Australian expat Starspangledbanner finished a fading fifth behind Markab in the G1 Sprint Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday.
Markab (Green Desert) clocked 1.09.40s for 1200m which shattered the previous record held by Iktamal set way back in 1996. His only other black-type victory had been in the G3 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh in May, however, he did finish a strong second to Equiano in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
“Markab is magnificent,” trainer Henry Candy said. “He spends every day out in the paddock and is just a very happy horse. He looks as big as a bull but is remarkably clean winded.”
Candy claimed Markab is getting better as he gets older and connections will consider running him in the Prix de l’Abbaye on October 3.
Starspangledbanner (Choisir) went into the Sprint Cup as the 11-8 favourite after G1 victories in the Golden Jubilee Stakes and Darley July Cup. The Aidan O’Brien colt was headed a long way from home and finished four lengths from the winner.
The Haydock Park result was the only setback in an otherwise winning day for O’Brien and the Coolmore team.
O’Brien trained four winners at Leopardstown on Saturday highlighted by a G1 double with Cape Blanco (Galileo) in the Irish Champion Stakes and Lillie Langtry (Danehill Dancer) in the Matron Stakes.
O’Brien also won the G3 Kilternan Stakes with Await the Dawn (Giant’s Causeway) and the opening race on the Leopardstown card with Juliet Capulet (Holy Roman Emperor).