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.”
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.”