The Flat racing just keeps coming at Haydock Park, which hosted a blockbuster Saturday of racing for the second weekend in a row on 29th May.
An exciting seven race card was headlined by the Group Three Betway John of Gaunt Stakes over seven furlongs and we sent Nick Seddon to speak to the winners on the day…
Kinross strikes in the John of Gaunt for Frank
We’ve known for a while that Frankie Dettori is very much the man for the big occasion and he certainly relished the presence of a crowd of 3,000 spectators at Haydock Park, as he guided the Ralph Beckett-trained Kinross (5-1 Co Favourite) to an impressive victory in the day’s feature, the Group Three Betway John of Gaunt Stakes.
The four year old has some smart form under his belt, finishing sixth in last year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, and he looks a nice candidate for the seven furlong circuit this summer – which includes the Group Two Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in July and the Group Two Hungerford Stakes at Newbury in August.
And Dettori revealed that he was delighted to ride a high profile winner for his friend Marc Chan, who recently picked up the son of Kingman. He said: “He had some good form as a two year old and Marc Chan bought him with the thought of having a good Carnival in Dubai.
“Things didn’t go his way so Ralph decided to geld him and we didn’t know what to expect here. I rode him to run well and had the splits when I wanted them and to be fair to him he’s picked up and put the race to bed straight away. Prior to the race we were a little bit puzzled but he’s shown he’s still got his ability and we can make a plan for him now.”
La Lune is in the form of her life
This afternoon’s card was a top notch one and also included the Group Three Betway Pinnacle Stakes. The late withdrawal of Salsada meant that just five took their chance, but the race wasn’t lacking in quality and there was plenty to like about La Lune’s one and three quarter length success at 5-2.
It marks a fine start to the season for the Henry Candy-trained mare, who is now 2-2 for the campaign after making a winning start in last month’s Listed Nottinghamshire Oaks.
And winning jockey David Probert feels that the five year old is better than ever – adding that she could even come back here later in the season. He said: “She’s a lovely mare and she’s really excelled this season. We were worried about the ground not drying up enough but she has got form in defeat on heavier conditions in defeat and she really relished the mile and a half today and saw it out great.
“She was relentless at Nottingham and that was on pretty quick ground and the way she’s done it today was pretty exciting. I’ll speak to Henry (Candy) and the owners, but she’s got that sort of profile (for the Lancashire Oaks).”
King’s Lynn ensures there’s a Royal winner in the Achilles
Alongside the two Group races was the Listed Betway Achilles Stakes over five furlongs. It looked to be an ultra-competitive renewal on paper and the result certainly drew a cheer from the crowd, with the Andrew Balding-trained King’s Lynn justifying 3-1 favouritism to win in the colours of Her Majesty The Queen.
The four year old has long had the profile of a potential Group performer and Balding stated that he was very much looking at the Royal meeting next for his charge. He said: "He's done very little wrong in all his starts and he's still reasonably lightly raced for a horse of his age. He's entitled to keep on improving, I hope and I'm very pleased with him.
“He is in the King's Stand and now has a penalty in the Wokingham but those are the two objectives. It is one or the other. But at this stage we will wait and see what the opposition looks like. We are delighted (to have a horse heading to Royal Ascot for The Queen)."
Winning jockey Oisin Murphy added: “He’s learning how to sprint now. I was disappointed at Newbury but he probably needed it a fraction and he produced a good run on a turning track at Chester last time when he got a little lost. Today was a huge step up on form and I’m delighted with the horse. That was a decent Listed level and he had a bit to find on ratings, so we’ll see what’s next.”
Murphy feels there could be more to come from Quickthorn
It proved to be another successful trip to Haydock Park for champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who rode the first leg of a double when winning the first race on the card, steering the Hughie Morrison-trained Quickthorn (3-1 Favourite) to a taking victory in the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap over a mile and a half.
The four year old is lightly-raced for his age and was having his first start for 318 days but he showed the benefit of a gelding operation when sealing an eight and a half-length success under the champion jockey.
And Murphy feels that there could be more to come from the son of Nathanial yet. He said: “He’s an improver. He’s had a few little issues and that’s why you haven’t seen him very much but Lord and Lady Blyth breed some really nice horses and I think this one fits into that category – that was a good performance and I like him. He’s so easy to ride and straightforward. Hughie Morrison’s horses are really flying.”
Mo Celita can’t stop winning!
Having been purchased for a modest amount in the spring by the Adrian Nicholls team, Mo Celita (100-30 Jt-Favourite) has done nothing but flourish and she picked up her fifth straight victory in this afternoon’s penultimate race, the Read Andrew Balding On Betway Insider Handicap over six furlongs.
Travelling well on the front throughout, there didn’t look to be a moment of worry for the daughter of Camacho, who sealed a second straight Saturday success at Haydock with the minimum of fuss.
What makes the filly’s run all the more remarkable is the fact that the first three of her victories came in selling company and Nicholls couldn’t hide his delight with his recruit – who he could now send to Royal Ascot. He said: “She’s unbelievable. She’s stepping up in grade and winning with the same kind of ease that she was last time, so she’s been a superstar and I’m chuffed to bits.
“A friend of mine Mark Gallagher rang and said there were a few that were available so I had a look at her and took my chance and the rest is history. I won’t say how much she cost but she was cheap – hence why she was in a seller!
“She’s done nothing but improve. When we first got her she certainly wasn’t catching pigeons so it really must just be a confidence thing. If you’d have said to me two months ago I’d be stood here after watching her win five in a row I’d have laughed. Nobody being there has been great really, I was being cheeky sending her to three sellers but you’ve got to take a chance sometimes.
“There’s a big six furlong handicap at York potentially or depending on how much the handicapper puts her up I might put her in the Jersey Stakes. I’ve only had one runner at Royal Ascot and there’s no reason why she won’t get seven furlongs, so we’ve got a few options with her.”