O’Briens set to fly the Irish Flag in the Haydock Sprint Cup

Limerick celebrates first Grade One race ever run In Munster

Speak In Colours (centre), ridden by Donnacha O’Brien, wins the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh in August. Photograph: Inpho

Gordon Lord Byron (2013) is the only Irish-trained horse to win the Haydock Sprint Cup in the last 45 years although both Aidan and Joseph O’Brien look set to try to change that trend this Saturday.

Aidan O’Brien has left a handful of entries in the six-furlong Group One including both Sioux Nation and Gustav Klimt.

However bookmaker reaction after Monday’s five-day stage was to rate his son’s hope, the Curragh Group Three-winner, Speak In Colours, as the best chance of an Irish winner.

He features among the outsiders though at 16-1 in a market dominated by last year's winner Harry Angel who is set to make his first appearance since picking up an injury at Royal Ascot.


James Garfield, runner up in last month’s Prix Maurice de Gheest, has been supplemented into the race alongside Sir Dancealot.

Other proven Group One winners set to line up at Haydock are The Tin Man and Limato.

In jump racing news Limerick will host the first ever Grade One race run in Munster when the newly-promoted Greenmount Park Novice Chase is run on St Stephens Day.

The two-and-a-half mile event has been won in recent years by star performers such as Sir Des Champs, Gilgamboa and Outlander.

The race will be the feature event of Limerick’s four-day Christmas festival and will have a boosted prizefund of €90,000.

“Over 20 years ago the board of directors had the foresight to develop a new Grade one facility at Greenmount Park and now we will have Grade One racing to match,” said the Limerick manager Patrick O’Callaghan.

Aidan O’Brien has five runners set to start at Naas on Tuesday although the champion trainer could also bring US Navy Flag for a racecourse gallop ahead of the colt going into quarantine.

The July Cup winner, and last year’s European champion two year old, is being prepared for a crack at next month’s $13 million Everest Sprint in Sydney.

O’Brien runs two in the juvenile maiden and the presence of his son Donnacha on All The Kings Men suggests he could be the one to be on.

O’Brien Jnr, the season’s leading jockey, has three other rides for his father and they include the challenge of trying to secure a hugely valuable winning bracket for Minding’s sister, Conquest.

The 62-rated filly has had six starts to date but tries a mile and a half for the first time and dons first-time cheek-pieces in the final handicap.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column