Anyone walking into Haydock this afternoon were probably thinking that the course manager had taken security to extremes given the behaviour and past times being indulged at courses down in the southern region as the Army,Navy and Air Force were out in the Be Friendly Enclosure as Haydock were supporting them as has been the case over the past few years.
On the track though it was all about the speedsters and boy did they entertain the crowd in thunderous style producing some excellent racing and thrilling finishes.
Saturday’s feature race was the Group 2 Temple Stakes over the flying 5 furlongs and what a finish we got, first up favourite and one of the worlds highest rated 5f sprinters Battaash came back from his winter break but boy did he have a fight on his hands to land the prize.
From the stalls Kachy made a beeline straight for the far rail, Battaash missed the break but got a nice tow off Take Cover as he kept to the near side, approaching the furlong pole Kachy still led but Battaash was finding his feet and began to hit top flight eventually getting his head in front as the lollipop came in time from the fast finishing in behind pair of Washington DC and recent Palace House scorer Mab’s Cross.
Make no mistake this was a tough race for Battaash as he as giving weight away to all and he had to show his true grit to land it, next step will be the Kings Stand at Royal Ascot with the Nunthorpe and Prix de L’Abbaye being the other major targets over this trip, he will also come on a ton seeing as this was his seasonal debut too.
Washington DC is a real enigma of a horse, solid and consistent with the notable fact that this 5yo is still an entire and this will boost his fee for the mares by a few Euros, Kachy back in third ran a top race considering he prefers racing around turns.3yo sprinters had their Commonwealth Cup Trial on the card with the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes over 6f and this years renewal looked a race full of promise with lots of potential on offer.
In the end last years Gimcrack winner Sands Of Mali from Richard Fahey’s yard followed up from his recent Group win at Chantilly to put himself firmly in the picture for the Commonwealth Cup as well as sending the owners of The Cool Silk Partnership down to local Tailors to get measured up for the morning dress as he just got the nod in a photo from Invincible Army in a top notch finish, both horses brought top 2yo form to the race and they should face off against each other in a few weeks time at Royal Ascot.
Invincible Army is an Ascot course winner and that will help him in good stead,it would be no shock to see the form get reversed but both are top sprinters, back in third was Emblazoned having his first foray into top level racing and he acquitted himself well.The ladies had their turn in the Cecil Frail over 6f and this result brought about a deafening silence from the crowd as Classical Times hosed up at 20-1 no doubt to much delight of the bookies, most recently a runner up in the Kilvington at Nottingham this was only her second career win and a first win since landing her maiden at Redcar last season, Peter Chapple-Hyam will no doubt be glad to have got some black type with her and although she is useful at best it might be hard to see her following up, Raven’s Lady who was fifth in the Kilvington was runner up here so that form is stacking up nicely.
Handicap wise the big race of the day came in the Silver Bowl over 1m for 3yo and Clive Cox has a very likeable type with Crack On Crack On who weaved his way through traffic to make it two wins on the bounce following on from his Lingfield win over 7f last time out, only upped 5lb for that he is clearly progressing in the right way and could prove to be a little ahead of the handicapper, back in second was Completion who ran honourable in defeat but could be better on a straight course as his two wins at Redcar and Newcastle have proved to be just so.
It wasn’t just speedsters on the whole card as the stayers opened proceedings with a two mile handicap that went the way of the William Haggas trained The Grand Visir who appreciated the step up to this trip as he stayed on stoutly under James Doyle and if anything looked to be going on nicely at the end, he is reportedly going to have a crack at the Ascot Stakes over 2m4f and he looked like he could get that trip although expect a few from the NH world to be having a few nice sorts with exploitable marks for that contest.
In glorious weather the crowd enjoyed some absolute top class flat racing and we shall be back here in two weeks time for John O’Gaunt and Pinnacle Stakes Day, hopefully the weather will still be here for it!