Haydock Park, Saturday 28th May 2022, Betfred Sparkling Saturday

Pogo Sticks It Out

In a wide open looking renewal of the Group 3 John O’Gaunt Stakes which resulted in four horses being covered by a picnic blanket it was the Charlie Hills trained Pogo who has gained plenty of air miles of late just got his snout on the line to fend off Laneqash to record his first win in over a year.

Bouncing out from stall five under Kieran Shoemark, Pogo rolled on at the front end and faced plenty of challengers in the last furlong including eventual runner up Laneqash and Kinross who won the race last year but could only finish third albeit by only a few centimetres.

Pogo might not be a world beater but at G3 and Listed level he is consistent, a trip to Royal Ascot might be in order but that would probably be more of a social runner than a serious one.

Pogo

Sea Sees Them Off

William Haggas’ runners continue to be in top order at the moment and he had yet another winner here as Sea La Rosa picked up where she left last season by comfortably taking the G3 Pinnacle Stakes over 1m4f.

In fairness this probably wasn’t a strong race for the nine starters with just three of the runners winning their highest grade of race at listed level but Sea La Rosa was one of them who took a listed race on the all weather at Lingfield back in October last year.

She hit the front in the last furlong by which time the closers couldn’t get to her in time and could be making a return visit in July for the Lancashire Oaks over the same course and distance and off this running she could prove to be hard to beat depending on who turns up.

Sea La Rosa

Raasel Slays Dragon

Visually the most impressive winner came in the 5f Listed Achilles Stakes as the Mick Appleby trained Raasel got the better of Dragon Symbol with a scintillating display of speed.

Making his first step into pattern company he certainly looked at home in it and came down the near side under James Doyle to make some fair horses look rather ordinary, he is an out and out 5f horses and has more still to offer.

Dragon Symbol ran far better than his recent York run but hasn’t still fully come to himself this season and while he isn’t one to write off just yet you would have to be cautious when parting with the hard earned on him just at the moment.

Raasel does appear to like Goodwood too with two wins at that course to his name, it’s possible Royal Ascot could be bypassed for a crack at the King George Stakes at Group 2 level.

First Contact Again

Last weekend at Haydock jockey Ben Curtis had to miss his remaining rides after dislocating his shoulder but he gained some much deserved compensation from that by landing the big handicap of the day over 1m4f on Contact for the David and Nicola Barron yard.

Following up from a nice Newmarket win last month this 4yo has began the 2022 season in fine form recording his second win of the season, he was upped 5lb after that to 90 and still could offer a bit more, connections are definitely tempted by a return here in July for the famous Old Newton Cup and being an entire colt no doubt they will be hoping to sneak some black type in before too long.

Market leader Mahrajaan came back in third only beaten a couple of lengths and will definitely come on for the run next time out.

Contact

A busy couple of months at Haydock come to an end, next up on the roadshow will be a visit over the border to Yorkshire and to the Knavesmire for a short review of a fair to middling card.

Today at time of writing the sport woke up to the sad news that Lester Piggott had sadly passed away at the age of 86, Lester rode his first and last career winners here at Haydock and today’s review is in memory of one of the finest jockeys of all time.

RIP Lester Piggott.

Haydock Park, Saturday 21st May 2022, Cazoo Temple Stakes Day

It’s definitely fair to say that at about 3.47pm yesterday The Queen was far more smiley than last Sunday when she had to put up with Alan Titchmarsh fawning over her in desperation for a knighthood in ITV’S tribute show to her after her star sprinter King’s Lynn just hung on to take the feature Group 2 Temple Stakes under David Probert which formed the third of a big race treble for the jockey.

For trainer Andrew Balding this was the second winner of the afternoon and one who is now almost certainly to be Royal Ascot bound for a crack at the King’s Stand Stakes.

In a strong looking renewal plenty had chances and King’s Lynn looked to have the race in the bag but Twighlight Calls began to hit top stride and was closing the gap but King’s Lynn managed to hang on as they went past the red and white lollipop.

Both the front pair should square off again at Ascot and the undulating nature should suit the runner up a bit more than the winner although no doubt any American raiders will have a say in it too.

Favourite Winter Power ran ok to begin with but flattened out in the last two furlongs but she will strip fitter for the run but it’s highly likely that the Nunthorpe will be her main target this season.

In the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes for 3yo over 6f saw El Caballo continue his massive climb up the ranks as he made it four from four this season to follow up his win in last month’s 3yo AW Championship race.

This race had plenty of potential improvers in it and the winner held off Flaming Rib who beat the Temple Stakes winner last time out at the Roodee so off that El Caballo could be the cock of the 3yo sprinters as the season progresses, he will probably take his chance in the Commonwealth Cup which will be as wide open as ever.

Flaming Rib will definitely get a nice race at some point as it now appears that sprinting is definitely his forte and he has plenty to offer in this division.

The afternoon’s two feature handicaps saw the continuing burgeoning career of the Clive Cox trained Whoputfiftyinyou landing the famous Silver Bowl, in a race full of plenty of unexposed 3yo horses the one they all had to beat was Mighty Ulysees who for many was the group horse in a handicap and it looked for all money that the bookies would be facing a hefty payout but Whoputfiftyinyou dug in down the outside and went by him towards the end to make it four from four.

He was stepping up in trip from having previously been campaigned at 6f and 7f,going off how he won this he should get a bit further, the next step would naturally be the ultra tricky Brittania at Royal Ascot although it would be no shock if he were to bypass it for something a little less difficult.

Mighty Ulysees’ odyssey won’t have been hampered by this result although he isn’t one to write off but he will need to bounce back as he does have a Royal Ascot entry in the St James’s Palace but that could prove to be a more tentative one.

In the Hell Nook Handicap over two miles, Valley Forge had to use every ounce of strength to land the spoils but did so in the style of an improving stayer.

Successful in last years Melrose at York he resumed the new season with a fair fifth over 1m6f at Newmarket and looked as though an extra couple of furlongs with suit and he looked to appreciate the new trip and if anything looked like even further with aid his cause, the staying division will be wide open when Stradivarius retires and Valley Forge would have as good a chance as any in picking the mantle up.

Next weekend we return to Haydock for the John O’Gaunt and the Pinnacle Stakes, Till then goodbye

Haydock Park, Saturday 7th May 2022, Pertemps Swinton Hurdle Day

N’Golo Scores In Swinton

The white rose was being firmly paraded around Haydock Park on Saturday on a stellar afternoon for the neighbours on the other side of the M62 as Ann Duffield and Gavin Sheehan teamed up to land the first big race of the new jumps season with N’Golo as the dashing grey formerly trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins bagged the Grade 3 Swinton Hurdle in supreme style.

In a fair renewal of this historic handicap the winner was always well to the fore and on the run in was always in command of victory, he has taken a bit of time to find his feet in British races and while he struggled at the top table in Ireland he should be able to do a bit more depending where he goes now as he also has a flat rating of 78 which could be exploited in middle distance races.

Severance ran an honest race back in second but just always seems to find one to good in his races, the wind surgery seems to have worked the oracle with him and could be one to keep onside next season.

Aldaary Blooms In Spring

On the flat the feature contest came straight after in the Listed Spring Trophy over seven furlongs which saw a fine seasonal reappearance by the William Haggas trained Aldaary who easily brushed aside a fair looking field with utter contempt under Jim Crowley.

He finished off his 2021 campaign at Ascot on Champions Day when he landed the Balmoral Handicap and now looks set for an even bigger jump up in company, he should be Royal Ascot bound but after the way he win here it would be no shock if a return trip for the John O’Gaunt Stakes in a fortnight would be on the cards.

Romeo On The Run

Sue Smith runners are always to be feared at Haydock even in spring as opposed to the depths of winter that regular visitors here are used to experiencing and today proved to be no exception as Romeo Brown jumped out to make all up in the longest race of the afternoon the three mile handicap hurdle.

In a very competitive race on paper this 8yo under his conditional rider Thimas Willmott who claimed 3lbs, made every post a winning one, he turned on the screw as they came into the home straight and simply could not be caught although Panic Attack from the Pipe yard stayed on itno second spot she simply could not reduce the defecit even on the long run in.

This was actually the first time Romeo Brown had finished a race here at Haydock, he ran twice here in December 2019 and fell both times and thankfully that memory is now a world away.

Brad Bags Sprint

Hugo Palmer continued his solid start from his new Cheshire base after being signed by Michael Owen to run Manor House Stables as Brad The Brief under David Egan took the 6f Conditions Stakes.

Already a previous course winner in 2020 when Haydock raced in lockdown he has been consistent enough and although he does struggle in higher grade races, he is at home in races like this and at Listed/G3 level.

Hard to know what future targets will be but possibilities could include visits to Ireland and France as the season progresses.

A fine day of mixed racing where the flat and jumping worlds come together for an afternoon of racing from 6f to 3m and other trips in between

This meeting is the only one left in the UK at the moment and while it’s a shame that the sport doesn’t have more compared to France and Ireland it is nice to experience the variety that they can offer.