The Irish sprinters Sole Power and Slade Power have so totally dominated the British speed scene this summer that many may feel it inevitable that Eddie Lynam, who trains both, will complete a Group One clean sweep in Saturday’s Sprint Cup at Haydock.
It is not, however, quite that simple. It might have been, had the six-furlong champion Slade Power turned up instead of being held back for a southern hemisphere target. But instead Lynam is relying on Sole Power, a five-furlong specialist who has yet to win over Saturday’s distance in seven attempts.
Much is being made of Sole Power’s new partnership with Richard Hughes, which has yielded two wins in two starts, and how the ice-cool champion jockey may be able to nurse the old pro to a first victory at the trip.
But it is a big ask. Sole Power’s former riders Pat Smullen and Johnny Murtagh, both masters of their profession, never managed it in five goes between them; Murtagh apparently begged Lynam to give Sole Power another try over the longer distance in last year’s July Cup, but it was yet another failure and connections seemed then to accept once and for all that six-furlong tests were not for him.
Sole Power or not – and at least the quickly drying ground is in his favour – today’s big prize may still be bound for Ireland. The Wokingham Handicap winner Baccarat could be the surprise packet of a strong home contingent, but Gordon Lord Byron, who brushed aside Slade Power in last year’s Sprint Cup after going close in 2012, is unlikely to let go of his crown easily, while Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old Cougar Mountain is also a serious player.
Gordon Lord Byron (3.50 Haydock) is returning to top form at just the right time and looks the logical choice, even though drawn on a wing, but Cougar Mountain, not beaten far by Slade Power and Sole Power on only his second and third career starts respectively, is quite likely a champion of the future.
The recent below-par efforts of Captain Cat (2.40 Haydock), Heavy Metal (1.55 Ascot) and Trip To Paris (3.30 Ascot) are best forgiven for various reasons and they can all bounce back.
The globetrotting money-spinner Red Cadeaux (2.20 Kempton) cut his teeth on all-weather surfaces and he has the perfect opportunity to sign off on home soil with a victory in the September Stakes before he heads off to Australia for a fourth crack at the Melbourne Cup.
For information regarding the QIPCO British Champions Series visit britishchampionsseries.comReuse content