Time waits for no one, but Eddie Lynam hopes Sole Power's new jockey George Baker can put a brake on it long enough for Ireland's former Horse of the Year to secure a Group One success at Haydock today.
The nine-year-old Sole Power is the oldest lining up in the 32Red Sprint Cup, while another veteran star, the 2013 race winner Gordon Lord Byron, and the three-year-old Only Mine complete the Irish challenge.
Only Mine has had 10 career starts to date but this will be Gordon Lord Byron’s fifth run in the Haydock race alone. He has also twice finished runner-up.
Sole Power has famously never won any sort of race at six furlongs. However, his trainer suspects that stepping up from the minimum trip could be to his advantage now.
“Pat [Smullen] rode him the last day in York, and he just felt five is too sharp for him these days. If the horse was a footballer you’d say he’d lost a yard of pace. And when a sprinter loses that split second you’re talking five or six lengths,” Lynam said.
“Realistically, time is catching up with him, and since the opinion of most jockeys who’ve ridden him is that five is too sharp, we’re going to let him take his chance at Haydock provided the ground is okay. If it isn’t we’ll wait for the Flying Five at the Curragh.
“He’s actually in great form with himself, a really happy horse, and we’ve been lucky when new jockeys have sat on him.
“They tell me George Baker is nearly as tall as myself, but he’s a very good rider so we’ll hope for the best.
Connections of the favourite Limato will also be keeping a close eye on ground conditions as the July Cup winner endeavours to go one better than his second to Mecca’s Angel in York’s Nunthorpe.
Baker steps in for the Sole Power mount as Pat Smullen stays at home for a full book of rides at Navan which significantly contains just one for Dermot Weld. That is Heartful in a maiden over the same course and distance at which she finished runner-up to Open House a week ago.
Heartful had just a nose in hand of Wondersnevercease at the end of that contest, and in another stride would not even have had that. Wondersnevercease was making her debut that day, and should step up for the experience.
Smullen has a Haydock Sprint Cup tie-in as he teams up with the 2014 winner G Force who runs in a competitive six-furlong conditions event. In Salutem is something of a track specialist though and can thwart him.
Velveteen is back to five furlongs for Navan’s Premier Nursery, and could prove hard to peg back.