With this year’s Cazoo Derby now behind us, attention switches to Merseyside, which now hosts three days of consecutive racing at Haydock Park and Aintree, beginning with a seven-race card at the former on Wednesday (June 9th) afternoon.
Some of the biggest names in the weighing room had made the journey up north and we sent Nick Seddon to speak to the winners on the day…
Unbeaten Mandoob looks one to follow
With each of the first three races being novice contests, this afternoon’s card certainly had the feel of a day which could prove to be informative and Mandoob will have etched his name into a notebook or two with his performance to win the opening race – the Racing To School Novice Stakes over a mile and a half.
Racing towards the middle of the track, the 6-4 favourite still had plenty on his plate at the two furlong pole, but the further the son of Farhh went the better he was and he duly reeled in Princess Nadia in the closing stages to remain unbeaten and seal three quarters of a length success.
It’s now two wins from two outings for the three year old and winning trainer Brian Meehan is hopeful that he could have a big future ahead of him, with the Group Three Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s Moet & Chandon July Festival now a possible target.
Meehan, speaking away from the track, commented: "He's very good, I've always thought a lot of him. We made a loose plan three or four weeks ago to come from Lingfield to here and then go for the Bahrain Trophy.
“We'll step him up in trip and bring him up a level. He's very talented, a lovely scopey horse with a big future. I can see him getting further and further as well."
Sadmah makes a winning start
The second race on the card was the Steve Taplin Memorial EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes for two year olds over six furlongs, which had a mixture of debutants and fillies with experience amongst the nine-runner field.
George Boughey’s sensational start to the year with his juveniles meant it was no surprise to see the once-raced White Jasmine sent off as a short-priced favourite, but she was no match for the 6-1 debutant Sadmah, who made up plenty of ground late on to seal a three quarter length success in a race which could produce plenty of winners down the line.
Adam Ryan, assistant trainer to his father Kevin, was thrilled with the Frankel filly’s first outing.
He said: “I’m delighted with that. She’s a filly that’s been showing the right signs at home but obviously it’s her first day of school. She was in the stalls for a long time, so I was delighted with the way she jumped and travelled.
“She was a little bit outpaced when they quickened things up but it’s to be expected first time out and she’s stayed on strongly and hit the line well.
“I’m delighted for the owners (Emirates Park), it’s their first ever winner for us and she’s a nice filly who hopefully has a bright future. We’ll get today over and done with and then have a chat with connections, but she looks a filly who’ll get better with time.”
Albahr gets off the mark at the second attempt
As a full brother to three winners, including Australian Group One scorer Cascadian, the Charlie Appleby-trained Albahr is certainly bred to be useful and he built on a promising debut effort to finish third at York last month when opening his account in the third race, the Watch Racing TV Now Novice Stakes.
The son of Dubawi was made to work hard to justify 5-6 favouritism by the front-running Whitefeathersfall, but he showed a good attitude to grind things out under William Buick and nose ahead in the closing stages to score by a neck.
And winning trainer Charlie Appleby suggested that he could potentially target a race at next month’s Moet & Chandon July Festival at Newmarket. He said: "He's come forward for that first run and we hoped the step up in trip was going to bring further improvement.
“Once he got upside the eventual second, I was always half confident he'd put his head in front. We've got no lofty targets for him, he won't be going to Ascot. We may look at something more towards the July Meeting."
Pivoine grabs a deserved success
The most interesting race of the day on paper looked to be the 10-furlong Pareto Financial Planning Handicap, with each of the six runners looking to have a chance according to the betting market.
It proved to be way in-running too and it was the Andrew Balding-trained Pivoine who made the best of his way home under Silvestre De Sousa, to seal his first victory since winning the John Smith’s Cup at York off a 13lbs higher mark in 2019.
And De Sousa was pleased to grab a deserved victory on the seven year old, who seems to retain plenty of enthusiasm for the game. He said: “He’s a horse who has done really well in the past and has run in tougher handicaps than the one he was in today.
“They didn’t go a huge pace early on but he switched off nicely and came with a nice late run. He’s a great servant and it’s been a while since he last got his head in front so I hope this can build his confidence for the next race.”
Improving Stevens could be quickly turned back out
The penultimate race was the Join Racing TV Now Handicap over a mile and six furlongs, and it looked one to watch bearing in mind that all three runners arrived here on the back of victories last time out.
The Alan King-trained Oceanline was a 4-5 favourite under Hollie Doyle after dotting up under that rider at Nottingham last week, though he was no match for the rapidly improving Soapy Stevens (5-2), who cruised into contention under Franny Norton before wheeling away to a comfortable two and three quarter length success.And winning trainer Mark Johnston revealed after the race that he will look to strike while the iron is hot with the son of Harzand. He said: “Franny’s just reminded us that first time out he was third and Adayar (who won The Cazoo Derby on Saturday) was fourth at Nottingham, so we were sure he would win next time. He didn’t and he’s taken a while to get there, but now he’s won two and it’s well deserved.
“He’s in at Chester on Saturday and we’ll have a look at that. I’ve got six of the 12 in the race, so we’ll have to consider that! A few of them are Royal Ascot candidates and he may be too now, so we’ll have to have a look. Provided he’s ok tomorrow morning, he’ll turn out at one or the other.