Sunshine greeted the North West on what was a massive weekend for sports fans all over.
A real mix of footballs first pre season friendlies,The British Grand Prix,Wimbledon finals,World Cup matches and not forgetting Le Tour De Yorkshire as 198 people decided to cycle from Leeds to Paris in three weeks although you can do it by train in around five to six hours with a change in London!
For a purist of the turf though it was back to horse racing as Haydock’s oldest race The Old Newton Cup had it’s 217th running.
Seven races this afternoon on ground which was soft to begin with but then went good to soft after the first race, the change in conditions due to rain and watering during the week resulted in eighteen horses being taken out due to unsuitable ground.
1.45 Casino At bet365.com Handicap,Class 2,5f,3yo,(0-85)
A useful sprint handicap here and the result was the hat trick for War Spirit under Sean Levey who blog readers may remember won on him at Doncaster on Derby Day,after following up with a win at Newmarket he got the third on the bounce here fairly comfortably and has an entry at Newmarket on Thursday, he is still ahead of his mark of 77 and is thriving over this shorter trip.
Distant Pass was the runner up,this was his best run of the season and has ability,Captain Myles back in third is better over 6f.
2.20 bet365.com Conditions Stakes,Class 2,6f,3yo+
A confidence boost here for the David Elsworth trained Justice Day under Graham Lee who put in a professional performance to gain a deserved win after being given hard tasks in races such as the Temple Stakes and the Kings Stand at Royal Ascot, He holds an entry in next Saturdays July Cup at Newmarket but that would be a hard task, maybe an Ayr Gold Cup would be more tangible.
Of the placed horses one which was making his British debut was Complicate from Saeed Bin Surror, this 5yo was formerly trained by Peter Snowden in Australia and has wins at listed level, a huge stamp of a horse he looked more like a jumper than sprinter,placed in various races in Dubai I would not be shocked should he turn out be a bit better than this initial race in Britain.
2.55 bet365.com Lancashire Oaks,Group Two,1m4f,3yo+ Fillies and Mares.
An excellent renewal of this race first run at the old Manchester racecourse which is now part of Salford University and has been based at Haydock since 1965 apart from the 2007 race which took part at Newmarket and here’s another sad fact for you,Newmarket as also held the Yorkshire Oaks when the Ebor meeting got abandoned due to heavy rain.
A lot of top class middle distance fillies and mares here including the 2013 Oaks winner Talent pictured below.
From the start the pace was set by Irish raider We’ll Go Walking under Shane Kelly and coming down the straight she was starting to be driven after three furlongs out until the pelaton took over in the last furlong for a thrilling finish and trainer John Gosden got a Lanky Oaks 1-2 as Pomology gave May’s Pinnacle Stakes winner Sultanina a 2.5 length beating with Talent back in third and We’ll Go Walking fourth.
Pomology was lightly raced last year but won all her three starts including a Group Three in Deauville,it’s definitely possible that the first three will all take each other on again in the Yorkshire Oaks next month,if that’s the case it will be race to savour, We’ll Go Walking will be better back down in trip to 1m2f.
Sultanina ran a wonderful race in defeat for what was only her third start while Talent in third has yet to follow up last years Oaks win,for me races like the Park Hill or Irish St Leger could be more viable targets for her.
Their was a few disappointments in the race, most notably Seal Of Approval who won the Fillies and Mares race last year on Champions Day,she was never travelling at all in the race.
3.30 bet365 Old Newton Cup,Class 2,1m4f,4yo+
An open handicap with the top weight being Fattsota off 103.
It was a case of horses for courses here as the Marco Botti trained and Andrea Atzeni ridden De Riguer who is 2/2 before the start and made it 3/3 as he proved that missing last weeks Northumberland Plate was the best thing to do, he likes a battle and certainly got that as he just clung on by a neck to fend off Pallasator who was third in last seasons Old Borough Cup.
The Ebor should be next for the top two, Pallasator certainly showed as if he will come on for the race,it was his seasonal debut here and this 5yo will no doubt be on many jumps trainers shortlist should he end up at the sales
Magic Hurricane who won over CD last month ran a cracker in third spot,he is still improving and like favourite Havana Cooler he will probably end up in the Ebor.
Buthelezi in his first start for Brian Ellison ran well in 8th spot,maybe a back end race like the November at Doncaster would be a realistic target before going back over jumps in the winter.
4.05 bet365.com Nursery Handicap Stakes,Class 3,7f,2yo.
Not a strong race probably here, short priced favourite Muqaawel and the top weight was never going and when asked to quicken could not find anything and was one paced.
As for the win that went to trainer Richard Hannon who got a double up after War Sprit in the first as Divine Law under Sean Levey who was up in trip by a furlong and having his first run in a handicap just got up in time to deny 20-1 outsider Dragline by a neck.
Muqaawel came third but should be better than this,maybe a novice event somewhere will be ideal.
4.40 bet365 Handicap Stakes,Class 2,7f,3yo+,(0-105)
An interesting race,only five went to post chasing a first prize of £12,660 here and it produced a quality finish.
Heavy Metal hit the all the right notes her,Joe Fanning had a bit of work to do in the last quarter mile after being denied a clear run,he switched in the last furlong and picked up well enough to get this third win of the season,this was much better after coming last over 1m at Newcastle last week.
Dark Emerald was half a length second,this 4yo has been in good form this season with win at Newmarket and Lingfield to his name,he is an out and out 7f specialist.
5.15 bet365.com Handicap Stakes,Class 2,3yo,1m2f 95yds,(0-100)
A simple task here for last months Doncaster winner Roseburg,always travelling he led 1f out and was two lengths ahead of Al Busayyir and gave Andrea Atzeni a double on the day.
Roseburg is slowly developing into a talented performer and going in here off 94 he will end up going into pattern company,Goodwood would be the next logical choice or next months Rose of Lancaster back at Haydock over CD.
Al Busayyir was a lot happier here than at Epsom last time out and is not finished with just yet,Master Of The World back in third has been tricky to place so far this season so small field races are his best option,Libran back in fourth is held off his current mark of 85 and last to finish Fire Fighting has really had a really disappointing 2014 so far.
A nice afternoon of racing then,the weather kept well on this huge weekend of sport.
The Lancashire Oaks was an excellent race and the form looks top class for it,surely it won’t be long before it gets moved up to Group One as the quality continues to improve over the years.
Next Saturday I shall be at York for the John Smiths Cup one of the big handicaps of the season.
Until then thank you for reading.