Unlike last week it was much nicer weather this afternoon at Haydock as the sun blessed us with its presence so much so that the Panama made it’s first appearance of the season having spent a long time in hibernation.
Two Group Three races,two listed and some fiercely tricky handicaps made for an informative card and with Epsom and Royal Ascot on the horizon the emphasis was on quality as opposes to quantity.
Below,Channel Four recording the opening on the course.
1.30 haydock-park.co.uk Handicap,Class 4,1m,4yo+ (0-80)
It was a 1-2 for the older brigade here as the 8yo Dubai Hills comfortably took the spoils four lengths ahead of the evergreen 10yo Extraterrestrial,from the back of the pack Bob stayed on for third.
This was a fair race but nothing more,Dubai Hills has won most of his races at Southwell so it was a bit of a surprise to see him win on the green stuff.
2.05 Pinnacle Stakes,Group 3,1m4f,4yo+ Fillies and Mares.
A fascinating renewal here of this Group race with plenty unexposed fillies in it from the top stables in the country chasing black type and getting some good value plus a nice winners prize of £28073 which will be handy for paying the training bills.
The field went a fair pace as the left the stalls,Special Meaning and Astonishing set the fractions until they got overtaken by the pelaton with just under 2f to go, from here the John Gosden pair of Sultanina and Freedom’s Light took over and had a real ding dong battle in the last furlong with Silk Sari and Quiz Mistress staying on, in the end.
The finish was amazing as Sultanina and William Buick just got her head in front on the line from stable mate Freedom’s Light by a short head, only her second start in her life she battled on tenaciously and is clearly going the right way,She could be back here in July for the Lancashire Oaks which would be the best option
Special Meaning was an unlucky loser but she is all heart and deserves a big prize while Silk Sari who I nominated for this race after a win at Doncaster stayed on and is still improving so keep an eye on her still.
Astonishing and Cubanita ran poor but they can be forgiven for that.
2.40 Timeform Jury Stakes (John O’Gaunt) Group 3,7f,4yo+
Just like the first race it was another veteran trained by David O’Meara in the popular 8yo Penitent who in a pulsating finish held off the late challenge from the Spring Trophy winner of three weeks ago over CD Breton Rock,these two were a couple of lengths ahead of Eton Forever who won the 2013 Spring Trophy and filling the fourth spot was favourite Garswood.
This was Penitents eleventh career win and showed he is not finished with yet,he has ran poor in his first three runs this season but he battled as he always does and although he does have an entry at Epsom on Friday he could be saved for a sporting chance in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
For many the big disappointment was Garswood,he ran in races much better than this last season but so far he has looked a tricky horse to place,he may be better back at 1m as no doubt the owners want him to become a decent stallion.
3.15 Winning Express Achilles Stakes,Listed,5f,3yo+
A nice little contest of runners to highly rated to run in the big handicaps but also just a little short to take part in the big group events, still it was a useful race.
This year saw a Kieren Fallon master class as he got Steps to just lead when it matters to get the better of Eton Rifles by a neck, the one horse who caught my eye in the paddock Da’quonde stayed on for third.
Favourite Swan Song missed the break which cost her but she was prominent until fading in the last two furlongs,the well fancied York Glory needs 6f and this will have sharpened him up for a crack at Royal Ascot,probably the Wokingham.
A nice win for the popular sprinter Steps,he is an out and out 5f horse,he has entries in next Saturdays Epsom Dash as well as the Kings Stand.
Eton Rifles is better at 6f,he wins his races in France nowadays which will be where he could end up going after this.
3.50 New Timeform Flags Sandy Lane Stakes,Listed,6f,3yo
A couple of unexposed sorts in this with a few who have found their level.
The short priced favourite for this was Parbold who was third in last seasons Gimcrack,he travelled well and was up with the pace until found for speed as eventual victor Aeolus under Richard Huges who was in front of Parbold in the Free Handicap at Newmarket took this in the style of an improving horse and it’s clear that sprinting is now his forte, The Jersey at Royal Ascot would be the obvious choice and it would be no shock should he find extra improvement to be back here in September for the Sprint Cup.
Betimes was second and ran here after being 15 from 17 in the 1000 Guineas,only her third start it’s possible that 7f will see her in an even better light,Shamshon was giving the whole field 3lb and Betimes 7lb, this extra furlong proved to far for Shamshon and a drop back to 5f will be just what’s needed.
4.25 Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Handicap,Class 4,6f,3yo,(0-85)
A bloodless success for short priced favourite Lightning Moon who came into this off the back of a maiden win at Salisbury, going in here of 82 he will be put up to 90 or there abouts after this, the big 6f race at York in a fortnight could be the next port of call,still an entire no doubt some black type will be important for the owner.
Lightning Moon was six lengths ahead from Pennine Warrior who ran on well,it’s possible 7f will suit him better,Red Lady came third,she is still tricky to place but is probably happier in smaller fields.
5.00 Download New RacingUK iPad App Handicap,Class 4,1m2f,3yo,(0-80)
A field of 3yo who are slowly coming to hand and top weight Farquhar who has been disappointing since his maiden win at Nottingham last October bounced back under Frankie Dettori,held up off the pace he made smooth headway down the straight and led inside the last furlong before going away easily to beat Early Morning by four lengths.
This Peter Chapple-Hyam trained horse is finally coming to hand,Royal Ascot may beckon but it’s possible France could be on the agenda for him in some way,Early Morning who he beat is still a maiden and was making his first start in a handicap,he just found one too good,Classical Art a length behind in third looked much better up in trip today and could be even better upped to 1m4f in time.
Of the other beaten horses Clear Spell was fourth,trained by Alistair Whillans he will be going over timber at some point so keep an eye on those juvenile hurdles at Kelso and Perth in the early autumn for him.
A good afternoons racing then,the busy summer season is now well underway, next Saturday I shall be spending Derby Day on the Town Moor at Doncaster before a nice break of a few weeks then the next review after that will be a Sunday of athletics in Birmingham.
Until next weekend thank you for reading and keep RT and spreading the word.