2014 will see the 46th running of the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday 6th September, a race with a rich and varied history whose winners include some of the outstanding racehorses of the past 4 decades.
Fog put paid to what would have been the 3rd Sprint Cup in 1968, the only year it has been lost, when the first of the races champions ‘Be Friendly’ would have bid for a hat-trick. Robert Sangster had bought a share in 'Be Friendly' from the renowned BBC TV commentator, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, after his 2 Victories, the first of them as a 2-year-old. Sangster had to wait until 1985 to fulfil his ambition to see his own colours carried to victory in the race which, in its formative years, was sponsored by his family’s pools firm, Vernons.
The 1985 race, won by 'Orojova', was the last to be run on the round course with the bend into the home straight and was switched to a new 6-furlong straight course and moved back to early September from its traditional November slot. This earlier position in the calendar gave the Sprint Cup more chance of being run on truer going and the new straight course answered those who had criticised the race as being unfair.
It still took until 1988, however, for the Sprint Cup to gain its Group 1 status. It’s overdue promotion being assisted by a fine collection of winners including 'Tudor Music', the French Filly 'Lianga', 'Double Form' and 'Habibti' and more recently 'Diktat', 'Goodricke', 'Royal Applause', 'Reverence' and 'Dream Ahead'.
And so, 46 years after 'Be Friendly’s' double for the race set off to such a memorable start – with his owner betraying no trace of partiality in his TV commentary – the Sprint Cup is still thriving.
Long may it continue to do so.