Gordon Lord Byron defied the statistics when becoming only the second Irish-trained winner of the Betfred Sprint Cup last year and he can again defy the weight of history by securing back-to-back successes at Haydock.
Tom Hogan’s charge followed in the footsteps of 1972 hero Abergwaun when triumphing last year and now he can emulate Be Friendly, who is famously the only dual winner of the six-furlong contest back in 1966 and 1967.
The fact no horse has won the Group One twice in nearly 50 years speaks volumes about the challenge afoot, but Gordon Lord Byron is reported to be in the form of his life going into the race.
He mixed it with the best overseas during the winter, demonstrating his versatility with a Group One victory over a mile at Rosehill in Australia back in March before not being disgraced when sixth behind their top sprinter, Lankan Rupee, back over six furlongs in April.
Gordon Lord Byron never really got into the race when beaten over a mile in Hong Kong in May, while he suffered a back injury when well beaten on his European return at Royal Ascot.
Hogan took his time to get the six-year-old right again and he looked to be back on the right track when chasing home Jamesie at the Curragh last month, being beaten a nose when his trainer made no secret of him needing the run.
His draw in stall 18 is far from ideal here but his three-length defeat of Slade Power last year is clearly outstanding form in light of that horse’s subsequent achievements.
Slade Power’s stablemate Sole Power is a worthy favourite after two Group One wins this season but appears to be not quite as effective over six furlongs, leaving the way clear for Gordon Lord Byron, who goes on any ground, to steal the advantage.
ASCOT: 1.55 Almargo, 2.25 Azzir, 3.00 Shagah, 3.30 Gwafa, 4.05 Majestic Hero, 4.40 Fray, 5.15 Perfect Muse.
HAYDOCK: 2.05 Confessional, 2.40 Brendan Brackan, 3.15 Quest For More, 3.50 GORDON LORD BYRON (NAP), 4.25 Gun Case, 5.00 Celestial Path, 5.30 Mizzou.
KEMPTON: 1.45 Power Game, 2.20 Dandino, 2.55 George Cinq, 3.35 Mystery Drama, 4.10 Maftool, 4.45 Belfilo, 5.20 Compton, 5.55 Crowdmania.
NAVAN: 2.35 If Not For You, 3.10 Icy Reply, 3.45 Tico, 4.15 Grove Field, 4.50 On Impulse, 5.20 Toretto, 5.50 Steel Wave.
STRATFORD: 2.10 Mayan Flight, 2.45 Hi Note, 3.20 Conducting, 3.55 Kashmir Peak, 4.20 Kalamill, 5.05 Gracchus, 5.40 Liro.
THIRSK: 2.00 Sands Chorus, 2.30 Sekuras Girl, 3.05 Tadpole, 3.40 Ticking Katie, 4.20 Bop It, 4.55 Alans Pride, 5.25 Knife Point, 6.00 Cordial.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.45 Hardy Black, 6.20 Zed Candy Girl, 6.50 Cousin Khee, 7.20 Nolecce, 7.50 Grumpy Angel, 8.20 Swiss Cross, 8.50 Flipping, 9.20 Jumbo Prado.
DOUBLE: Gordon Lord Byron and Quest For More.