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Everything You Need to Know About the Sprint Cup

The Sprint Cup is one of the highlights of the flat racing season at Haydock Park. Established in 1966, this Group 1 event has become something of a signature race for this particular racecourse! As the name suggests, the Sprint Cup is run over the sprint distance of six furlongs. It is held annually in September, and is considered to be the last 'big sprint' of England's racing season.

A Closer Look at
the Sprint Cup

The Sprint Cup is run annually on one of UK's flat racecourses, the Haydock Park Racecourse along six furlongs of turf. The track itself is a left-handed oval that stretches a mile and a half, however, the horses don't make any turns during the race and run along a straight, half-mile portion of it.

This sprint is open to Group 1 thoroughbreds aged three or older. Each male three-year-old is required to carry 9 stones-1 pound and females must carry 8st-12lbs, whereas, four-year-olds must carry 9st-3lbs or 9st respectively.

fact file

location: Haydock Park Racecourse

grade: Group 1

race type: Flat (Sprint)

The History of the Sprint Cup

Established in 1966, the Sprint Cup was originally open to two-year-old horses and older. It was thought up by Robert Sangster, who later became a prolific breeder and owner of thoroughbred racehorses. At the time of the inauguration of the Sprint Cup, Sangster was the heir to the flourishing Vernon Pools business. This would become the race's sponsor for the first few years.

Currently, the Sprint Cup is open to thoroughbred horses aged three and older. As one of the more valuable races held at Haydock Park Racecourse, the Sprint Cup is worth £260,000 in combined prize money. This makes it one of the fiercest contests of the Haydock racing season together with the Betfair Chase (as of 2017).


2017 marked the 51st running of the Sprint Cup. In that time, this Group 1 race has been consistently recognized as an event where the best sprinters, jockeys and trainers in the world have the opportunity to go head-to-head. Below are a few of the most current records for the race (as of 2017).

  • Only one horse has managed to win the Sprint Cup more than once. Be Friendly raced to victory in the inaugural race of 1966 followed by the very next race in 1967.

  • The title of most successful jockey is shared by Lester Piggott (1971, 1972, and 1980), Pat Eddery (1976, 1988, and 1989), Willie Carson (1977, 1983, and 1990), and Bruce Raymond (1981, 1984, and 1992) who each won three Sprint Cups during their long and illustrious careers.

  • The horse with the fastest time is Markab who ran the 2010 Sprint Cup in 1m: 09.40sec.

  • John Dunlop is the most successful trainer with four wins from Runnett in 1980 to Invincible Spirit in 2002.

Best Moments

Below are some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Sprint Cup (as of 2017).

jockey racing horse
  • The 2013 winner, Gordon Lord Byron, is one of the most memorable success stories of the race. Bought for only €2000, he made history by being the first Irish-trained victor to win the Sprint Cup for the past four decades. It was the second Group 1 win of his career and is considered to be his best performance. By the end of his career, Gordon Lord Byron made his owner over £1.8 million.

  • A life-size, bronze sculpture of Be Friendly adorns Haydock Park to memorialize his uncontested feat of winning the Sprint Cup two consecutive years in a row. In 1966, he won the inaugural race as a two-year-old, then he won again the following year as a three-year-old. Be Friendly was named the Champion Sprinter of Europe and enjoyed 12 wins throughout his career. In addition to the Sprint Cup, he also won other Group 1 events including the King's Stand Stakes and Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp.