James Fanshawe’s four-year-old led the market for the six-furlong Group One after winning by seven lengths in Ireland last time.
However, Deacon Blues is set to miss out after scoping dirty following a piece of work this morning, leaving Dream Ahead as the new 7-2 favourite with the sponsor. Fanshawe said: “He worked a bit flat this morning in his final blow-out and when we scoped him, there was some mucus so he’s unlikely to run on Saturday.”
Deacon Blues won the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and was due to graduate to Group One level for the first time on Merseyside following a comfortable Group Three success at Newbury and a demolition job at the Curragh at the same level.
Fanshawe continued: “His work just lacked his usual sparkle and we have just two days now to the race, so he’s unlikely to run. There was quite a bit of mucus there.”
Deacon Blues holds entries in the Park Stakes at Doncaster on September 10 and the Renaissance Stakes at the Curragh one day later, but Fanshawe has a return to Ascot in his sights.
“We were hopeful of running well at Haydock and the next big sprint after that is the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot on October 15, so the aim is to get him back bouncing for that,” added the Newmarket handler.
July Cup hero Dream Ahead is also the 7-2 market leader with Coral while Hoof It is 4-1 second-favourite, ahead of Bated Breath and Society Rock, both 6-1. The latter is also trained by Fanshawe and could provide a degree of solace if he supplements his Golden Jubilee Stakes win.
Fanshawe added: “Society Rock is still in there. He’s fine, and the plan is to run.”
Betfred spokesman George Primarolo was left lamenting the absence of Deacon Blues in the final British Group One sprint of the year.
“It would have been fascinating to see how Deacon Blues coped with the step up to the highest level on Saturday, but he looks very unlikely to take part now which means Dream Ahead is the 7-2 favourite to land his second Group One of the season,” he said.