On a boiling hot afternoon in the midst of a proper British sporting summer at Haydock Park it was an afternoon of celebrations for the Owners Group 004 Syndicate as they very much like Harry Kane is hoping to do next Sunday lifted up an historic sporting trophy as their pride and joy Rainbow Rebel landed the 2018 running of the Old Newton Cup in a real head bobbing finish from Crowned Eagle in a pulsating end to this famous Haydock flat race.
The pace was strong from the gates opening as Atkinson Grimshaw set a decent and honest gallop from the off and still had the lead turning into the straight but like most breakaways that you will see in the Tour De France over the next three weeks he was quickly gathered in by the peloton with three furlongs left and dropped right back down the field, Rainbow Rebel came through to lead under Joe Fanning with half a furlong left and got the verdict in the judges box in a race that always has a lot of drama about it.
Mark Johnston was landing his third Old Newton Cup in six years with Rainbow Rebel and was following up from a recent win at Pontefract, plenty of options will be open for him while he’s in this rich vein of form and a trip down the Goodwood as part of the huge contingent that he always sends down south each year may be in order, one horse who caught the eye back in third was Atty Persse who was making his seasonal debut here, he ran well in the race and should come on loads for this.
Haydock’s other big race was the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks over 1m4f which looked a decent enough renewal albeit not quite full of top middle distance class fillies and mares.
Just like in the Old Newton Cup the judge was needed with the magnifying glass in the end giving the casting vote to Horseplay under David Probert from the Andrew Balding yard by a short head from last months Pinnacle winner God Given.
God Given set out to make all under Jamie Spencer and had plenty of them under pressure as they came to the business end of the race, in the last furlong she began to be ridden and got headed in the final half furlong but stuck to the task very well.
Horseplay certainly came to table with decent form in the book, runner up in the Middleton on her season debut at York behind Coronet who went on to be second in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, she has certainly added a bit more to her paddock value here, connections have some fair options for her such as the Lily Langtree at Goodwood and the Grosser Preis Von Baden in Germany plus she has a Yorkshire Oaks entry and that could also be an option depending how the return of Enable goes.
Mark Johnston was also off to a winning start in the first race this afternoon as Making Miracles under top course jockey Richard Kingscote hacked up in the opening staying handicap over 1m6f and clearly benefited from the step up in distance after being mid division over 1m4f at Royal Ascot recently, one obvious target after this would be the Melrose at York and maybe a return back to Haydock for the Old Borough Cup here in September also being a gelding a fair owners from the jumping world may be thinking about waving the cheque books out.
Two other races that caught the eye were the 6f sprints, the first one a Conditions Stakes was taken pretty easily by Mythmaker as he reversed course form with Intisaab who beat him by a neck back here in May, this is his level of racing for sure and he gives his all in them.
The second one was a fine performance by the Richard Hannon trained Buridan who breezed home in the 6f handicap in the style of an improving horse as he clearly is a ahead of his winning mark of 85 and his owners Al Shaqab have a top sprinter in the making here and after the Eclipse success of Roaring Lion earlier on this will have added a little bit extra in the celebrations.
A top notch day of racing then at Haydock, next up we we venture off to Yorkshire for a Friday and Saturday diet of racing at Pontefract and Ripon so expect a nice “Best Of” from what is always a nice couple of days over the border!
Till then it’s goodbye.