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African Rose all the rage for Cup as going softens

AFRICAN ROSE was all the rage with punters for the Betfred Sprint Cup as Criquette Head-Maarek shrugged off the fear of soft ground which is threatening the participation of several rivals on Saturday.

The Prix Maurice de Gheest runner-up had her odds cut into 11-2 (from 6) by the sponsors and Bet365 (from 13-2) to give France a first victory in the Haydock Group 1 contest since the John Hammond-trained Nuclear Debate scored in 2001.

Conditions are sure to be testing, with recent wet weather and the forecast of more rain causing the course to hire plastic sheets in a bid to avoid the threat of waterlogging, but Head-Maarek told At The Races: "African Rose won't mind the soft ground and the only excuse we will have is that she could be beaten by better horses.

"England is always a tough place to go and win, but African Rose can follow any pace and we want to try. We supplemented her and it is a big step up, but we are going to try our best.

"She has got a lot of speed and the more speed there is in the race atHaydock, the better it will suit her. I thought for a while that our filly was going to beat Marchand D'Or last time, but he was just too strong."

Michael Jarvis is loath to run Sandown Group 3 winner Ancien Regime in the mud and said: "I wouldn't want to run him if it's a bog. He was going to go to Baden-Baden last Sunday but we decided against travelling the horse at this stage of his career. If he didn't got to Haydock he'd probably go to Goodwood the following week for a Listed race."                    

Saeed Bin Suroor is also concerned about conditions for Maurice de Gheest fifth Diabolical.

Godolphin's trainer, who also has the long-absent Asset in the field, said: "Diabolical likes good, good to firm ground and if it is too soft we will have to think about it.

"He worked today and he worked nicely like always, he is always very honest. It's a Group 1 and they're always very tough but the horse has come out of his last race in good form.

"Asset has taken a very long time but the horse is doing very well now.We will have a look before we decide whether to run him."

JeremyNoseda is wary of the ground for Strike The Deal.

He said: "I just hope it doesn't rain too much. He needs the ground to be faster but I heard a weather forecast today, and that sounded pretty poor."

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