Gustavus Weston is on course to try to become the second Irish-trained winner of Haydock's Betfair Sprint Cup in almost half a century this Saturday.
The in-form five year old is the sole Irish hope among 14 entries left in the Group One prize after Monday’s acceptance stage.
Bookmakers immediately installed the July Cup winner Starman as favourite with Gustavus Weston a general 10-1 shot to give his veteran trainer Joe Murphy a first Group One success.
Gordon Lord Byron – in 2013 – is the only Irish-trained horse to have won the six furlong feature since Vincent O’Brien’s Abergwaun was successful in 1972.
Murphy began training near Fethard five years after that and has enjoyed regular black-type success, including the 2007 Park Express Stakes with Ardbrae Lady.
She had finished runner-up at 50-1 in the previous year’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.
Gustavus Weston has never run at the top level in his 17-race career but enjoyed Group Two success in May when landing the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh.
He was also successful in the Phoenix Stakes at HQ on his last start.
English trainer Clive Cox won the Sprint Cup in 2017 with Harry Angel and has left in two potential starters this time, Supremacy and Nando Parrado.
“The drier autumn has given us a chance to include Supremacy while Nando Parrado ran a blinder at Newbury in the Hungerford and this is an opportunity to run him back over six furlongs,” Cox reported.
“Supremacy is showing me the right signs and with the dry forecast we’re keen to have a look. We will assess the situation as the week goes by,” he added.
In other news, US trainer Wes Ward is readying his Nunthorpe Stakes flop Golden Pal for a tilt at the Breeders Cup at Del Mar in November.
Golden Pal was hugely fancied at York earlier this month but quickly faded after cutting out the early pace under Frankie Dettori.
“We will make a decision on whether we run him in the Woodford here at Keeneland [October 8th] and then aim for the Breeders Cup. I think that will be the plan.
“Hopefully he run right here on his home track and he’ll bounce forward right into the Breeders Cup and show what he is,” said Ward of the Coolmore Stud -owned star.