Utmost Respect "in great order" ahead of Sprint Cup
RICHARD FAHEY believes Utmost Respect, currently favourite for the Betfred Sprint Cup, is in the form of his life ahead of his trip to Haydock on Saturday.
His four-year-old was three and a quarter lengths behind runner-up African Rose when fourth to Marchand D'Or in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville four weeks ago.
The French-trained filly reopposes, but Utmost Respect does at least meet his old rival on 3lb better terms in Saturday's Group 1 over 6f on what is certain to be testing conditions.
"I'm a bit surprised he's favourite. The French horse beat us fair and square out there, but he must have a good chance," said the trainer on Fridayon his way to Keeneland for the yearling sales.
"We feel he's on the up and he's in great order. We've never had him better.
"The ground will be heavy, if it's on, and that will suit him."
Fahey also runs the smart handicapper Knot In Wood inthe hope of winning some of the prize money on offer.
"Take three our four horses out of it and it's not a great Group 1," Fahey added.
"There's plenty of prize money there and to pick a bit of it up would be great.
"He's not a Group 1 horse but he won't mind the conditions."
African Rose's trainer Criquette Head-Maarek is confident the filly will handle the heavy ground.
"She's arrived there and she's very well apparently," she said.
"It's pouring with rain over there, but she won't mind the ground. She won on soft last year and this year as well so I don't think that would bother her."
As Head-Maarek has never visited the Merseyside track she cannot sure whether African Rose's draw in stall five will be an advantage.
"I don't know if she's got a good draw, I've never been to Haydock, so I don't know if it's good or not, but it seems there's a lot of pace around her. The ground will be the same for everyone," she added.
"She's fine and I just hope she's good enough."
Assertive finished last in the Maurice de Gheest but trainer Richard Hannon is hoping the application of blinkers will have the desired effect on the Duke of York Stakes winner.
"Assertive is fine but he has become quite lazy in his work at home so we have decided to put the blinkers on him just to sharpen him up," said Hannon.
"If racing is on it is obviously going to be testing and while I think he is better on a quicker surface, he might just go through it.
"His old man (Bold Edge) certainly didn't mind cut in the ground and the horse isin good form so we will see."