Long time ante post favourite Slade Power may have been all but ruled out, and stablemate Sole Power could miss the race as well, but the Haydock Sprint Cup looks as intriguing as ever.
And while the absence of one or both of Edward Lynam’s sprinting stars will take something away from any field, the September 6 feature contest looks a top renewal nonetheless.
The question marks surrounding a lot of the possible contenders are plain to see, but here are three things we are looking forward to finding out when the gates open on Merseyside.
Can Gordon Lord Byron land back-to-back victories?
Tom Hogan’s charge ran out a nice winner of the race last year, coming home in front of Slade Power and Hoof It 12 months ago. He faces a very different challenge this time as he seeks a double, for which he is a 7/1 shot, with just one horse from last year’s contest re-opposing.
His form figures may not look quite so impressive in this campaign, with just one victory in five runs. But to be fair to the six-year-old, injury has played its part, and a nose second to Jamesie in a Curragh Group 3 on his return from two months off looks highly encouraging.
His handler has stated he is “in as good form as last year, if not a bit better”, so a big run can be expected, but will it be enough to see off this generally young, improving field?
Will a drop back in trip spark a revival in Lucky Kristale?
Winning the Lowther Stakes and Duke of Cambridge Stakes over 6f as a two-year-old hinted that Lucky Kristale could be something special.
But a step up in trip for the 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes have certainly proved one thing, she simply doesn’t stay a mile.
With a drop back down to the distance she was so successful at as a juvenile, a price of 33/1 for her to return to winning ways on Merseyside could look huge on the day.
As the only three-year-old filly in the field, George Margarson’s charge will receive weight from all her contemporaries, and if she retains her ability could be dangerous.
Is there even more improvement in Danzeno?
Danzeno finished last season with a victory in a Class 5 Maiden at Redcar, worth just shy of £3,000 to the winner, hardly the profile of a Sprint Cup winner.
But the son of Denounce has been a revolution this year, starting with a win in a decent handicap at Newmarket in May, followed up with a win at Pattern level in the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes, an achievement trainer Mick Appleby had set his sights on at the start of the campaign.
The upcoming trainer has, in the last five seasons operated at an incredible level stakes profit of £166.73 from a £1 stake on his runners on turf, something for those writing off the chances of the current 20/1 shot to take note of.
More improvement will be needed, but he is certainly somewhat of an unknown quantity in this intriguing field.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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