Haydock’s three-day Sprint Cup meeting opened on Thursday on ground that was officially good, good-to-soft in places, but it is now soft and heavy in places ahead of the Friday card with some more rain possible this morning.

It is hard to see it being anything other than testing for Saturday’s Group One sprint, for which there are a dozen declarations headed by last year’s winner, Harry Angel, and the change in the going has already led to a series of non-runners on Friday’s card.

Sixteen horses have been scratched so far, but Rapid Applause (3.00) is still engaged in the valuable optional claiming handicap and is unlikely to suffer the difficult passage that saw him finish only fifth behind Global Applause at Sandown last weekend. That was his first run since recording his second win of the season back in May, and little, if any, improvement will be required to see him register another success today.

The change in the ground tempers enthusiasm for several of the other contests on the card, but Swiss Storm (4.45) has gone well on heavy going in the past and could get an easy time of it in front in the 10-furlong handicap.

The day’s other main card is at Ascot, and the Queen should record another winner at her track when the progressive Sextant faces just two opponents at 3.15.

Gurkha Friend (4.20) will be a more appealing price for the penultimate race on the card, but the best bet of the day could be Parnassian (4.55) in the concluding sprint handicap. Amanda Perrett’s four-year-old was demoted to second place after being first past the post at Windsor on Monday having stopped the clock in a useful time, and he should make amends off the same mark on Friday.

Ascot 1.30 Kamikaze Lord 2.05 Bangkok 2.40 What A Welcome 3.15 Sextant 3.50 Sir Hamilton 4.20 Gurkha Friend 4.55 Parnassian (nap) 

Newcastle 1.40 Robben Rainbow 2.15 Seebring 2.50 Cray 3.25 Exclusive Waters 4.00 Massam 4.35 Mainsail Atlantic 5.10 Quickly Does It 5.40 Hop Maddocks 
Haydock Park 1.50 Gallic 2.25 Hidden Message 3.00 Rapid Applause (nb) 3.35 Show Palace 4.10 Rum Runner 4.45 Swiss Storm 5.15 Burn Some Dust 

Musselburgh 4.25 Sky Defender 5.00 Suwaan 5.30 Aphaea 6.00 Zeshov 6.30 Our Charlie Brown 7.00 Chebsey Beau 7.30 Newgate Sioux 
Kempton Park 5.45 Repton 6.15 Artois 6.45 Alfurat River 7.15 Imperial Charm 7.45 Enzemble 8.15 Han Solo Berger 8.45 Forbidding 


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