The big flat meeting of the whole season at Haydock,some think of the whole year but anyone with a bit of intelligence will tell you that the big one of the year is of course the Lancashire Chase in November
The sun was out occasionally here but it was also pretty overcast with an odd drop of rain and wind which made it feel more like National Hunt conditions rather than summer flat which brought a few non runners out including making the Old Borough Cup a 14 runner handicap as opposed to a 16 runner one.
Card wise this was excellent quality,Four competitive handicaps mixed in with Three pattern races comprising of Group One,Three and Listed class.
2.05 The Betfred Mobile Be Friendly Handicap 5f,3yo+ (86-100)
A tricky looking handicap on paper with many looking for a return to form and with bigger races in the next few weeks such as the Portland at Doncaster and the Gold,Silver and Bronze Cups at Ayr (Why not have a Copper one too!) a few of these could be going their no doubt.
It was a back to form win for a Confessional who this back in 2010 and only had a win at Chester last year since,winning off 94 he was 1lb lower today and that seems to be his mark,Harrison George was only a length in second and is not finished with yet and order was firmly put in place as Jedward was right down in third last,it’s not only in music but in horse racing that Harrison George is rated much better than Jedward!
2.40 The Betfred.Com Superior Mile,1m,3yo+ Group Three.
So far the only top quality miler i have seen was David Weir in the Olympic Stadium back in July but this is a race that’s slowly increasing in Group quality and surely will be a Group Two in a few years time but with the field rated from 95 to 115 this was a nice renewal with a mixture of horses going up in class and some coming down to try and pick some black type up.
The red hot favourite in this was the Richard Hannon trained Montridge,a 3yo who has been slowly climbing the ranks during the year.
However it was a 22-1 shocker here as Top Notch Tonto from Brian Ellison took the prize to Malton under a canny ride from Dale Swift who got his first Group winner as a jockey with Anna’s Pearl who made most of the early running fading as Hay Dude who has a real liking for Haydock stayed on into second place with Gabriel who always gives his best back in third spot.
Montridge was very keen early and struggled to pick up when needed but could be better going up in trip to 10f in time while the winner is improving from handicap company but could be tricky to place after this and may find himself going to France for races unless the Cambridgeshire becomes the next port of call.
3.15 The Betfred ‘Goals Galore’ Old Borough Cup Handicap,1m6f,3yo+(0-105).
Always a competitive race which is like division two of the Ebor,quite a few well fancied horses turned up for this long distance event which was run a good pace from gates opening.
It was a decent pace set by Scatter Dice and Clowance Estate until both were headed in the last furlong or so by eventual winner Platinum who continues his fine run of form and took this prize from Clowance Estate who is very lightly raced on what was only his sixth career start and could be tapped up by a few jumping trainers as he looks the type to leap timber while the big gamble of the race Pallasator could only finish third but was running on at the finish.
Platinum will no doubt end up in the Cesarewitch and will be in with a fighting chance in the Newmarket marathon
3.50 The Betfred Sprint Cup,6f,3yo+,Group One.
The feature flat race of Haydock Park’s year and the question one everyone’s mind was could Lethal Force follow up from his Group One wins at Royal Ascot and Newmarket,this was a truly international sprint with runners from England,Scotland,Ireland and South Africa taking part in this race.
During the week Society Rock had a nasty head injury and was ruled out and Reckless Abandon was also an absentee which did take the shine off but it was still a cracking looking contest.
In the end it was Ireland’s year as Gordon Lord Byron under a Johnny Murtagh ride took the contest keeping over on the far side from Slade Power who was staying on in second but was three lengths down while Hoof It ran a P.B. for 2013 back in third and seems to be coming back to something near his best.
The eye catching run for me came from Garswood who was running on late into sixth place after a tardy start but will be suited over 7f next season and maybe Longchamp could be his next race as that seems the logical option.
Lethal Force was prominent but soon weakened and came ninth,the ground could have been against him in this,wether or not he goes to Ascot or Santa Anita is another thing.
4.25 The Betfred “Treble Odds On Lucky 15’s” Nursery Handicap,6f,2yo
An odds on turned over here as Musical Comedy owned by The Queen got floored by Kickboxer who just hung on by a neck to win with Belayer in third position.
Musical Comedy was very green in the paddock but is still improving and will be better once he grows up a bit while Kickboxer is a very tough and genuine horse and could gain another win before the seasons out.
5.00 The Betfred TV Stakes (Ascendant Stakes) 1m,2yo,Listed.
Only five went to post for this contest which had a first prize of £11363 to the winner and for an early evening/late afternoon race the crowd were treated to two great displays of riding from Richard Hughes and Gerald Mosse from France as Chief Barker and Chriselliam fought tooth and nail up the straight in the last half furlong with Chief Barker giving a much needed change of luck on the day for Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes just prevailing by a neck.
Chief Barker is on the upgrade and will be much better suited by further as a 3yo and has multiple Group One entries,he could end up either in the Royal Lodge or the Racing Post Trophy.
5.30 The Betfred Double Delight Hat Trick Heaven Handicap,1m6f,3yo (81-100)
A cracking finale here with a last race double for Richard Hughes on Nearly Caught who like a few of these was trying a new trip after winning at Kempton over 1m3f last time out.
Lemon Pearl set the early fractions until getting headed over 2f out and the winner took over despite drifting markedly to his right he kept going and stayed on stoutly to hold off Alwilda from Sir Mark Prescott’s who is a tough battle hard filly and remains open to more improvement while Renew back in third is probably better over 1m4f.
Some nice stayers in here who could be challenging in Group events next season.
A cracking afternoons racing at Haydock,racegoers treated to some nice finishes here,the start act was no doubt Gordon Lord Byron in the big sprint and the end of the Ascendant Stakes showed the quality of Richard Hughes and Gerald Mosse at their very best.
Just two more days on the flat for me for this year,In a fortnights time it is off to Catterick then Haydock again the week after.
Below,Be Friendly,First ever winner of the Sprint Cup,Winners Trophy and Old Borough Cup