Newbury preview ahead of Hackwood Stakes - petsitterbank

Newbury preview ahead of Hackwood Stakes

Our man takes an early look at one of Saturday’s feature races at Newbury.

Anyone fortunate enough to have read the ‘sprinters to follow’ feature on these pages a little under a fortnight ago will already be acutely aware of its merits, thanks to the subsequent wins of Raasel in the Coral Charge at Sandown and Royal Aclaim in the City Walls at York.

Considering there were only three unexposed sprinters mentioned in said piece, victory for Sense Of Duty in this Saturday’s bet365 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury will bring up a rather impressive treble for esteemed colleague Andrew Asquith.

Victory is largely expected, too, given she’s no bigger than 5/2 with the handful of firms to have already priced up the six-furlong Group Three contest, but a faint note of caution must be sounded at this point as we can’t be 100% sure she’ll actually turn up on the day.

The race seems to fit timing-wise, 21 days on from her seriously impressive Chipchase win at Newcastle, though Haggas was on record post-Gosforth Park suggesting her initial next port of call – the Summer Stakes at York – was probably off the agenda “ now she’s won a Group 3”.

Something en route to the Betfair Sprint Cup (she beat Flotus at Haydock on her penultimate outing) makes a lot of sense and perhaps it will be the Hackwood despite it being another Group Three (Tom Marquand is jocked up), but she’s now been given a Group Two option over seven furlongs at the Ebor Festival as well, so there’s that note of caution again.

I’ve got to have a dart elsewhere as the betting will be wildly different if the antepost favorite isn’t involved after Thursday’s declarations, and I’m drawn to last year’s winner HAPPY ROMANCE for the Hannon team that traditionally does exceptionally well at their local venue on Super Sprint day.

The first thing to consider is that she obviously ran in the July Cup at Newmarket just last Saturday and turning out again seven days on – let alone winning – might be too much to ask, in normal circumstances at least.

However, looking at this particular filly’s profile, I’d argue a return to the Hackwood may well have been the principal target all along and if that’s the case she looks to be coming to the boil again beautifully following a couple of highly creditable runs in Group One company at Royal Ascot and the July Festival.

And here’s what looks the crucial point: Happy Romance’s record when backing up within a fortnight of a previous run reads remarkably well, producing form figures of 15111, so rather than it being a negative she ran just last Saturday, the opposite would appear to be true in this case.

That ability to handle – and improve for – a busy schedule stems right back to her juvenile days when first gracing the track at Newmarket on June 4 2020, winning her maiden nine days later and then running a fine fifth behind Campanelle in the Queen Mary at the Royal meeting just another seven days after that.

It’s clearly something connections have looked to use to their benefit over the years and having won two of her three career starts at Newbury to boot, this event clearly suits her down to the ground.

She doesn’t have the three-year-old allowance this time around, of course, but nor does she have a Group-race winners’ penalty (Sense Of Duty gets an extra 3lb for landing the Chipchase) and the dip in class will definitely help given Happy Romance was also very competitive in top-notch sprints in the Middle East during the early parts of the year.

The Group Two second to A Case Of You, with Man Of Promise and Platinum Jubilee winner Naval Crown just behind, reads especially well, though she also ran a belter in Riyadh (Naval Crown again in arrears, along with Pogo, Happy Power and Rohaan who could oppose this Saturday).

Last weekend she ran a very solid race from what turned out to be arguably the worst of the draw (stall one) in the July Cup (replay below), ultimately splitting Commonwealth Cup one-two Perfect Power and Flaming Rib in eighth.

Watch Race Replay

Unlimited race replays of all UK & Irish racing

Access to exclusive features all for FREENo monthly subscription fee

Log in with your existing Sporting Life, Sky Bet, or Sky Games account. If you don’t have any of those, it’s completely FREE to register!

She was 1/25 that day and while hardly being missed in the market as a 7/1 shot here, the price looks more than fair given the 17 five-day entries could quite quickly become seven or eight.

The Weatherbys Super Sprint Stakes itself is not an appealing antepost race and I’ll sit tight for the final field and draw, while there’s no real urge to get stuck into the Unibet Summer Plate Handicap Chase or Unibet 15 To Go Summer Handicap Hurdle from Market Rasen either.

Published at 1655 BST on 11/07/22

More from Sporting Life

Safe gambling

We are committed in our support of safer gambling.

Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose. If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.

Further support and information can be found at and

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.