With the Investec Derby meeting less than a week away, one might expect a fairly low key weekend of racing. However, Haydock Park hosts a card rich in diversity and high on quality on Saturday.
The Group 3 888Sport Pinnacle Stakes contested over just under 1 ½ miles, features an interesting collection of older fillies and mares.
The field is headed by the ex-French trained Andry Brusselles who has joined David Simcock. This 5 year old competed in low key races for much of her career but landed a Listed contest at Saint-Cloud last October before running last of 13 to Tac De Boistron in the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak.
Criteria proved a useful and consistent filly last season although just below top class. The John Gosden trained 4 year old won a Kempton Park maiden in April 2014 but failed to win again. She was a nose second to Honor Bound in the Lingfield Oaks Trial and just ¾ of a length third to Irish Oaks winner Bracelet in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, before running 5 lengths second to Noble Protector in a Listed race at Newmarket last July. Criteria continued to run well without winning again but was disappointing on her return when only ninth, beaten 8 ¾ lengths behind Miss Marjurie in a Listed race at Goodwood in early May.
Dragon Fei is a useful handicapper who travels over from the Irish yard of Dermot McLoughlin. She was successful at the Curragh last June and got off the mark at the first time of asking this season, when beating Jeremy’s Girl by 2 ¼ lengths at the same track in early May. But it was her latest start that suggests she is worth a try at this grade, as Dragon Fei finished ½ a length second of 15 to subsequent Gallinule Stakes winner Curvy in a Navan handicap in mid-May.
Having shown promise as a juvenile, Jordan Princess got within 6 lengths of Taghrooda in last season’s Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket. However, the Luca Cumani 4 year old proved disappointing thereafter in 3 starts, before regaining the winning thread for the first time since her 2 year old days at Goodwood in late August, beating Tioga Pass by a neck in a handicap. She ended her year with another good run when ¾ of a length second of 13 to Queen Of Ice in a Listed race at Newmarket in September. Jordan Princess returned to action in that Listed Goodwood contest won by Miss Marjurie, finishing 3 lengths fourth of 11.
Kleo took a recent step up in grade here in her stride with a fine run in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes. The Luca Cumani trained daughter of Kavafi got off the mark last year at the fourth time of asking, when landing a Lingfield Park maiden in July. Later that month she followed-up in impressive style when beating Cosmic Halo by 3 ¾ lengths in a York handicap but at that stage of her career, she seemed to find the step up to Listed company a step too far, finishing down the field at Salisbury behind Lady Pimpernel the following month. In September she again ran in Listed grade and ran better when 3 ½ lengths fourth of 11 to Hadaatha at Yarmouth. She finished her season on a high when landing a Doncaster handicap by 2 ¾ lengths from Cape Caster in late October. Kleo has given the impression that she would improve with age and it was interesting to see Cumani targeting the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes for her return. That belief was fully vindicated as she ran a belter to finish ¾ of a length second of 8 to Bragging.
Lady Tiana enjoyed a fine 2014 campaign which included 4 victories. The Lucy Wadham trained 4 year old had pretty moderate form as a juvenile but won her first two starts of last year in handicap class at Nottingham and Sandown Park and ran well at the latter venue when second to Cay Dancer in mid-June. She then found things tougher in July but ran second to This Is The Day in a Haydock Park handicap in late September as she returned to form. Lady Tiana was successful again in a Nottingham handicap in early October and the following month landed a Listed Doncaster contest by a length from Princess Loulou. She returned to action in the Group 3 Prix Allez France in Chantilly in late April, finishing 2 ¾ lengths sixth of 9 to Mayhem.
Lustrous came to hand at York’s May meeting last year, winning a Listed mile contest by a neck from Radiator. Stepped up to 12 furlongs she ran a superb race to finish ½ a length second to Bracelet in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot but was beaten 8 lengths by the same filly in the Irish Oaks. Lustrous was then fifth of six in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes behind Sultanina and then ran 10 lengths fourth of 7 to Tapestry and Taghrooda in a thrilling Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks. After a lengthy absence she returned to action at Goodwood but was 5 ½ lengths seventh of 11 to Miss Marjurie in early May.
Miss Marjurie continues to go from strength to strength. After running a fine second to Mighty Yar in a competitive handicap at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting in May of last year, the Denis Coakley trained 5 year old landed a valuable handicap at Epsom on Derby Day, beating the useful Stomachion by 2 ½ lengths. Her form tapered off somewhat in her next two starts by she ended 2014 by running 1 ¾ lengths second of 14 to the useful Hidden Gold in a Listed race at Lingfield Park in late October. She returned at Goodwood in the Listed Warwick Stakes in early May and beat Dream Child by a neck in a race containing several of these opponents.
After winning her first two starts Queen Of Ice had a cut at the Classic trials in the spring of last year, running 6 lengths fifth to Madame Chiang in the Musidora Stakes at York. She then placed in two Listed contests before regaining the winning thread with a nose victory over Arabian Comet in a Listed race at York in August. The William Haggas trained 4 year old then headed to Newmarket in late September for the Listed Princess Royal EBF Sakhee Stakes, defeating Jordan Princess by ¾ of a length in the style of an improving filly.
Talmada put up arguably her lifetime best performance on her latest start. This Roger Varian trained 4 year old daughter of Cape Cross failed to show in one race at two but was a promising third in a Newbury maiden on her bow in 2014. In late April she defeated Galuppi by 7 lengths in a Haydock Park maiden and she ran well the following month when 1 ¾ lengths third of 7 to Miners Lamp in a Newmarket handicap. Talmada was a disappointing seventh behind Bracelet in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and was not seen again until October, when she ran a fine race to finish 3 ½ lengths second of 17 to Albasharah in the Listed Pride Stakes at Newmarket. She returned in the Group 2 Middleton Stakes at York in mid-May and ran a cracking race to finish 1 ½ lengths second of 8 to the smart Secret Gesture, with plenty of top class fillies and mares behind her.
The lightly-raced Wonderstruck completes the field and looked a filly who would do well with more time last year. The William Haggas trained 4 year old ran third to the useful Marsh Daisy on debut at Ascot last May and by the end of that month had got off the mark with a ¾ of a length defeat of the smart colt Forever Now in a Newmarket maiden. She then headed to Royal Ascot for the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes in June and ran 3 ¼ lengths sixth of 12 to Bracelet despite her obvious inexperience. Wonderstruck’s last run came in a Listed contest at Newbury in August when she finished 2 ½ lengths fourth of 9 to Silk Sari.
Next up comes a fascinating and competitive renewal of the Group 3 Timeform Jury Stakes (Registered as The John Of Gaunt Stakes) over 7 furlongs.
Ansgar enjoyed a new lease of life last year when he was in the form of his life. Sabrina Harty’s 7 year old finished stone last in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June but next time out beat Darwin by a length in the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh. Soft ground did not appear to suit him in the Desmond Stakes and he finished 11 ½ lengths behind Custom Cut on that occasion. He then arguably put in a career best effort to defeat Muteela by 1 ¾ lengths in the Group 3 Supreme Stakes at Goodwood. But that was not the end of the story as Ansgar improved again to beat Aljamaheer by ½ a length in the Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster in September. He then headed to Longchamp and stepped into the rarefied air of Arc Day and the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, finishing a hugely creditable 4 ¾ lengths sixth of 14 to Olympic Glory.
Hold-up tactics have proved the making and undoing of Captain Cat on more than one occasion. The Roger Charlton trained 6 year old was a winner 3 times last year, landing a valuable prize at Lingfield Park’s All-Weather Championships Final and later beating Producer by 2 ½ lengths in the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury in August but a couple of weeks later leaving his run too late when 1 ¾ lengths third to Bow Creek in the Celebration Mile. In September, Captain Cat looked all class as he defeated Balty Boys by 1 ½ lengths in the Group 3 Superior Mile at Haydock Park and he ran well when stepped up to Group 2 grade in the Joel Stakes, finishing 2 ½ lengths second of 12 to the improving Custom Cut. He was also far from disgraced when 4 lengths fifth to Charm Spirit in the Group 1 QEII Stakes at Ascot in October but disappointed in his last two starts of a busy year at Kempton Park and in Sha Tin. Captain Cat returned to action over 10 furlongs in the Group 3 Winter Derby at Lingfield Park in mid-March but finished 1 ½ lengths fifth of 11 to the smart Tryster. If he gets a clear run, he must be respected but he was a somewhat disappointing 6 lengths twelfth of 16 to Night Of Thunder in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in mid-May.
Absolutely So had a successful 2014 campaign which saw him win t Goodwood in May and run a fabulous race when ½ a length second of 13 to Heaven’s Guest in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket in July. Andrew Balding’s 5 year old then landed the Listed City Of York Stakes by 1 ½ lengths from Glory Awaits in August before disappointing in his last two starts of the year. He makes his seasonal return here.
Aljamaheer has returned to longer trips this season, having been a smart miler in 2013 (finishing third in the Lockinge Stakes to Farhh) but campaigning in sprints last season. The Roger Varian trained 5 year old made a pleasing comeback when a nose second to Coulsty in a Listed race at Leicester in late April but was 4 ½ lengths eighth to Night Of Thunder in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
Ascription takes a big step up in class here having recently made his return after a long break. The Hugo Palmer trained 6 year old was a useful handicapper in 2012 and 2013, winning handicaps at Glorious Goodwood and the Doncaster St Leger meeting two years ago, before running down the field in an Ascot handicap in October of 2013. He was not seen again until running 8 lengths eighth of 18 to Alfred Hutchinson in a Listed handicap at York in mid-May.
The Richard Hannon trained Baltic Knight is another familiar name and is a Listed winner from two years ago. Last term he recorded victories at Haydock Park (beating Dutch Rose by 1 ¾ lengths) in September and landed a Nottingham handicap in November when defeating Moohaarib by 1 ¾ lengths. The 5 year old then disappointed at Kempton Park and Lingfield Park towards the end of the year. He returned at Kempton Park in February and ran much better to finish 2 ¾ lengths second of 6 to Lady Dutch but was disappointing at Doncaster in March when last of 5 to Tullius in the Listed Doncaster Mile Stakes. A month later he took part in the Group 2 bet365 Mile at Sandown Park, finishing 4 ½ lengths fifth of 6 to Custom Cut.
Breton Rock remains a hugely admirable colt who simply doesn’t know how to run a bad race. The David Simcock trained 5 year old was successful 3 times during 2014, winning a minor contest at Thirsk and later defeating Custom Cut by ½ a length in a Listed contest at Haydock Park in May. He also ran a short head second to Penitent in this contest a year ago. His biggest success came at Newbury, as he edged Gregorian by a short head in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes in August and he then ran 1 ¼ lengths third of 13 to Here Comes When in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in October. He returned to action in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in mid-May, finishing 4 ¼ lengths seventh of 16 to Night Of Thunder.
Cable Bay proved a pretty decent juvenile colt in 2013 and rounded off a consistent if not spectacular campaign by finishing second to War Command in that year’s Dewhurst Stakes. The Charlie Hills trained 4 year old was delayed in returning to the track and failed to fire in 3 races during August and September last year, before finding big improvement to run a length second to Here Comes When in the Challenge Stakes. He made his seasonal bow at the Curragh in April when 1 ¼ lengths third of 11 to Flight Risk in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes. That run certainly seemed to bring Cable Bay on and he ran well in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes to finish 1 ¾ lengths fifth to Night Of Thunder.
Clon Brulee enjoyed super development last year, progressing from handicaps at Meydan through the winter into a legitimate and improving Group class horse. Saeed bin Suroor’s 6 year old finished third in the handicap won by Farraaj at Epsom in early June and then landed a Newmarket handicap by 4 ½ lengths on soft ground in early August. At the end of that month he finished 1 ¾ lengths third to Treasure The Ridge in a competitive handicap and last time beat Red Galileo in a conditions race at Doncaster. He ended his 2014 with a fine run in the Group 3 Darley Stakes, finishing 3 lengths fourth of 13 to Berkshire.
Emell has been a fine servant to the Richard Hannon yard and the 5 year old has often run well in this grade in the past. He was recording his first victory since August 2012 when landing a handicap at Haydock Park in late April, beating Professor by 3 ¼ lengths. Emell then ran well when 2 ½ lengths fifth of 12 to Fiftyshadesofgrey at Goodwood in early May and did not get the clearest of runs through when 4 lengths fifth of 26 to Speculative Bid in the Victoria Cup at Ascot later in the month.
Having contested Classic trials last spring, Master Carpenter found his niche when the rains came at Sandown Park in late May, beating Indy by 7 lengths in the Listed Heron Stakes. Rod Millman’s 4 year old improved again a month later to defeat Calling Out by ½ a length in the Group 3 Prix Daphnis at Chantilly before running 4 ½ lengths third of 6 to Western Hymn in the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte in July. Master Carpenter finished last of 10 in the Group 1 Prix Du Moulin in September and was last of 12 to Custom Cut in the Joel Stakes later that month. He returned in the Lockinge Stakes but finished 10 lengths fourteenth of 16 to Night Of Thunder and will need more here.
That Is The Spirit appeared at his best around this time last year, winning his first three starts on the Flat for David O’Meara, culminating in the Listed Surrey Stakes at Epsom in June. The 4 year old was then stepped up in class but failed to place again and in his last start for 2014 he finished 6 ½ lengths tenth to Olympic Glory in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in October. He was a disappointing last of 11 to Flight Risk in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes at the Curragh in April but bounced back to form in a Listed Haydock Park contest earlier this month when beating Dusky Queen by 1 ¾ lengths.
Top Notch Tonto is a striking looking horse who has unusual white markings that make him distinctive. He came to prominence on the race course in 2013 when winning three races and running second to Olympic Glory in the QEII Stakes. Brian Ellison’s 5 year old had a tougher time last season and finished 7 lengths fourth to Tullius in this corresponding race. He contested Group races throughout the year and ran one of his better races when a head second of 19 to Short Squeeze in a competitive handicap at York’s Ebor Festival in August. A month later he finished 2 ¼ lengths fourth to Bow Creek at Leopardstown but was a well beaten tenth to Charm Spirit in the QEII Stakes at Ascot in October. Top Notch Tonto had his last run of the year at Doncaster a week later and ran a length second of 7 to Lulu The Zulu. He returned to action in the Bet365 Mile at Sandown Park last month and finished 4 ¼ lengths fourth of 6 to Custom Cut. Last time out Top Notch Tonto contested the Lockinge Stakes but disappointed, finishing 6 ¾ lengths thirteenth to Night Of Thunder.
The sprinters take their turn next in the Listed 888sport Achilles Stakes over 5 furlongs in a contest that could have some bearing on the big sprints at Royal Ascot.
Pretend looked a really exciting juvenile when landing a Kempton Park maiden by 7 lengths in November 2013 but the following February ran poorly at Meydan and was off the track until last autumn. The Charlie Appleby trained 4 year old ran fourth at Wolverhampton on his comeback in October but has since been in terrific form, winning at Wolverhampton in December, where he beat Boom The Groom by ½ a length. He returned there on Boxing Day to record a 5 length victory over Smokethatthunders but ran poorly behind Trojan Rocket at Chelmsford a month later. Pretend got back to winning in early March with a 1 ¼ lengths defeat of Boomerang Bob back at Wolverhampton and a week later beat Alben Star by 1 ¼ lengths at Lingfield Park. The gelding then headed to the All-Weather Championships at Lingfield Park on Good Friday and recorded a length victory over Alben Star to complete his hat-trick.
Intibaah comes into this race still relatively lightly-raced for a 5 year old. The George Baker trained gelding won his final start of 2013 and followed-up with a win on his 2014 bow at Haydock Park last May, beating Annunciation by 1 ¼ lengths. He was off the track then until October, running down the field behind Lightning Moon in the Group 3 Bengough Stakes at Ascot. A couple of weeks later on bad ground, he ran much better at the same track in a Group 2 to finish 2 lengths fifth of 15 to Gordon Lord Byron. Intibaah shaped with promise on his return at this track earlier this month, when 2 ¼ lengths second of 4 to Clear Spring.
After a slow start to 2014, Justineo came back to form with a 3 length defeat of Royal Rock at Doncaster in early August. Roger Varian’s 5 year old later finished 1 ¼ lengths third to Naadirr in a Listed contest at York in early September before running down the field in the Prix de l’Abbaye in October. He returned to action in a Nottingham sprint in early April, finishing 5 ½ lengths sixth of 7 to Spinatrix.
The evergreen 10 year old Kingsgate Native is back for another crack at a race he has finished second in to Sole Power over the last two years. The Robert Cowell trained gelding was winning the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes as a juvenile, back in 2007 and has been a remarkable servant for Cheveley Park Stud down the years. He was ½ a length behind his old foe last year and then ran 3 ½ lengths third to Hot Streak at Haydock Park, before finishing 1 ¼ lengths second of 10 to Extortionist in a Sandown Park Group 3 in July. Kingsgate Native then disappointed at York and Goodwood and there were discussions as to whether he might be retired – but he was then only beaten ¾ of a length when fourth of 7 to Pearl Secret in the Listed Beverley Bullet in late August. He was again disappointing behind Mecca’s Angel at Doncaster in September but rounded off the year with a victory at Beverley, beating Green Door by 1 ¾ lengths in late September. He returned at Newmarket in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes and ran his usual game race to finish 2 ½ lengths third of 9 to Goldream. Last weekend, he contested the Group 2 Temple Stakes at this track, but was a disappointing 7 ½ lengths ninth of 11 to Pearl Secret.
Her Majesty The Queen’s Musical Comedy proved a very decent juvenile in 2013 with 3 wins and two seconds from 6 starts. The Richard Hannon trained gelding ran well on his return in a Listed Ascot contest late last April, finishing ¼ of a length second to Mick’s Yer Man. He built on that next time out to win the Listed Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury in May, beating the smart Naadirr by a head. He then struggled in the Jersey Stakes in June and was last of 15 to Lightning Moon in a Group 3 also at Ascot in October. Musical Comedy returned with a most encouraging effort in the Listed Woodlands Stakes at Naas in late April, finishing ¾ of a length second of 8 to Great Minds. He then took part in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes, finishing 3 ¾ lengths tenth of 15 to Glass Office.
Music Master developed into a really smart sprinter last term and having won at Warwick in late April and run sixth to Rocky Ground at Windsor, he ran a terrific ran to finish 2 ¾ lengths fourth of 14 to Slade Power in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Henry Candy trained 5 year old then landed the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes by a neck from Heeraat at Newbury in July and he ran another blinder in the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park, coming home 2 ¼ lengths third of 17 to G Force in September. He made his comeback in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket in mid-April, shaping well to finish 1 ¾ lengths third of 11 to Astaire.
Out Do is progressing out of handicap company, where he was twice successful last year, including when landing the Great St Wilfred Handicap at Ripon in August. The David O’Meara trained 6 year old returned as good as ever when winning a Pontefract handicap in April and earlier this month followed-up with a neck victory over Red Baron in a York handicap in mid-May.
Robert Cowell’s Speed Hawk was twice a winner in the UK last term and has run some good races in defeat in Meydan this year. The 4 year old was eighth to Hototo on his debut here in January but later than month ran an excellent race when 1 ½ lengths second of 10 to Beat Baby in a handicap. He was then 4 lengths eighth to Ahtoug in another handicap before running 1 1/2 lengths third of 10 to Reynaldothewizard in a Group 3 contest in February. Speed Hawk finished ¾ of a length third to Shaishee in early March and then ran 5 ¼ lengths seventh of 13 to Secret Circle in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen at the end of that month.
The 3 year old Canny Kool had 4 starts last year, winning the third of them at Beverley in September. The Brian Ellison trained gelding has made a good start to 2015, winning a Ripon handicap in late April when he defeated Rita’s Boy by 3 ¼ lengths. He then finished a nose second to Appleberry in a Hamilton contest in early May.
Union Rose completes the field and had a busy time of things as a juvenile, racing 11 times and winning one race and placing on 5 other occasions. The Ron Harris trained daughter of Stimulation gained her sole success with an impressive 7 lengths victory in a Bath maiden last May but ran a huge race in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot when 3 ½ lengths second of 24 to Hootenanny. On the whole she struggled thereafter but she is an interesting runner at the weights on her seasonal comeback
The big race on the Haydock Park card is the Group 2 888sport Sandy Lane Stakes over 6 furlongs which looks to be a significant trial for the newly-established Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Adaay won his first two starts as a juvenile before bombing out when only eighth in the Coventry Stakes behind the recently retired The Wow Signal. The William Haggas colt then ran 5 ¾ lengths third of 5 to the smart Limato at Newbury in July and was not seen out again until running a promising 3 lengths third to the same rival in an Ascot Group 3 last month. He clearly improved for that run and beat Jungle Cat by 1 ¾ lengths in the Listed Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury on Lockinge Stakes Day earlier this month.
Beacon was a smart early season colt last year and after running fourth on debut, completed a hat-trick of victories when defeating Mukhmal by 4 lengths in a Listed Sandown Park contest in July. Later that month he ran ¾ of a length third to Cotai Glory in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes having had a troubled passage but there seemed no excuse for his 3 ½ lengths defeat when sixth to Muhaarar in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York the following month. In September he was back to winning ways when beating Astrophysics by a head in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes but he was a very fortunate winner as Cotai Glory was well clear when veering across the track and unshipping his rider close to the finish. He returned to action in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes at Ascot in late April, finishing 8 lengths ninth of 12 to Limato and has a lot to do on that form.
Burnt Sugar was a useful juvenile winning twice last season including when landing the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton Park in September by 2 ¼ lengths from Maftool. He then ran a big race over 7 furlongs in the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere, running a length fourth to the promoted Full Mast, but disappointed when only eighth to Vert De Grece in the Criterium International in November. He ran poorly in two outings over in Meydan earlier this year and returned to the UK to finish 2 ½ lengths fifth of 7 to Lexington Times at Lingfield Park in mid-March. Burnt Sugar then took on Limato and Adaay in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot, finishing 4 ¾ lengths fifth of 12.
Karl Burke’s Glenalmond is an interesting runner who won a small Ayr maiden by ½ a length from My Dream Boat. The son of Iffraaj was then stepped hugely up in class to contest the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York in August, running a superb race to finish just a length behind Muhaarar in fourth place. For one so inexperienced, he shaped really well that day but was disappointing at Doncaster in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes when 6 ¼ lengths last of 6 to Estidhkaar. He returned in the European Free Handicap at Newmarket in mid-April and finished 4 lengths fourth to Home Of The Brave. Glenalmond then took his chance in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas in early May, but finished 20 lengths behind Gleneagles when seventeenth of the 18 runners.
Limato makes his keenly awaited reappearance here having won all 4 starts at two. The Henry Candy trained son of Tagula was twice successful at Kempton Park in June before making a winning turf debut by defeating Cotai Glory by 1 ¼ lengths in the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes at Newbury in July. He was not seen again until October, when he brilliantly beat 22 rivals in the Listed Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar, with Mattmu, some 1 ½ lengths down, his nearest pursuer. He returned at Ascot in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes with his trainer having voiced concerns over his fitness. However, Limato powered to a 1 ½ lengths success from the filly Tendu, looking as good as ever as he extended his record to five from five – and he sets the standard here.
Markaz showed some glimpses of smart form despite winning only once from his 6 starts last year. The Barry Hills trained son of Dark Angel was well beaten on debut before running 1 ½ lengths fourth of 7 to the useful Sixty in a Salisbury maiden in June. He lost that maiden tag in his next start at Ascot in July, beating Fingal’s Cave 1 ¼ lengths and ran well in a Goodwood nursery at the beginning of August when ½ a length second of 12 to Son Of Africa. The following month he was second again, this time beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Angelic Lord at Doncaster and he signed off for the year by stepping up to 7 furlongs and running a belter to finish 2 ½ lengths second of 8 to Maftool in the Group 3 Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket in late September. He returned at Ascot late in April and ran well to finish 3 ¾ lengths fourth of 12 to Limato and the following month headed to Newmarket for the Listed King Charles II Stakes, running 1 ¾ lengths third of 6 to Tupi.
Mattmu proved a smart and highly consistent juvenile last season and was in the first 3 in all 9 starts. The Tim Easterby trained son of Indesatchel is the only 3 year old to take on his elders here and receives weight all round as he makes his seasonal return. After running 1 ½ lengths second of 23 to the very smart Limato in Redcar’s Champion Two Year Old Trophy in October, Mattmu beat Bond’s Girl by 2 ¼ lengths in a Listed York contest and rounded off his season by defeating Queen Bee by a length in the Group 2 Criterium De Maisons-Laffitte in early November. Mattmu returned as good as ever in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes at York in mid-May, taking on the older horses. He ran a belter to finish a head second of 15 to Glass Office.
Salt Island made an exciting debut when beating Best Endeavour by 3 ¼ lengths in a Windsor maiden in late August but 2 months later was a shade disappointing when 3 ¾ lengths fifth of 8 to Code Red in a Listed race at Doncaster. The Charlie Hills colt returned to action at Newmarket’s Craven meeting and impressed when winning a handicap by 3 ¼ lengths from Properus. He then contested the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury in mid-May and finished 3 lengths third of 12 to Adaay.
Toocoolforschool had his biggest success last term when landing the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury in September. Karl Burke’s son of Showcasing was third on debut before landing a small Ripon maiden by 1 ¼ lengths from Summer Times in early August. He was then significantly stepped up in class to contest the Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York and eventually finished an admirable head second to Dutch Connection, with some big reputations beaten behind him. Toocoolforschool then ran in the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster in September where he was ½ a length second of 7 to Nafaqa. Then came that excellent victory in the Mill Reef Stakes, where he revelled on the soft ground and ran 7 lengths clear of Growl. He returned in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury in mid-April, finishing 8 ½ lengths fifth of 9 to Muhaarar and it is interesting to see him drop back down in trip now.
New Providence looked a really smart filly last year and proved hugely consistent. Hugo Palmer’s Bahamian Bounty filly won a Lingfield Park maiden in June and followed up with a decisive 2 ½ length defeat of Cajoling in a Doncaster nursery in mid-July. She then ran in a valuable 17-runner nursery at Newmarket, finishing 2 lengths second to Zifena. At York’s Ebor Festival, New Providence ran in a very valuable and competitive sales race, running second of 19, just 1 ½ lengths behind the progressive Mubtaghaa. A couple of weeks later, she beat Marsh Hawk by a short head in a Salisbury Group 3 contest. She then headed to Newmarket in late September for the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and acquitted herself well to finish 3 lengths third of 9 to the smart Lucida. New Providence ran a belter on her return when a short head second of 8 to Osaila in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket in mid-April. She confirmed she had retained all her abilities when 2 lengths second of 11 to Majestic Light in the Group 3 Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield earlier in May.
Over at Newmarket there may well be some Royal Ascot clues on show in the Listed Winner.co.uk Fairway Stakes over 1 ¼ miles.
The field is headed by the talented but somewhat quirky Nafaqa. He put up a remarkable performance on his racecourse debut in the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot last June. He fell out of the stall conceding many lengths and running a green race before staying on in eye catching fashion to eventually finish 4 ¾ lengths fourth of 14 to Richard Pankhurst. The following month he confirmed that promise with a ½ length defeat of Marshall Jennings in a Newbury maiden and in September he landed the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster by ½ a length from subsequent Mill Reef Stakes winner Toocoolforschool. Nafaqa again showed signs of greenness on his last juvenile run, finishing just a length behind Elm Park in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes. The son of Sir Percy ran well on his return to action in the Group 3 Craven Stakes also at Newmarket, finishing 1 ¼ lengths second of 7 to Kool Kompany in mid-April. He then stepped up in trip for the Dante Stakse at York but ran far too freely for his own good before dropping away as the contest got serious and eventually finishing 19 lengths fourth of 7 to Golden Horn. If he can settle, he cannot be dismissed here as he drops in grade.
Faithful Creek ran in excellent company during a busy 2 year old campaign. After winning an Epsom maiden in July, he was 5 ¼ lengths seventh to the smart Highland Reel in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood a few days later, before running 1 ¼ lengths second of 9 in a Listed Deauville race behind Medley Chic. In September Faithful Creek again ran well in defeat, finishing 5 ½ lengths third to the exciting John F Kennedy at Leopardstown – and he was far from disgraced when 2 ½ lengths fifth of 14 behind Hootenanny in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on his latest start at Santa Anita in late October. Brian Meehan’s charge made his 2015 return in the UAE Derby in Meydan in late March, finishing 20 lengths seventh of 10 to Mubtaahij.
Glan Y Gors continues his crash course in pattern racing. Gay Kelleway’s son of High Chaparral landed a Pontefract maiden at a big price in late April, defeating the useful Fallen For A Star by an impressive 2 ¼ lengths. Last Friday he headed to Goodwood for the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes, finishing 8 ¼ lengths last of 6 to Storm The Stars.
Mustadeem had a fleeting juvenile career but his form looked pretty good. This son of Arcano is trained by Brian Meehan and wasn’t seen out after losing his maiden tag in early July. After running mid-division behind Adaay in a decent Newbury maiden last May, Mustadeem was beaten just ½ a length by the very smart Estidhkaar in a similar Newbury contest the following month. He got off the mark with a 1 ¾ lengths defeat of Darshini at Sandown Park in early July. Mustadeem returned to action after a long absence in the Listed Feilden Stakes at Newmarket in mid-April, but could not live with the exciting Golden Horn, finishing 13 lengths sixth of 7.
Peacock also ran in that Feilden Stakes and given what Golden Horn has since achieved, all of a sudden he looks a very interesting horse here. He went to Newmarket with race fitness on his side. Peacock had made a good impression when winning a maiden at Newmarket in late May of last year, beating Commander Patten by ½ a length. He then headed to a Listed Ascot contest in late July and ran 4 ¾ lengths fifth to Kodi Bear. Richard Hannon’s son of Paco Boy then ran well in a Listed contest at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting in September, finishing ¾ of a length third of 7 to Nafaqa. He returned to action at Kempton in early April in a conditions contest and impressed when beating Azraff by 2 ¾ lengths. Then came that Newmarket run behind the current Investec Derby favourite, who beat Peacock by just 1 ½ lengths in mid-April.
Sharp Sailor made 5 appearances last year, winning a mile maiden on Polytack at Linfield Park and finishing second twice in conditions events over the same distance at Kempton Park. He ended 2014 with fifth in the Listed Silver Tankard over a mile at Pontefract on October 20. This year he returned to action in a competitive mile handicap at Kempton Park on February 18, finishing 5 ¾ lengths third to Godolphin’s useful performer Festive Fare. The Marco Botti colt then headed to Epsom for the Investec Derby Trial in April, finishing 6 lengths third of 5 to Christophermarlowe.
After running down the field behind Lexington Times on his racecourse debut last year, the Nayef colt Snoano ran out a 2 ¼ lengths winner from Deluxe in a Sandown Park maiden in early August. The following month he won the prestigious Haynes, Hanson & Clark Stakes at Newbury, beating Acaster Malbis by a short head. John Gosden then stepped his charge up to Group 1 grade in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October where he finished a remote fifth of 8 to Elm Park. He returned to action in the Group 3 bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown Park in late April, finishing 3 ½ lengths third of 4 to Master Apprentice.
Tannaaf hit the target at the first time of asking when winning a Newmarket maiden by 2 lengths from Shadow Rock in August. The Mike De Kock trained son of High Chaparral was then 5 ¼ lengths seventh of 15 to Secret Brief in one of those Tattersalls races in October. He then had a run in Meydan in a Listed contest in late February but was 5 ½ lengths eighth of 11 to Volatile. He ran a lot better at Newmarket in April when finishing 1 ¼ lengths fourth of 8 to Cape Clear Island in that valuable sales race. Last time out Tannaaf took his chance in the Group 3 Chester Vase in early May, running 5 ¼ lengths fourth to Hans Holbein.