Stoute/Frankie Dettori) and Intiliaaq (Roger Varian/Paul Hanagan) step up in trip for the Listed JLT Stakes over 10 furlongs.
Consort was last seen out when finishing third to Gleneagles in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, while Intilaaq created a huge impression when taking a mile maiden by eight lengths at Newbury in April. Intilaaq has not been seen since trailing home 15th in Newmarket Classic, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.
The pair are set to clash with high-class older horse Tullius (Andrew Balding/William Buick), Wolferton Handicap third Fire Fighting (Mark Johnston/Silvestre de Sousa) and fellow three-year-old Mustadeem (Brian Meehan/Sean Levey), who was third in the Group Three Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Saturday’s action gets underway at 1.25pm and concludes at 4.55pm, after which dance music stars Danny Howard and DJ Fresh take to the Party in the Paddock stage from 5.30pm.
Howard is one of the UK’s most high-profile DJs, fronting BBC Radio 1’s Dance Anthems show with over 1.8 million listeners every weekend, while DJ Fresh has over two million record sales and two UK number one singles to his name, notably the 2012 Brit Award nominated ‘Hot Right Now’ featuring Rita Ora.
Tickets are available at www.newburyracecourse.co.uk
Newbury also races tomorrow, Friday, July 17, with a seven-race card running from 2.00pm to 5.15pm.
The going at Newbury is currently Good, Good to Firm in places