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Sole Power has got the speed and power to lord it over Byron

By Thomas Kelly

Prolific Group winners Sole Power and Gordon Lord Byron are battling it out for favouritism for Saturday's Betfred Sprint Cup following Aidan O'Brien's decision to withdraw Due Diligence from the Haydock feature.

Along with stablemate Slade Power, Sole Power has been a tremendous money-spinner for the Eddie Lynam yard this season, but the recent York winner will only make the trip to the Liverpool venue if the ground is good.

Conditions at the track are currently good to soft, but a warm week is forecast. Were the surface to stay on the soft side, the Meath trainer could run Viztoria, which has shown her best form with some 'juice' in the ground.

Sole Power is currently 4/1 joint favourite for the Group 1 contest alongside Gordon Lord Byron, which will be bidding to win the race for a second successive year having comprehensively defeated Slade Power in the contest 12 months ago.

O'Brien has confirmed that Due Diligence will not be lining up and while he has left in both Cougar Mountain and Fountain Of Youth, it's looking like that neither will run. However, there will be a strong raiding party as Emma McCutcheon's Maarek and the Tracey Collins-trained Majestic Queen still feature among the 25 possibles.

Encouraged by an improved weather forecast, Clive Cox has supplemented recent Goodwood winner Es Que Love at a cost of £15,600, while the Harry Redknapp-owned Moviesta – which ran well when fourth to Sole Power in the Nunthorpe at York – will represent the Bryan Smart yard.

Elsewhere, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National-winning jockey Jim Culloty has been named as one of the retired riders taking part in the Clipper Logistics Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster on September 10.

Meanwhile Andrew Balding is in no rush to decide on the next target for his smart juvenile Elm Park.

The son of Phoenix Reach, who was also trained by Balding and was third in the Ladbrokes St Leger, ran out a very impressive winner of the Listed Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury on Friday.

He holds an entry in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster next month and given he races in the famous colours of Mill Reef (Kingsclere Racing Club) he is likely to develop a big following.

"We're in no rush to run him back, we'll just let the dust settle," said Balding.

"We've always thought he was pretty nice and it was nice to see him go and do it like that.

"You couldn't fail to be impressed with the way he did it, but what the form is worth I don't know.

"The manner he did it was very pleasing and we'll just see how he is. He won't be running before the end of September, anyway."

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