SUPER-SUB Sole Power bids to cap an amazing campaign by adding the Betfred Sprint Cup to his impressive record at Haydock today.
The seven-year-old has dominated the five-furlong division this season, mopping up the King’s Stand and the Nunthorpe, but gets a great chance to notch a Group One over six furlongs as his stablemate Slade Power, winner of the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup, has been forced to miss the race.
Sole Power has yet to win over six furlongs, although he has run creditably in his few efforts at the trip, notably when second in the Hong Kong Sprint behind Lord Kanaloa in December.
The key to Sole Power staying the extra furlong will be whether he settles and, while trainer Eddie Lynam accepts he is better over the minimum distance, he does believe he can stay the six.
“The ground seems OK. He’s drawn in the middle [nine], which doesn’t seem a bad draw, and he’s in good form. We’re hopeful of the best,” said the County Meath handler, who has won all four Group One sprints run in Britain this season with his star duo.
“He needs to settle and you wouldn’t need to be too bright to realise he’s probably better over five, but I believe he’ll get six and we’re going to let him take his chance as he seems in very good form. It’s the last Group One sprint over in England, so we’re having a shot at it.”
Paddy Power, son of Sole Power’s owner Sabena Power, is also of the opinion that six furlongs is within his compass. He said: “It’s a shame Slade Power couldn’t make it, but we’ll let him do his talking in Australia and the fastest horse in the world isn’t a bad super-sub. Some pundits reckon he’s better over five furlongs, but he would have won the Hong Kong Sprint over six if he hadn’t met a monster horse [Lord Kanaloa].”
Extortionist was only half a length behind Sole Power when third in the Nunthorpe and, like the winner, he has yet to score over six furlongs.
“He’s very well. We’d always wondered about going six with him and Ryan [Moore] came back after the Nunthorpe saying we definitely want to go six and now’s the time,” said his trainer Olly Stevens.
“He didn’t look out of place in that company last time. We’re very happy going there, but of course it will be a tough race, it’s a Group One. The more the ground dries up the better. He’s a horse that needs a bit of luck in running as he comes from behind. He’s not had that luck in his last couple of runs. Hopefully his luck will change and we’re very excited about running.”
Gordon Lord Byron is out to become only the second horse to win the race twice following the exploits of Be Friendly, who won the first two runnings of the Haydock Group One in 1966 and 1967.
Trainer Tom Hogan reports the globetrotting six-year-old to be 100 per cent again after being under-par in the summer.
“He suffered a bit of a back injury at Royal Ascot which he had to be medicated for, and he also had some issues with his feet, but they are all sorted now,” Hogan said. “He is ready for a winter campaign in some far-flung places and Saturday is his first task. He has loads of international invites but we will take a decision about where he goes after Saturday – he should just be reaching his peak now at the age of six.
“In terms of the ground, the only thing he can’t manage is heavy. He floats on fast ground and he ran one of the best races of his life on firm when he was second in this race two years ago in an extremely fast time, despite being drawn on the wrong side where there was no pace.
“He has also twice run well in Hong Kong on very fast ground, which he loved, so firm ground is not an issue.
“Last year I was told that he was the first Irish winner for 40 years, so he is used to making history and, hopefully, we can make a bit more on Saturday.”