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Gustavus ready to bid for Champions Sprint gold

Joseph Murphy reports Gustavus Weston to be in fine shape ahead of the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The five-year-old is already a Group Three and Group Two winner, and performed respectably on his first try at the top level when sixth to Romantic Proposal in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh last month.

Murphy feels the step back up to six furlongs on autumn ground will bring out the best in Gustavus Weston.

“He’s going well. The ground and distance should suit him. He’s in good form. We’ve freshened him up for the race and hopefully he can do himself justice,” said the County Tipperary trainer.

“Six furlongs is his ideal trip with a bit of juice in the ground.

“With Starman out, and some of the horses that ran in France not going, it looks an open race. We expect him to run a good race.”

Gustavus Weston needs rain for Sprint Cup bid

Ground conditions will dictate whether Gustavus Weston bids to become a rare Irish-trained winner of the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Tom Hogan’s stable stalwart Gordon Lord Byron was the first Irish raider to land the Group One contest since Abergwaun 41 years earlier when striking gold in 2013 – and the race has been dominated by the British ever since.

Gustavus Weston is a 9-1 shot with the race sponsors for Saturday’s showpiece, having won both the Group Two Greenlands Stakes and the Group Three Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh this season.

But trainer Joe Murphy has warned he will line up on Merseyside only if there is some ease underfoot.

He said: “We won’t be running if there is any ‘firm’ in the ground.

“They’re watering the inside track and they’re not watering the straight track. We just wouldn’t want it firm – and my English peers tell me that when Haydock dries out, it dries out very quick.

“This has been the plan, and we’re delighted with the horse.

“I would love to go, but we would want minimum good ground.”

Trainer Joe Murphy
Trainer Joe Murphy (PA)

Should connections ultimately decide against bidding for Sprint Cup glory, Gustavus Weston is likely to be rerouted to the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday week.

“We have the five-furlong race in the Curragh and we’re supposed to get plenty of rain during the week,” Murphy added.

“The Curragh will always be good because of the watering system, and I’ve no problem with good ground.

“If we thought the rain was coming we’d gamble and bring him over (to Haydock), but at the moment they tell me the rain isn’t coming until Sunday.

“We’re monitoring the weather and we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Next stop Haydock for Curragh winner Gustavus Weston

Gustavus Weston made virtually all to reclaim his title in the Rathasker Stud Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh.

Joe Murphy’s charge won the six-furlong event in 2019 and was sent off a 7-2 chance this time in the hands of Gary Carroll, with British raider Light Refrain the 6-4 favourite.

Gustavus Weston was sharply away for Carroll and he was happy to settle on the front end with the five-year-old, who got into a nice rhythm in the early exchanges before pushing on for the finish.

Power Under Me was on his heels, but Gustavus Weston keep going all the way to the line, recording a two-and-a-quarter-length win, with A Case Of You beaten a nose in third.

Light Refrain never looked like challenging on the outside, eventually finishing fifth.

Murphy’s sights are now firmly set on next month’s Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock, for which Gustavus Weston is an unchanged 12-1 shot with the sponsors.

He said: “That’s a stepping stone to Haydock on September 4. Then we might come back for the Flying Five here and maybe the Abbaye.

“That was a very good performance and the time was good.

“We’ve found the key to him. He’s a more relaxed horse now and he’s stronger. He keeps on improving all the time.

“It’s amazing, since we’ve put him into a big stable on his own – he has a whole barn to himself – he’s just thrived. It’s amazing how little things like that can make a difference.

“That’s the thing with horses, whether they can sing or not, you have to get the voice out.

“We have to make him sing and he’s giving us memories that will last a lifetime.”

Haydock on radar for Gustavus Weston

Joe Murphy is considering a tilt at the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock with stable star Gustavus Weston.

A surprise winner of the Group Two Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh in May, the five-year-old proved that performance was no fluke when a clear second to Mooneista in last weekend’s Sapphire Stakes over five furlongs.

Murphy believes his charge is better suited to the longer sprint distance of six furlongs and hopes to have a crack at Group One glory on Merseyside in September, with a potential bid to regain his title in the Phoenix Sprint also under consideration en route.

“I was very pleased with him in the Sapphire,” said the

He followed up what he did the first day, which was great,” said the County Tipperary trainer.

“We’ll probably go to the Sprint Cup in Haydock. Before that he could run in the Phoenix Sprint, where he’d have to carry 10 stone, with it being a Group Three.

“That race is on August 8, which is perfect before going to Haydock (on September 4).

“He’s consistent and he’s proved he could potentially be pretty smart. Time will tell, but it’s nice to have a horse of that calibre.”

Gustavus Weston surprises Greenlands rivals

Gustavus Weston bounced back from a disappointing run six days ago to dent some tall reputations in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh.

Hollie Doyle had made the trip to Ireland to partner her British Champions Sprint winner Glen Shiel and Joseph O’Brien’s Speak In Colours has some top-class form to his name, while Sonaiyla changed hands for 900,000 guineas in December.

None of them had an answer to Joe Murphy’s five-year-old, however, who returned as a 14-1 winner.

Doyle adopted her usual position on Glen Shiel at the head of affairs and was joined by Make A Challenge as the pair went toe to toe for the first four furlongs.

As Glen Shiel dropped away, noted mud-lover Make A Challenge was left in front, but Gary Carroll began to get Gustavus Weston on a roll.

A Group Three winner back in 2019, he had been winless since and finished only sixth behind Logo Hunter at Naas last week.

He went on to win by three-quarters of a length with Make A Challenge returning to something like his best in second, with Sonaiyla running on for third.

“That was his Derby. He won here before and we always thought he liked the Curragh,” said Murphy.

“We thought he needed the race last week and that put him dead on for this one.

“He won well and I’m delighted the way Gary rode him, it was a good result.

“I’d have been happy with a place, we’re not greedy! He got him switched off which helped, he’s inclined to be a bit strong, but he switched off today and that was the key to him.”