Spencer to team up with US Ranger in Sprint Cup
JAMIE SPENCER will ride July Cup runner-up US Ranger for Aidan O'Brien in the Betfred Sprint Cup, for which a maximum field of 17 were declared on Thursday morning.
Spencer, former stable jockey at Ballydoyle, will take over from Johnny Murtagh who is set to be on duty at Leopardstown where he is expected to ride Duke Of Marmalade in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Richard Hughes will partner O'Brien's other runner Astronomer Royal.
Utmost Respect leads the home brigade and the four-year-old, along with Knot In Wood, represents trainer Richard Fahey.
Barry Hills, successful last September with Red Clubs and in 1997 with Royal Applause, saddles the former Spanish-trained Equiano, winner of the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Hills has also left in Prime Defender.
Reverence, who lifted this prestigious prize in 2006, tries again for Eric Alston and is well proven in testing conditions.
Luca Cumani's Balthazaar's Gift, who was third last year, goes for glory while completing the line-up are Al Qasi, Assertive, Asset, Lipocco, Wi Dud, Corrybrough and Strike The Deal.
The John Quinn-trained Somnus, the winner in 2003, is the only reserve. One of the 17 declared has to be named a non-runner by 10.30am Friday for the eight-year-old to take part in the race for the sixth successive year.
He was second in 2004, fourth in 2005 and 2006 and ninth 12 months ago, all when in the care of Tim Easterby.
Jeremy Noseda decided to declare Strike The Deal despite having concerns about the predicted heavy ground.
"We have declared him and will keep a close watch on the weather over the next 48 hours," said Noseda. "It is not going to be a strongly contested Group 1 sprint and as he has performed well on soft before, we thought we'd let him take his chance," the Newmarket trainer told www.jeremynoseda.com.
>>>Haydock clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright reports conditions to be very testing in Merseyside - but still raceable at present.
Much of the home straight is currently covered with waterproof covers and this is a move which is working well according to Tellwright.
"The covers appear to be doing their bit and as we are racing on freshground in the back straight, the ground was always going to be in a better state there than it is in the home straight," he said.
"The plan now is to leave the covers on as we will not abandon because the grass is too long.
"The rest of the course is obviously heavy and the forecast is not bad today, not good tomorrow and showers on Saturday," Tellwright told At The Races.
"We are being realistic and the message is one of cautious optimism."