Improved Lord Byron aims for difficult repeat in Group One at Haydock
Last year's winner, Gordon Lord Byron, may well be even better than when beating Slade Power by three lengths in lthe 2013 Haydock Sprint Cup.
That's according to his trainer, Tom Hogan, who goes in search of more Group One glory with his globe-trotting six-year-old tomorrow afternoon.
Hogan was the first Irish trainer since Vincent O'Brien in 1972 to win the Haydock Sprint Cup and now he'll be bid to saddle the first back-to-back winner of the race since Be Friendly in 1966 and 1967.
"His work rider even thinks that he has got better," Hogan said yesterday. "Gordon Lord Byron is in great form. He needed the run (at the Curragh) and it has really brought him on.
"He has done very well since and would be somewhere around the same condition as he was before he won this race last year."
Hogan went a brave route with Gordon Lord Byron over the winter months, taking him to Australia where he won a Group One over a mile back in March.
If he is to return to winning ways tomorrow afternoon he'll have to overcome the likely favourite and leading sprinter Sole Power who is stepping up to six furlongs from the five over which he has won three-times this season.
Sole Power is looking to give Eddie Lynam a clean sweep of Group One sprints this season and bookmaker Paddy Power, the son of owner Sabena Power, is, unsurprisingly, confident.
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."
In typically condident style, Power concluded: "I'm not saying he'll definitely win at Haydock, but he won't be beaten!
"Especially as having Hughsie on board is a match truly made in heaven."
A strong Irish challenge for the feature race of the weekend also features Maarek and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Cougar Mountain who has always been highly regarded in Ballydoyle towers despite being lightly raced.
Sole Power could prove to be a super-sub for Lynam and the Powers but with Slade Power missing his regular jockey Wayne Lordan now rides Gordon Lord Byron and what a twist to the story that could prove to be.