Connections of Hello Youmzain are in bullish mood ahead of his bid to become only the second ever dual winner of the Betfair Sprint Cup on Saturday.
Kevin Ryan’s speedster lunged late to deny The Tin Man back-to-back victories in Haydock’s Group One feature 12 months ago – and made a foot-perfect start to the current campaign by claiming Royal Ascot glory in the Diamond Jubilee.
Hello Youmzain has since finished fifth in the July Cup and runner-up in the Prix Maurice de Gheest – and hopes are high that a return to Merseyside can see him become the first horse to win a second Sprint Cup since Be Friendly landed the first two runnings in 1966 and 1967.
Adam Ryan, assistant to his father, said: “Hello Youmzain came out of France in great order. He takes his racing very well and is exactly where we want him at this point.
“I think you have to be confident about his chance. He has great form at Haydock – the only time he has been beaten there was on his second start as a two-year-old and that was by a horse (San Donato) who would go on to finish third in the French 2,000 Guineas.
“Haydock clearly plays to his strengths and he goes there as the defending champion. I think it is fair to say that he is arguably the one they all have to beat.
“It would be great achievement for the horse and the team if he could win the Sprint Cup again, as only one other horse has managed it. He has been a pleasure to train this year and has definitely proved himself as one of the best sprinters around.”
Hello Youmzain is joined by a pair of stable companions in veteran sprinter Brando and the filly Queen Jo Jo.
Ryan added: “You know what you are going to get from Brando. There is still life in the old boy yet and I would not be surprised to see him run another big race.
“Queen Jo Jo is in the form of her life, having won a Group Three and been Group Two-placed this season. She is thriving at the minute and when these fillies get on a roll, you never quite know where they might end up. She deserves a crack at this.”
Dream Of Dreams edges Hello Youmzain for favouritism off the back of a spectacular display in last month’s Hungerford Stakes at Newbury under champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who keeps the ride.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge would not be winning out of turn at Group One level, having been beaten a head in the last two renewals of the Diamond Jubilee – first by the brilliant Blue Point in 2019 and then by Hello Youmzain earlier this summer.
Murphy said: “He is a really lovely horse and he gave me a good feel at Newbury and this has been the target since. If he is in the same form he will go very well.
“It would be lovely if he could win a Group One as he has gone close in two Diamond Jubilees. I’m excited to get on him again.
“I’d never ridden him before Newbury, but he has got an incredibly high cruising speed and he just gave me a super ride.
“I don’t think coming back to the six furlongs is any issue and he doesn’t seem ground dependent.”
The Clive Cox-trained Golden Horde won the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal meeting, since when he has finished third in the July Cup and fifth in the Maurice de Gheest.
The Lambourn handler is keeping his fingers crossed conditions at Haydock do not deteriorate.
“I’m very happy with him and he is in great nick – I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Cox.
“I hope they don’t get any more rain, just so that the ground isn’t an extreme. There are 13 runners and I’m happy with the draw (stall six), but to be honest I wasn’t too concerned about the draw as he does his own thing anyway.
“He has continued to please me throughout and I’ve still got the same great buzz about him as I had earlier in the year.”
The Tin Man bids to regain his Sprint Cup crown for James Fanshawe, who also saddles Archer’s Dream, while Tim Easterby’s Art Power is seeking to bounce back from a disappointing display in the Nunthorpe at York a fortnight ago.
The latter had looked every inch a top-class sprinter in the making in winning his first three starts this season, prior to finishing sixth behind Battaash on the Knavesmire.
Easterby said: “He’s in good order. Six furlongs will suit him better and I’m very happy with him.
“It was the trip at York. It was just too short for him. He wasn’t sharp enough early.
“The ground will not be a problem.”
The Owen Burrows-trained Tabdeed steps up in grade after touching off The Tin Man in Newbury’s Hackwood Stakes.
Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “It’s a big jump up in class. That’s going to be the big question for him, whether he’s up to it.
“I don’t think anybody has necessarily ever felt he was a Group One horse, so we’re jumping in the deep end here.
“But any soft ground will help him, and you never know. He won well the other day, but this is a different level.”
David O’Meara’s Stewards’ Cup winner Summerghand, the Archie Watson-trained Glen Shiel – the mount of Hollie Doyle – and the Irish pair of Aidan O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez and Aidan Fogarty’s Forever In Dreams complete the 13-strong field.