Danetime favourite for Sprint

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The Independent Online
Racing reorganised yesterday to save the best races that would have been run in Saturday's programme, cancelled as a mark of respect for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Despite suggestions that the races might be delayed until next week and relocated, both the Haydock Park Sprint and Epsom's September Stakes will now take place at their original venues on Friday.

A pounds 10,000 handicap over the Derby course, originally due to be run on Saturday at Epsom, has also been switched.

Both racecourses will now stage eight-race cards, unless there are divisions, with Channel 4 televising five races, four from Epsom plus the Group One Sprint from Haydock.

Haydock and the Levy Board have maintained the support of the Sprint Cup at pounds 100,000, but at Epsom a sponsor has been lost. "Grosvenor Casinos were due to sponsor the whole of the Saturday card," Andrew Cooper, the clerk of the course, said, "and could have backed the September Stakes, but the switch to Friday didn't meet with their sponsorship objectives."

Nevertheless, the value of the September Stakes will remain at pounds 30,000. "We have now funded the race through a combination of ourselves, the Levy Board and BHB," Cooper said.

The BHB had considered switching the races to Doncaster or Goodwood a week later. However, its racing director, Paul Greeves, said: "Retaining the races on their original courses had to be the best option. Trainers enter horses to run on a particular course. But the whole exercise is tinged with the sadness of having to do it in the first place."

Haydock will be giving away a commemorative racecard and observing a minute's silence before the meeting starts. The course executive expects the attendance to be well down on a Saturday crowd of 10-15,000. Epsom anticipates a crowd of around 4,000.

Saturday's card at Fairyhouse will go ahead, while the greyhound meetings at Catford and Romford scheduled for Saturday morning have been postponed until the afternoon. William Hill plan to open their betting shops in the afternoon.

That firm have opened betting on the Haydock Sprint, taking the view that the Stewards' Cup winner, Danetime, can make the transition from handicapper to Group One winner in one step. They have priced him as the 11-4 favourite.

"Danetime is the most progressive sprinter in the country," the firm's representative, David Hood, said. "Although he takes on some battle-hardened professionals in Coastal Bluff, Royal Applause and Averti, the ground will be ideal for him to take their scalps there."

Neville Callaghan, Danetime's trainer, certainly believes his colt has the right conditions to take a dramatic step up in class. "I think the ground will be on the soft side of good - I hear it has been raining at Haydock today - and anything other than firm is OK," he said.

"The race is a day earlier, but if he wasn't ready to run on the Saturday he wouldn't be ready to run on the Friday. I am perfectly happy with him and he is entitled to take his chance."

Royal Applause, William Hill's second choice at 7-2, is also ready for what looks likely to prove the most competitive sprint of the season. The four-year-old's trainer, Barry Hills, said: "He did a bit of work for Michael [the trainer's son] this morning and he was very happy with him. He's in good form and I am looking forward to it."

Royal Applause lost his unbeaten record for the season when second at odds of 11-10 in the July Cup on his latest start, finding 50-1 outsider Compton Hill too strong.

Hills took the bay's defeat philosophically: "Group One races are never easy to win. He didn't get the best of breaks and he didn't get into a high cruising speed like he normally does. He came down the stands side and the other horse came down the other side but the winner showed the speed to pick up from about fifth and is a pretty good horse."

Compton Place, 14th of 15 in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last time, will attempt to confirm July Cup form with Royal Applause as long as the ground at Haydock is good or faster.

His trainer, James Toller, said yesterday: "He seems very well and I can only think that it was a combination of the rain and missing the break that caused him to run badly at York."

Conversely, connections of the John Dunlop-trained Indian Rocket are hoping for rainfall over the coming days.

Haydock Park Sprint (Friday) William Hill: 11-4 Danetime, 7-2 Royal Applause, 4-1 Coastal Bluff, 8-1 Averti, 9-1 Compton Place, 10-1 Dazzle, Indian Rocket, Monaassib & Tomba, 16-1 Muchea, 33-1 Hattab, 50-1 Tadeo & Tedburrow.

n Folkestone racecourse received a complaint by telephone yesterday saying that Plastered In Paris, a runner in the median auction maiden stakes, should not have been allowed to run because of the tragic circumstances of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales at the weekend. The chestnut gelding finished seventh.