Sport Horse Racing

Friday 23 February 2018

Lyons' Moon to make light of Navan burden

Jamie Spencer riding Energia Davos (left) wins The Stella Artois Handicap Stakes at Ascot yesterday
Jamie Spencer riding Energia Davos (left) wins The Stella Artois Handicap Stakes at Ascot yesterday
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

It might be a case of the calm before next weekend's Longines Irish Champions Weekend storm at home, but there is still hope of an Irish triumph on the big stage at Haydock today.

When Gordon Lord Byron and Sole Power are in town, there is always hope. Gordon Lord Byron's rags-to-riches fairytale never gets old.

The €2,000 pin-hooking failure that spent a year on the sidelines after fracturing his pelvis on his Roscommon debut has now totalled earnings of €2.2m. That tally will swell to close to €2.5m should he plunder the £162,190 winner's prize in today's Sprint Cup, a Group One that he has previously won and twice been second in for Tom Hogan.

"Gordon Lord Byron worked extremely well on Tuesday and I am very happy with him," Hogan says of the globe-trotting seven-year-old that has also won Group Ones in France and Australia but disappointed slightly when third at the Curragh last time.

"He was a bit stiff after the Renaissance Stakes - he just doesn't seem to cope with the undulations at the Curragh.

"He prefers level tracks like Haydock and Deauville and I was very pleased with his third in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last month, which rates as good a performance as he has ever produced. Gordon Lord Byron is very precious to us. It looks a very competitive race, but he has never run a bad race at Haydock and, please God, he can keep that up."

As a £32,000 acquisition, Sole Power isn't quite the pauper that Gordon Lord Byron might have been expected to be. Nonetheless, he was still 100/1 when he landed his first top-level success under Gordon Lord Byron's current rider Wayne Lordan in the Nunthorpe five years ago.

He has since developed into one of the most exciting and durable sprinters in the business under Eddie Lynam's skilled tutelage, earning a massive €2.7m on his worldwide adventures. An elusive first win over six at eight years of age would be some feat here were he to pull it off for Chris Hayes.

The raiding party is completed by Due Diligence, a colt that changed hands for $190,000 as a yearling. He has yet to win more than a Listed race, but, hailing from Ballydoyle, there will always be hope for him, too.

At home, the domestic fare is run-of-the-mill. The most valuable event at Navan is a €40,000 nursery, and handicaps for two-year-olds won't get even the most ardent racing fans animated. Ger Lyons will saddle two of the nine runners. His top-weighted Blood Moon gave five pounds to Birdcage when just in front of her in third in a Naas maiden, and will need to do the same here.

Colin Keane has opted for opted for Birdcage, but Blood Moon is fancied to reassert his superiority, having been third to stablemate Bear Cheek in a Curragh Group Three last time. Over the same five-furlong trip now, he could take a bit of stopping for Gary Carroll.

Michael O'Callaghan's Emmet McNamara-ridden Moral High Ground gets the nap vote in the opening maiden. Tommy Stack's Aspar is a threat, but, if Moral High Ground comes on for his fine debut third to Smash Williams at headquarters two weeks ago, he should win.

At Dundalk tomorrow, track kingpin Mick Halford can deliver the nap with Duchessofflorence. Conor Hoban's mount is consistent, and the drop to a mile in the penultimate maiden will suit.

Irish Independent

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