Ortensia looks to stay on a roll

A total of 18 contenders go forward for the Group 1 Sprint Cup, run at Haydock Park over six furlongs on Saturday, after Monday's five-day confirmation stage.

The entries are headed by multiple Group 1 winner Ortensia, who came from near last to win the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes over five furlongs at York on August 24. She is the 11-4 favorite with sponsor Betfred.

The Australian raider, trained by Paul Messara, put in a disappointing effort in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but did better when fourth in the Group 1 July Cup before an easy success in the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on August 3.

Jockey William Buick has been aboard Ortensia in her past three, and hopes to continue the partnership. But as stable rider to John Gosden, Buick is also set to ride Nathaniel in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes later that afternoon at Leopardstown.

Since the Sprint Cup goes off about two hours and 20 minutes before the Irish Champion, there is a possibility that Buick could first travel to Haydock before flying over to Leopardstown.

"Obviously I would very much like to ride both horses," Buick said. "It is still possible I could do both, but my loyalty is to John Gosden."

Bated Breath started his season in scintillating form when breaking the five-furlong course record at Haydock Park in the Group 2 Temple Stakes on May 26, before running Hong Kong raider Little Bridge to a neck in the King's Stand.

Roger Charlton's charge was beaten a nose by Dream Ahead in last year's renewal and is still chasing his first victory at the top level. Charlton may also saddle Genki, who finished fourth last year.

Also among the confirmations is Richard Fahey's Mayson, who stormed to a five-length victory in the July Cup on July 14, giving his trainer and rider Paul Hanagan their first British Group 1 victory. Fahey could also be represented by listed scorer Majestic Myles.

The sole French-trained entry is Wizz Kid, who chased home Moonlight Cloud in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on August 5 after a disappointing performance in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Prior to that, she had recorded a comfortable 1 3/4-length success in the Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene over five furlongs at Chantilly in May. Betfred makes the four-year-old filly a 14-1 chance.

"At the moment, subject to confirmation from Robert Collet [trainer], the intention is to run Wizz Kid in the Betfred Sprint Cup," said John O'Connor, manager to owner Maeve Mahony.

"She is in good form. She has spent the month up in Deauville and ran very well when second to Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. She is now back at her base in Chantilly.

"She was disappointing at Royal Ascot and that is the only time we have been disappointed with her because she is normally very consistent. We don't know why exactly, but she didn't run her race [in the King's Stand Stakes].

"Her run at Deauville was good and she was a comfortable second. I think Moonlight Cloud quickened four lengths clear and got first run on us and although Wizz Kid didn't make that much ground up on her, it was still a very good run.

"At her best, Moonlight Cloud is a very good filly.

"Wizz Kid was very impressive earlier in the season at Chantilly -- it was her second success in the Prix du Gros-Chene. I'm not too sure why that race suits her so well but it's probably because they go quick up front and she gets her chance to come home well.

"She has form at six furlongs when she was second in the British Champions Sprint at Ascot last year and that form would put her bang there on Saturday.

"We are hopeful she still has some more to come and Robert [Collet] feels she is still maturing and developing.

"Soft ground is not essential but she handles it."

Society Rock could bid for his first success since capturing the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last season, while David Barron could be represented by Hitchens, who won the listed Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket on August 25.

Strong Suit could line up for trainer Richard Hannon after finishing second in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes on August 18,

"He's on course to run and I'm pleased to see conditions are drying out for him," Qatar Racing's David Redvers said. "We're looking forward to it."

Dual Group 1 veteran Kingsgate Native could have his first start for Robert Cowell.

Soul remains engaged for Godolphin and could look to bounce back from a disappointing performance in the Hungerford Stakes, while Gordon Lord Byron goes forward for Irish handler Tom Hogan after a listed victory at York on August 25.

Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien could saddle Reply, who finished last in the July Cup, while fellow Irish handler David Marnane could send over Dandy Boy, who landed the Wokingham Handicap in great fashion at Royal Ascot in June.

Jim Goldie has left in Hawkeyethenoo, who bagged another big handicap when taking the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood on August 4, while Mark Johnston could saddle progressive three-year-old Es Que Love. The entries are completed by Brian Meehan's Elusivity and Confessional.

The going at Haydock Park was listed as good Monday.

"We had one millimeter of rain over the weekend, which was nothing of note, and the going is currently good," Clerk of the Course Kirkland Tellwright reported Monday.

"The forecast is for a warm and dry week. There is an outside chance of a light shower, but we are basically set for a dry week."