ED Walker is hoping for a sparkling performance in the Betfair Sprint Cup from Starman.
The four-year-old gave his Lambourn-based trainer a first Group 1 when bagging the July Cup at Newmarket.
And he is the red-hot favourite to secure Haydock’s £275,000 feature this afternoon, despite suffering a rare defeat in France last time out.
He ran out of steam on rain-softened ground in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, fading late to finish third.
That was just the second loss of his career, and Walker is confident he can get back on track with conditions in his favour.
Walker said: “I am quite surprised to be running him here. Historically, the ground on Sprint Cup day comes up soft and that would have been a big negative.
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“He still ran a massive race on that sort of ground at Deauville – it was proper stamina-sapping ground.
“He was bang there at the six furlong pole, but the extra half a furlong of the Maurice de Gheest just proved beyond his reach.
“So it’s a bonus that we can come and target a race like the Sprint Cup and get the ground he loves.
“He has trained great since France and came out of the race well. We’ve just freshened him up. He is a big horse but doesn’t take a huge amount of work."
Eight of Starman’s ten Sprint Cup rivals were behind him in the July Cup – and Walker reckons he should uphold the form if anywhere near his best.
He continued: “His preparation has been very straightforward and he goes there in great shape.
“He has run against and beaten most of the field already this season and it looks a great opportunity for him.
“You can never be fully confident going into a Group 1, but he appears to have plenty in his favour.
“It was a career highlight when he won the July Cup and hopefully he can win another big one.
"It was great that he was able to show what he can really do, as I’ve always believed he is a truly exceptional horse.”
Big race jock Tom Maquand added: “Starman showed the best sprinting form in Europe this year when he won the July Cup, and if he can reproduce that he’s going to be hard to beat."
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