Local jockey Franny Norton got favourite backers off to a good start on day 2 of the Betfred Sprint Cup festival. He landed the first division of the Betfred Sharples Group Handicap, aboard the well supported Hamoody. Eventually sent off the 9/2 joint-favourite, the eight year-old gelding raced in midfield throughout before making headway to challenge entering the final furlong. He held off a flying Another Wise Kid, with Bop It third. Liberty Island won the second division of the handicap, seeing off the fast finishing and well supported Thirteen Shivers.

Norton teamed up with Mark Johnston later on and registered a double courtesy of Prussian in the Betfred Bolton Atlantic Rowing Challenge Handicap. The winning filly was taking a step down in grade and was faced with easier company. Only six days ago she had made Labarinto pull-out all the stops in a big handicap at Sandown. She won today in impressive fashion; two lengths clear at the line. However, that does not tell the full story. Boogie Shoes kept Prussian in a pocket all the way up the home straight and a gap didn’t appear until inside the final furlong. When that gap did come though, the winner readily took it, quickening up in good style. Proud Chieftain ran well in second and Beaufort Twelve, the paddock pick, was third.

Thrilling finishes were the order of the day at Haydock and Red Turban provided the first of these in winning the Betfred IT Medics British Stallion Studs E.B.F. Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. Jeremy Noseda’s filly was slowly away from the gates and raced towards the rear, last of a group of four on the near side. She started to make headway on the approach to the final furlong, the penny having finally dropped. Eventually, she clawed back Sky Garden who looked the likely winner strides from the post. The official distance was a short-head. This was Red Turban’s first racecourse appearance and although well backed (14/1 into 8/1), it is apparent that she will improve further.

Both divisions of the Betfred Bolton Lads & Girls Club Handicap produced tight photo finishes. The first went the way of the rallying Escape To Glory, in the hands of Hayley Turner. He collared Pea Shooter at the post and Sound Amigo was only a head further behind in third. Trade Secret has been inconsistent all season but sprang a 25/1 surprise in the second division. Green Park flew home but was denied by short-head. Hopes N Dreams looked a little unlucky. Kevin Ryan’s runner started slowly and was travelling quite well at the rear. She didn’t have much room as she was making her challenge however, and was forced to squeeze through beaten rivals. The four year-old eventually grabbed third.

Only a neck separated Zacynthus and Able Master in the Betfred Clyde & Co Handicap. The former was a deserved winner for Luca Cumani and Patrick Hills, who were denied in a close photo at Haydock in the first race yesterday. Huff And Puff won the final race, the Betfred 20-20 Technologies Ltd Handicap. Amanda Perrett’s five year-old was handy throughout the event and began to challenge down the home straight. He hit the front inside the furlong and was kept up to his work by Paul Mulrennan, who had earlier won aboard Trade Secret. Winner’s Wish could only manage second, meaning he has been a beaten favourite at Haydock twice this season now. Bridle Belle ran on well enough but was well behind the leading pair.

Tomorrow is the final day of the meeting and the top drawer card features the Betfred Sprint Cup. Racing is scheduled to begin at 1.45pm.

James Muir