The sprinters are back in the limelight tomorrow, as Haydock stage the Group 2 Temple Stakes, a race established in 1965.
Originally run at Sandown, the five-furlong sprint was switched to the Merseyside track in 2008, when going the way of the three-year-old flying filly Fleeting Spirit. Since the change of venue, no single age group have dominated affairs. Victories have been split among the ages, with Kingsgate Native the oldest winner at eight, and Hot Streak matching Fleeting Spirit’s achievement of winning at three.
Multiple winners are not common, though the aforementioned Kingsgate Native has won the Temple Stakes twice, and finished in the frame on two other occasions. The old warrior will be back at the track, though hoping to win the Achilles Stakes today (having been successful in the race 12 months ago), rather than taking on the elite in the Temple tomorrow.
George Baker and Ryan Moore are the most successful jockeys in recent running’s, with two victories each. Baker won aboard Pearl Secret last year, and gets the leg-up on Charlie Hills’ Cotai Glory tomorrow. Ryan Moore misses Haydock, for more pressing matters at the Curragh.
Those who love their trends are not only scuppered by the age of winners, but also by the likely winning trainer. Sir Michael Stoute is the most successful handler with five victories, though only one of those has come in the 21st Century (step forward Kingsgate Native). The last 10 renewals have gone to different yards, with renowned sprint trainers such as Cowell and Lynam unable to dominate.
Maybe there’s a chink of light when looking at the owners of the contenders? Qatar Racing have won the last two renewals. Indeed, they had first and third home last year, and the first and second 12 months earlier. Tomorrow they hope that Pearl Secret can win again, having taken the race last year, and finished runner-up in 2014.
As always with these sprints, the weather will play a vital role in the outcome. So many of the hopefuls are ground dependent. The aforementioned Cowell and Lynam will be praying that the forecast rain continues to miss Haydock. Robert Cowell will be a guest on tomorrow’s Morning Line, and looks to have a trio of contenders. Goldream is his undoubted number one. Good or preferably rattling fast ground is vital for last year’s King’s Stand winner. He has a 4lb penalty to overcome, but if conditions are right, he has an outstanding chance.
Ed Lynam sends over his wonderful sprinter, Sole Power. Now a nine-year-old, he too needs fast ground to be seen at his best. He’ll be fit and well from a winter in Meydan, and can be forgiven his lacklustre performance at Newmarket last time, when conditions went against him. He came close to winning this in 2012 and 2013, but much now depends on just how much ability he retains.
The favourite for tomorrow’s renewal is unlikely to run unless the venue is hit by a deluge or two. Mecca’s Angel has become an outstanding sprinter, winning last year’s Nunthorpe in stunning fashion. She may be risked on good ground, but any hint of firm is sure to see her withdrawn. She missed several engagements last season, and after a second place finish at the Curragh in July, her trainer Michael Dods said: “I thought Mecca's Angel ran a super race. But she just doesn't travel with the same fluency - she changed her legs several times - and she doesn't have that extra gear she has when there's juice in the ground.”
Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum had the leading sprinter of 2015 with the sensational Muhaarar. He has two fancied contenders for tomorrow’s race, with Waady and Muthmir both capable of going close. The former tuned up for this with a promising run at Newmarket, when a close third to Profitable in the Palace House Stakes. He too is arguably a better horse on a sounder surface, and could well reverse form with his Newmarket conqueror. He beat Wind Fire at Sandown on fast ground last summer, and that piece of form puts him in the picture for this. He should go very close.
Muthmir is another that needs it quick. He came close to winning the King’s Stand when third to Goldream and was third to the same horse in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp in October. He’s clearly a top class sprinter, and with conditions to suit is sure to run well. I just have a nagging feeling that he’ll find one or two a little too quick for him. And at 5/1 he’s no each way proposition.
Tom Dascombe sends his youngster Kachy into battle, having won last time at Chester. Last year’s Molecomb Stakes winner is undoubtedly quick, and needs a sound surface. He’s a colt by Kyllachy, a renowned sire of top-class sprinters, the likes of Sole Power and Twilight Son. This is a huge step up in class for the three-year-old, but he has to be considered as a player.
It’s impossible to ignore Profitable after his win at Newmarket. He was twice beaten by Waady last summer, before running a huge race in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He’s sure to have strengthened from three to four, and is closely matched with Waady. If you fancy one, you have to fancy the other, and chances are that they will both go close.
It looks another terrific renewal, with Waady, Profitable and Kachy, taking on the more experienced sprinters. The weather over the next 24 hours will play a crucial role, and it makes tipping a winner that much trickier.
I have to have a little each-way on Pearl Secret. His record in the race is terrific, and should Haydock get a little rain, the 20/1 now available will look incredibly generous.
I’ll also be having a few quid on Waady. I’m hoping his run at Newmarket will have put him spot on for this. He’ll not be inconvenienced by a little rain, but I’d prefer it to remain on the quick side for him. Hopefully the pair will play a major part in the finish.