Lynam's Sole to power up for welcome run on home turf
Sole Power will grace an Irish racecourse for a first time since 2011 after Eddie Lynam confirmed that he will run at the Curragh tomorrow rather than go to Haydock.
The development is a real boon for the Tattersalls 2,000 Guineas card, on which Aidan O'Brien's smooth Newmarket winner Gleneagles will face 10 others when he bids for a Classic double in the €300,000 marquee event.
Sole Power is one of the world's leading five-furlong speedsters, but the lack of a domestic Group One sprint and his preference for fast ground have compelled Lynam to campaign him exclusively beyond these shores of late.
An eight-year-old son of Kyllachy, he has triumphed in five Group Ones, twice in both the Nunthorpe and King's Stand Stakes and most recently in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in March.
His only two Irish wins came on the all-weather at Dundalk in 2009 and 2010, and he was last seen in competitive action on an Irish racecourse when finishing second to Amore Propre in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh in August 2011.
Along with tomorrow's six-furlong Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes, the Flying Five is one of three Curragh sprints that are being upgraded to Group Two status this year as a part of a process that it is hoped will eventually culminate in an Irish Group One sprint being implemented.
With conditions at headquarters drying out to good to yielding and little rain forecast, Lynam was satisfied to swerve Haydock's Temple Stakes, a five-furlong contest that Sole Power won in 2011 and was only denied a fourth successive appearance in last year by soft ground.
"The ground at the Curragh is good to yielding and I am happy with that," he said of the Sabena Power-owned gelding, adding that all concerned are keen to see the horse run in Ireland.
Tom Hogan's globe-trotting triple Group One winner Gordon Lord Byron is also an intended Greenlands starter and Evanna McCutcheon's Maarek and Kevin Ryan's Astaire are other Group One winners engaged, along with Dermot Weld's Jersey Stakes hero Mustajeeb, so it has the potential to serve up a real treat.
Tommy Stack's Great Minds will tackle the Temple under Jamie Spencer, who will also steer Lynam's Gathering Power in a Listed race at the Liverpool track. Richard Hughes will resume his lucrative association with Sole Power at the Curragh, where he is due to ride the Guineas third Ivawood for Richard Hannon in the big race.
All the leading contenders have been declared for the mile Classic, with Ryan Moore set to be reunited with the odds-on Gleneagles, which will be joined in the line-up by O'Brien's Smuggler's Cove and The Warrior.
Roger Varian and James Doyle team up for the Dewhurst hero Belardo and Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen for Tombelaine, while Ger Lyons saddles Convergence and Endless Drama.
On Sunday, like Sole Power, The Grey Gatsby will have its first run since Dubai World Cup night on March 28. The classy French Derby and Irish Champion Stakes victor will start favourite for the Tattersalls Gold Cup under Moore, and his Tipperary-born trainer Kevin Ryan is also happy with the likely underfoot conditions.
"The ground is coming in his favour and it could be good on Sunday, which would be ideal," the Yorkshire-based Golden native said. "I wouldn't even worry about good to soft. What he doesn't want is very soft ground."
Similarly, Mick Halford is eagerly looking forward to the reappearance of Raydara in what is shaping up to be a cracking edition of the 1,000 Guineas.
"We've been waiting all winter to run her, so we're nearly there," Halford said yesterday of the Aga Khan's filly, which beat the Newmarket runner-up Lucida at the Curragh in the autumn.
"She had a breeze on the Curragh early this morning and she was in good form. I walked a couple of furlongs of it and it's drying up nicely. Her form is there; it's the 1,000 Guineas and there are plenty of dangers, but she's in good form."
Meanwhile, Mick Winters hopes to have Rebel Fitz ready for the Listowel Flat race that he won last year come September. Last year's Powers Gold Cup winner hasn't run since scoring over hurdles at Tipperary in October.