Evergreen Euchen Glen in Rose of Lancaster reckoning

Euchen Glen could be in action again in the MansionBet Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

Jim Goldie’s stable stalwart is enjoying an excellent campaign, having bagged two big-race victories at Sandown in the Brigadier Gerard and the Gala Stakes.

He was only narrowly denied further success in Friday’s Group Three Glorious Stakes at Goodwood – flashing home under regular partner Paul Mulrennan but just failing to reel in Saeed bin Suroor’s 2-1 favourite Passion and Glory, who was completing a hat-trick for the season.

Goldie is pleased with how Euchen Glen has recovered from those exertions and is eyeing a swift return to action on Merseyside.

“He was back home on Saturday and has come out of the race grand, so I think he’ll be fine to run again,” said the Scottish trainer.

“I think he’d have got up in another few strides. He ran a good race and the winner is maybe a good horse.”

The eight-year-old could face another exciting Bin Suroor-trained horse this weekend, with Royal Ascot hero Real World among his 14 potential rivals.

Since winning the Royal Hunt Cup, Real World has impressed in a Listed event at Newbury and is the joint top-rated horse in this weekend’s field along with Euchen Glen.

Real World and Marco Ghiani winning the Royal Hunt Cup
Real World and Marco Ghiani winning the Royal Hunt Cup (David Davies/PA)

Goldie has his charge entered for the Sky Bet Ebor at York on August 21, but his participation could depend on how he fares at Haydock.

He added: “We’ll see about the Ebor. If he wins on Saturday we probably won’t go for the Ebor and if he’s second again we probably will.

“If he picks up a penalty, we’d probably think it would be too much weight at York and the Ebor is a hard race.”

Last year’s Rose of Lancaster winner Extra Elusive is in line to defend his crown for Roger Charlton.

Other contenders for the Group Three contest include Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone, the Ed Walker-trained Stormy Antarctic, Foxes Tales from Andrew Balding’s yard and Brentford Hope, who is trained by Richard Hughes.

Haydock on radar for Gustavus Weston

Joe Murphy is considering a tilt at the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock with stable star Gustavus Weston.

A surprise winner of the Group Two Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh in May, the five-year-old proved that performance was no fluke when a clear second to Mooneista in last weekend’s Sapphire Stakes over five furlongs.

Murphy believes his charge is better suited to the longer sprint distance of six furlongs and hopes to have a crack at Group One glory on Merseyside in September, with a potential bid to regain his title in the Phoenix Sprint also under consideration en route.

“I was very pleased with him in the Sapphire,” said the

He followed up what he did the first day, which was great,” said the County Tipperary trainer.

“We’ll probably go to the Sprint Cup in Haydock. Before that he could run in the Phoenix Sprint, where he’d have to carry 10 stone, with it being a Group Three.

“That race is on August 8, which is perfect before going to Haydock (on September 4).

“He’s consistent and he’s proved he could potentially be pretty smart. Time will tell, but it’s nice to have a horse of that calibre.”

Oxted to undergo thorough check after July Cup third

Roger Teal is to have Oxted “checked out” after finishing a gallant third when defending his crown in Saturday’s Darley July Cup.

Fresh from doubling his Group One tally in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, the five-year-old had to make do with minor honours at Newmarket after hanging badly right in the closing stages, while he was also found to be suffering from mild heat stress post-race.

It is testament to Oxted’s ability he was still only beaten just over a length by the Ed Walker-trained winner Starman, but Teal was left wondering what might have been.

He said: “He seems absolutely fine, but we’re going to have him checked out because we don’t know why he hung across the track. We’ll have the vet look at him and see if there’s anything untoward.

“He got a little bit hot after the race. It was a stifling day and we had to get some cold water on him afterwards as his body was a bit over-heated. There were a couple in the race the same afterwards.

“He’s never hung across the track like that before, so we’ll monitor him over the next few days and see if anything comes to light.”

Assuming Oxted is given a clean bill of health, next on his agenda is the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 4.

Roger Teal (top hat) with Oxted at Royal Ascot
Roger Teal (top hat) with Oxted at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

“He still ran a huge race on Saturday. He lost a lot of ground hanging across like he did, so if he’d stayed straight it would have been interesting,” Teal added.

“It was a quality field – it was very scary to keep looking at it – but he’s run an absolute stormer and we couldn’t be more proud of him.

“We’re sort of running out of options now, so the Sprint Cup at Haydock would be his next target if all is well.”

Alounak lifts Old Newton Cup at Haydock

Alounak bounced back to form to claim an impressive victory in the bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock.

A Group Three winner in Germany and runner-up in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, Andrew Balding’s charge appeared dangerously well handicapped on the pick of his form.

However, he lined up for this prestigious handicap with plenty to prove, having never threatened to land a telling blow on either of his two previous outings this season at Ascot.

Sent off at 14-1 in the hands of three-times champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa, Alounak arrived on the scene travelling powerfully inside the final two furlongs before powering three lengths clear in the rain-softened ground.

Win O’Clock narrowly beat my Frankel to the runner-up spot.

“He’s done it very well out there,” said the winning rider.

“He travelled really well throughout the race. I was confident when I went back through his form as I knew he would go on the soft ground.

“I don’t think he’s at his best in this ground, but he’d run some good races in the past and he’d come down in the handicap, so it was all suitable for him.”

Alpinista hits the heights in Lancashire Oaks

Alpinista stamped her class on the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.

Sir Mark Prescott’s filly set the standard on her runner-up finish behind the brilliant Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last summer, after which she was narrowly beaten in a Group Three at Newmarket.

She got the current campaign off to a successful start in a Listed event at Goodwood in April – and having missed a couple of intended engagements since, she was the 11-4 favourite for the Group Two feature.

With front-running Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel beginning to fade inside the final two furlongs, the Roger Varian-trained pair of Cabeletta and Lady Hayes were left fighting it out for the lead.

However, Alpinista picked up well in the hands of her regular partner Luke Morris to win the day by just over a length.

Morris said: “We’d chosen not to run her a couple of times because of the ground. Today they’ve rolled the dice and she seems to handle firm ground as well as soft ground.

“She was second to Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last year and she’s a Group Two winner now.

“These are the horses you want to ride when you’re getting up early in a morning and getting home late in the evening.”

Prescott’s assistant, William Butler, said: “She’s very game and we’ve trained lots of her family, who were very game as well.

“We were slightly worried about the ground as she was so effective on firm last summer, but her class got her through.

“She’s a Group Two winner, Group One second and dual Listed winner and you can pick your targets now.

“There are races like the Lillie Langtry (at Goodwood) and the Yorkshire Oaks and we’ll make a plan.”

Tashkhan claims valuable handicap prize at Haydock

Brian Ellison was delighted see Tashkhan claim a second win at Haydock this season with a decisive display in the £100,000 bet365 Handicap.

Bought privately from Irish trainer Emmet Mullins after winning at Navan in the spring, the three-year-old has already proved a shrewd purchase for his new connections.

A winner on Merseyside in May, the son of Born To Sea could only finish ninth in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, but looked far more comfortable back on rain-softened ground.

Ridden by 5lb claimer Harry Russell, the 16-5 chance moved moved pulled a length and a half clear of Summer’s Knight to leave his trainer considering an appearance at next month’s Ebor Festival at York.

Ellison said: “He loves that ground. We went to Ascot and we didn’t really want to run him, but decided to let him take his chance.

“He’s a proper horse. He won for Emmet Mullins off a mark in the 50s and we asked him if he was for sale and he said he was.

“I can see why he sold him because he shows absolutely nothing at home, but I love those type of horses that do it on the track.

“He’s in the John Smith’s Cup, but we’ll probably wait and look at the Melrose.

“I don’t think he’ll go anywhere unless there’s juice in the ground, though.”

Young Fire notched his third course and distance success in the Each Way Extra At bet365 Handicap.

The six-year-old had previously won back-to-back renewals of the same September handicap for trainer David O’Meara and returned with sound claims following successive placed efforts.

With morning rain turning conditions in his favour, 15-2 chance Young Fire finished with a flourish under a well-timed ride from Danny Tudhope to get up and beat Gifted Ruler by three-quarters of a length.

“That (soft) ground is a big plus for him – these are his conditions,” said the jockey.

“He ran off 96 today, which is his last winning mark. He’s a fair horse on his day and has been running well this year without winning.

“He’s a tricky horse who needs things to fall right. He needs them to go quick, likes to come through horses and not get there too soon – I’m glad he’s gone and done it today.”

Cashew in the Haydock winner's enclosure
Cashew in the Haydock winner’s enclosure (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Cashew (100-30) provided trainer George Boughey with his 19th two-year-old winner of the season in the bet365 Nursery.

Successful at Windsor in May before finishing second on her latest outing at Salisbury, the daughter of Bated Breath got back on the winning trail under Mark Crehan.

Boughey said: “She’s a very tough filly who likes that ground – when she won at Windsor it was almost unraceable.

“Hopefully she can win a few more.”

Four non-runners meant just three sprinters went to post for the bet365 Conditions Stakes – and it was Mick Appleby’s admirable veteran Danzeno (15-8) who claimed top honours with a neck verdict over 11-10 favourite Lampang.

Boughey hoping Mystery Angel has the answers at Haydock

Mystery Angel will bid for glory in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks on Saturday after her tremendous performance at Epsom last month.

The George Boughey-trained filly was the runner-up at 50-1 when last seen in the Cazoo Oaks, a race in which she finished behind only Aidan O’Brien’s runaway winner Snowfall.

This weekend’s Group Two affair is run over the same mile-and-a-half trip – a distance the three-year-old has now proved herself to be competitive over after previously producing winning and placed performances from seven to 10 furlongs.

“She’s been in good form since the Oaks, we were very happy with her,” Boughey said.

“She stayed the mile and a half well last time and a big galloping track should suit her well.

Mystery Angel (left) finishing behind Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York
Mystery Angel (left) finishing behind Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She’s been in pretty good shape and I can’t complain really, she goes there with a good chance.”

Prior to the Oaks run, where she was beaten 16 lengths, Mystery Angel crossed paths with Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York and on that occasion finished only four and half lengths behind the Ballydoyle filly.

“There was no shame in being beaten by her (Snowfall),” Boughey added.

“But it would be interesting to see the race (the Oaks) on better ground because I don’t think we can take the form completely literally as we were only a few lengths behind her the time before.”

Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista currently heads the market for the Merseyside feature after triumphing on her seasonal debut in the Listed Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes at Goodwood in April.

Sir Mark Prescott's Alpinista
Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Dubai Fountain will represent Mark Johnston’s Middleham stable, having improved from a below-par performance in the Oaks run to finish fifth in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “He said: “She disappointed in the Oaks, but took a step back in the right direction at Ascot last time.

“It’s her third race in four weeks, but races for fillies at this kind of level aren’t plentiful so we’re happy to take our chance.

“They’ve all got a little bit to find with Alpinista on official ratings, but her best form would see her right there.”

Henry Candy’s La Lune looks to complete a hat-trick of victories, having won both the Listed Nottinghamshire Oaks and the Group Three Pinnacle Stakes already this season.

Candy said: “She’s in very happy form and working nicely. It’s a big step up in grade for her, but hopefully she’ll be able to get herself in the first four and I’m happy with the way she is.

“She takes everything in her stride and she’s very easy going, and to have David Probert back in the saddle is an important part of the equation I think, so hopefully she runs well again.”

La Lune renews rivalry with Roger Varian’s Pinnacle runner-up Cabaletta, while Andrew Balding’s Tribal Craft comes into the race off the back of Group Three success in the Bronte Cup Fillies’ Stakes at York – beating David O’Meara’s Lancashire Oaks hope Makawee into third.

Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Rothesay Stakes winner Bharani Star and the Varian-trained Lady Hayes complete the competitive field of nine.

Liverpool aces celebrate Haydock winner with Mr McCann

Mr McCann looks like being an exciting first foray into racehorse ownership for a group of Liverpool players – which includes captain Jordan Henderson – following his second career victory in the British EBF Novice Stakes at Haydock.

Henderson owns the youngster along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Milner, Andrew Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Brighton’s former Red Adam Lallana.

Bought at the breeze-ups in April by Tom Dascombe and bloodstock agent Ed Sackville for £65,000 the Kodiac colt was beaten three-quarters of a length on his debut over five furlongs.

He then won at Lingfield over six and defied a penalty on this occasion as he made all over seven by two and three-quarter lengths under Jane Elliott.

Dascombe now has to decide whether to throw him into a higher grade in the coming weeks or give him a break after his 22-1 success.

“He was very impressive. I thought he got a great ride from Jane, she steadied it up and then kicked on. He’s possibly beaten some nice horses, but only time will tell,” said Dascombe.

“I was very happy with the performance today – the only surprise was the price, but it is very hard to give those 6lb penalties away to horses who have already had a run.

“That trip looked fine. We ran him over five on debut as he came from the breeze ups, so we needed to take the fizz out of him – but he nearly won that day even and he’s not far off being unbeaten.

“We’ll have to go up in grade now, but as he came from the breezes he’s basically run four times. We could look at the Superlative Stakes, but that could be being greedy. We might just sit on him for a bit longer and find something else. He deserves a crack at a nice race.”

Of buying a horse for the star footballers, he added: “We went to the sales to buy them something that would be ready to run, we didn’t want them to have to wait a year to run. Eddie O’Leary (vendor, Lynn Lodge Stud) was very positive about the horse and told us we wouldn’t be disappointed.”

With Henderson currently with the England squad into the last eight of the European Championships and the rest of the players enjoying their holidays, former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, who owns Dascombe’s Manor House Stables yard in Cheshire, was left to pick up the trophy – and created quite a scene.

Owen told Racing TV: “I think that was the most embarrassing moment of my life – but I promised the lads this morning I’d do the ‘Hendo Shuffle’ if he won.

“Six of the lads have just got into ownership. Ed Sackville and Tom picked a real good one in terms of what they needed. They are new into the game so they wanted an early, sharp, two-year-old but he looks more than that now – he was impressive giving a penalty away.

“I never backed him myself but I’m sure the lads did, they did last time and it’s a perfect start to ownership for them. Hopefully they get the bug and they are in it for a long time.”

Elsewhere on the card John and Thady Gosden enjoyed a double with Side Shot (5-1) in the Watch On RacingTV Handicap and Albert Camus (13-2) in the Handicap. Both were ridden by Robert Havlin.

Mystery Angel ‘likely’ to take up Lancashire Oaks date

Cazoo Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel could bid to go one better in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock on Saturday.

George Boughey’s three-year-old was a widely unconsidered 50-1 shot for the fillies’ Classic at Epsom earlier in the month, but gave members of the Nick Bradley Racing syndicate that own her a thrill in beating all bar Aidan O’Brien’s runaway winner Snowfall.

Mystery Angel is reported to have taken those exertions well and is set to return to action for this weekend’s Group Two feature on Merseyside.

“She’s a likely runner at Haydock on Saturday,” said Bradley.

“She’s in serious form at home – George couldn’t be happier with her. I think if you were to put a gun to his head, he’d say she’s better now than she was before Epsom.

“The Oaks form looks strong. The horse that was 13th (Zeyaadah) won that Group Three the other day and Aidan O’Brien’s filly (Santa Barbara, fifth at Epsom) was just touched off in that Group One in Ireland on Sunday.”

Ben Curtis has been on board Mystery Angel on her last three starts, but could miss out on Saturday after dislocating his shoulder when riding at Newcastle on Friday.

Alpinista could take on Mystery Angel
Alpinista could take on Mystery Angel (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Bradley added: “I don’t know if Ben will be able to ride or not. I think he’s seeing a specialist this week. If Ben doesn’t ride, I suspect Mark Crehan might take the ride.”

Mystery Angel is one of 11 entries for the Lancashire Oaks, with the standard set by Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista.

The daughter of Frankel is rated 113 after chasing home the brilliant Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last summer and could make her first appearance since winning a Listed prize at Goodwood in April, having missed two engagements since.

Henry Candy’s La Lune could bid to follow up her course-and-distance victory in the Pinnacle Stakes, while the Joseph O’Brien-trained Traisha is a potential challenger from Ireland.

Kinross makes class count in John Of Gaunt

Frankie Dettori treated the Haydock crowd to his trademark flying dismount after steering Kinross to an impressive victory in the Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes.

Ralph Beckett’s four-year-old was considered a potential top-notcher in his younger days – competing at the highest level in the Vertem Futurity Trophy, the 2000 Guineas and the Prix Jean Prat.

Having disappointed on a couple of occasions at the Dubai Carnival at Meydan earlier in the year, Dettori admitted he was more hopeful than confident about his chances in the Group Three feature on Merseyside.

However, the 5-1 co-favourite of three bounced back to his best – powering clear of his rivals and passing the post with a length and a quarter in hand over Irish raider Njord.

Dettori said: “He had some good form as a two-year-old. Marc (Chan, owner) bought him with the thought of having a good Carnival in Dubai, but things didn’t go his way – he wasn’t ready for it.

“Ralph decided to geld him and we didn’t know what to expect today, to be honest. His first two runs this year were really bad, so I rode him to run well.

“He got the splits when I wanted them and in fairness he picked up and put the race to bed straight away.

“Prior to the race we were a little bit puzzled, but he showed he’s still got ability and we can make a plan.”

Kinross passes the post in front
Kinross passes the post in front (Tim Goode/PA)

The popular Italian returned to the winner’s enclosure to warm applause from racegoers.

He added: “It was quite weird when I was cantering down to the start for the second race – people on the rail were shouting my name.

“It’s something that I wasn’t accustomed to for the last 18 months. It’s good to have an atmosphere back.”

La Lune reaches the summit in Pinnacle Stakes

La Lune graduated to Group Three company in style with a clear-cut victory in the Betway Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock.

Henry Candy’s five-year-old has been lightly raced so far, with this 12-furlong heat just her ninth start, but she had been making strides – securing a Listed win in the Nottinghamshire Oaks on her seasonal bow last month.

Connections duly opted to move up again in class, and the decision paid dividends as she saw off Cabaletta by a length and three-quarters in the hands of David Probert.

Oisin Murphy set out to make all on favourite Oriental Mystique, but the distress signals were evident with a couple of furlongs to run, as both Cabaletta and La Lune moved on to her heels after she set just a steady pace.

Cabaletta was the first to strike for home, but Probert was clearly travelling the better and La Luna lengthened in style to stride comfortably clear at the line.

Oriental Mystique stuck on again at the finish after seemingly hitting a flat spot, but Cabaletta secured second by half a length.

Candy expects to tackle even bigger things in due course, but has no definite target in his sights.

He said said: “She’s so genuine and straightforward. She’s just wants to please and you don’t get many like that. She’s absolutely tiny, but she’s got a huge stride and a huge heart.

“I was worried about the ground, but (clerk of the course) Kirkland Tellwright was brilliant and said it would be good to soft. It wasn’t ideal, but she’s coped with it. When they want to do it, it makes a big difference.

“I haven’t got anything in mind at all – I’m taking it very much step by step.

“I’m delighted she’s been able to win a Group race. Now she’s won a Group Three we might step up – it’s the logical thing to do.”

Probert was similarly thrilled and said: “She’s got a heart of gold and has really excelled this season.

“I was a little bit doubtful about the ground not drying up enough. She has form in heavier conditions, but in defeat. She was really relentless at Nottingham in the Listed race and that was on very quick ground.

“She really relished the mile and a half today. She enjoys passing horses and she’s a warrior.

“The way she’s done it today is pretty exciting.”

King’s Lynn books Royal Ascot ticket with Haydock victory

King’s Lynn will bid to provide the Queen with a Royal Ascot success next month after opening his account for the campaign in the Betway Achilles Stakes at Haydock.

Andrew Balding’s four-year-old had been beaten less than a length on his first two starts of the season – most recently pushing the reopposing El Astronaute close at Chester three weeks ago.

Back on a straight track, it was a very different story, with El Astronaute under pressure from the halfway stage and ultimately well beaten, while in contrast 3-1 favourite King’s Lynn travelled smoothly in the hands of Oisin Murphy.

The Cable Bay gelding picked up well to grab the lead and had enough in reserve to get the better of Moss Gill by a neck.

Balding 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. I’m very pleased with him.

“He’s still in the King’s Stand and the Wokingham (at Royal Ascot). He’ll have a penalty in the Wokingham, but those are the two objectives – it will be one or the other.

“It’s impossible to say which one he’ll go for at this stage. We’ll have to see what his official rating does.”

Quickthorn powers clear at Haydock
Quickthorn powers clear at Haydock (Tim Goode/PA)

Murphy, battling a bout of toothache, was completing a double on the card, having earlier steered Quickthorn to a clear-cut success in the opening Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap.

The champion jockey missed his final three rides at Yarmouth on Friday, but returned to the saddle aboard Hughie Morrison’s 3-1 market leader in the opener on Merseyside.

Quickthorn travelled strongly for much of the mile-and-a-half contest before being driven eight and a half lengths clear, with Master The Stars beating Labeebb to the runner-up spot.

Murphy said afterwards: “I’m on Amoxicillin and plenty of painkillers. It’s just impossible to see a dentist at the moment unless you’ve got a proper hole in your head!”

Morrison decided not to make the long journey north, but was delighted with Quickthorn’s performance.

“It’s great when owners are patient enough to give a horse time to mature and strengthen up. Hopefully that patience is being rewarded with this horse now,” said the Summerdown-based trainer.

“He got jarred up on the very fast ground last spring, so we’ve given him time and he’s potentially a very nice horse.

“He’s homebred for Lord and Lady Blyth, which is great.

“We’ll see where we go, but I’d imagine we’d want a bit of juice in the ground.”

Punchbowl Flyer came out on top in a thrilling finish to the Betway Handicap.

Eve Johnson Houghton’s 18-1 shot was almost joined on the line by 4-1 favourite Bielsa on the line, but the judge confirmed Punchbowl Flyer had held on by a nose.

Winning jockey Charles Bishop said: “I was a bit worried going over the line that Silvestre (de Sousa, on Bielsa) might have got his head down before me, but thankfully we got there.

“The ground is good to soft. He’s not as happy on that as he is on heavy ground, but hopefully he’s improving.

“The owners talked about not running him, but with the ground drying up in the next couple of weeks they decided to take their chance. It’s a good job they did.”

Mo Celita wins again at Haydock
Mo Celita wins again at Haydock (Tim Goode/PA)

Adrian Nicholls was thrilled to see Mo Celita win her fifth race on the spin in the Read Andrew Balding On Betway Insider Handicap.

Unplaced in two starts for Irish trainer Willie McCreery, the three-year-old completed a hat-trick in selling races on her first three starts for Nicholls, before making a winning handicap debut at Haydock a week ago.

Ridden by 5lb claimer Laura Coughlan, the 100-30 joint-favourite continued her remarkable progression with a two-and-a-quarter-length verdict over Night Narcissus.

“It’s unbelievable really. She’s stepping up in grade and winning with the same ease as the time before,” said Nicholls.

“She’s been a superstar. She’s a filly in form who takes her racing well. I’m chuffed to bits.”

He added: “A friend of mine in Ireland, Mark Gallagher, said a few horses were being shipped around. I had a look at her and said I’d have a go – and the rest is history. I won’t say how much she was, but she was cheap, hence why we ran her in a seller.

“She’s done nothing but improve. When we first got her she certainly wasn’t catching pigeons, so it must just be a confidence thing. If you’d said to me two months ago I’d be stood here now having won five in a row I’d have laughed.

“We were able to win three sellers without losing her because there was no crowds because of Covid. I was being a bit cheeky really, but you’ve got to take a chance in life else you’ll get nothing.

“There’s a race at York in June that she could run in and I might put her in the Jersey at Royal Ascot. There’s a few options with her.”

The concluding Betway Casino Handicap went to the Charlie Hills-trained Il Bandito (11-4), ridden by William Buick.

Cabaletta targeting Haydock heights in Pinnacle

Cabaletta bids to get back on the winning trail in the Betway Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock

Roger Varian’s filly won in Listed company at Newbury last summer, before going on to fill the runner-up spot in both the Group Two Lillie Langtry Stakes and the Group Three March Stakes at Goodwood.

She again had to make do with minor honours when third behind the impressive Queen Power in the Middleton Stakes at York on her seasonal reappearance – and connections are hoping the application of blinkers for the first time will have the desired effect on Saturday.

Chris Richardson, managing director for owner-breeders Cheveley Park Stud, said: “We were a little bit disappointed in the way she performed at York. She just looked to be not really concentrating, so we’re trying something different to try to help her focus.

“I hope the blinkers don’t make her run too free, but she certainly looked to be dossing in the Middleton.

“I think the step (back) up to a mile and a half is what she needs, and hopefully we can see her get back on track.

“Based on what we’ve seen at home, we’re hoping to see an improvement.”

With Alpinista a significant non-runner, Cabaletta is set to face five rivals at Group Three level on Merseyside – Oriental Mystique (David Simcock), La Lune (Henry Candy), Salsada (Jedd O’Keeffe), Wait For The Lord (David Elsworth) and National Treasure (Ben Haslam).

A field of quality sprinters will do battle in the Listed Betway Achilles Stakes, including last year’s winner El Astronaute.

John Quinn’s evergreen sprinter defends the crown he won when the 2020 edition was run at Doncaster, having also made a successful return to action at Chester three weeks ago.

“He’s come out of Chester very well and he’s in good nick,” said Quinn.

“He doesn’t mind a bit of ease in he ground – he goes on any ground. We’re very happy with him.”

Connections of Motagally are pleased to see the five-year-old make his comeback, following a 227-day absence.

It will be a belated seasonal reappearance for the Charlie Hills-trained gelding, who was last seen finishing third at Kempton in October.

“He’s been held up this year, but he’s a decent horse at his best, so it would be good just to get him back out again,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Shadwell Estate Company.

Andrew Balding’s King’s Lynn renews rivalry with El Astronaute – after filling the runner-up spot at Chester – while Edward Bethell runs stable star Moss Gill, whose most recent run was down the field in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.

Safe sights set on further Gaunt glory

Safe Voyage aims to erase the memory of a disappointing run in the Lockinge Stakes and wrap up a fifth win at Haydock, in the Betway John of Gaunt Stakes.

His latest success at the Merseyside circuit came in this race when it was last run in 2019, since when Safe Voyage has won twice at Group Two level – at York and Leopardstown last season – as well as going close in the Group One Prix de la Foret on Arc day in October.

John Quinn’s talented eight-year-old failed to show his true form at Newbury when finishing last of 11 on his latest start in top company, but his trainer is confident of a much better display in Saturday’s Group Three contest back on his happy hunting ground.

“I’ve been pleased with him since the Lockinge. It didn’t really work for him – but he loves Haydock, and we’re hoping for a good run,” said the Malton handler.

“The ground will be fine for him, so it’s fingers crossed.”

Tom Dascombe is hoping Brad The Brief will prove adaptable when he tries seven furlongs for only the second time, having been hampered on his first attempt at the Curragh last month.

“He’s generally been a six-furlong horse, (but) we think that seven will suit,” said Dascombe.

“Soft ground is an absolute must, and I think he’ll get the ground anyway.”

Toro Strike winning at Goodwood
Toro Strike winning at Goodwood (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Paul Hanagan is bullish about the chances of the Richard Fahey-trained Toro Strike, who impressed on his seasonal reappearance in a conditions event at Thirsk last month.

“I couldn’t be happier. He was just on his head early on round that sharp track at Thirsk. I think Haydock will probably suit him better,” the jockey told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s come out of the race well, and we’re really happy with him. Even just to look at him, he’s a beautiful-looking horse and has a wonderful temperament.

“He’s got everything going for him. We’re really hopeful.”

Queen Jo Jo represents Kevin Ryan
Queen Jo Jo represents Kevin Ryan (Martin Lynch/PA)

Queen Jo Jo was third behind Safe Voyage in the City Of York Stakes in August when she last tackled seven furlongs.

Kevin Ryan knows conditions will be more testing, but has no qualms about running the five-year-old mare.

“It’s going to be very testing ground and over seven furlongs, but she’s in good form and we’re there to take our chance,” said the Thirsk-based trainer.

William Haggas saddles Group Three-winning filly With Thanks, and said: “I hope she’ll enjoy the ground, but she will need her first run.

“I’m trying to get her to Ascot for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, so she’ll probably need this, but she’s done very well so far and I’m hopeful she’ll run a very good race

“She’s much better than last year, and much stronger, and she’s very genuine.”

Charlie Appleby’s Glorious Journey returns to British action after running well in Dubai and Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, with recent Victoria Cup winner River Nymph (Clive Cox), Kinross (Ralph Beckett) and Irish raider Njord (Jessica Harrington) completing the field.

Royal run a possibility for Haydock hero Raadobarg

Royal Ascot may beckon for “class act” Raadobarg after he completed his hat-trick impressively in the Join Casumo Today Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock.

Roger Varian’s colt produced a very smart turn of foot under Jack Mitchell to settle matters in very testing conditions, staying on well in the final furlong to win by a length and a quarter from Seasett.

It was a performance which puts the Britannia Stakes on the agenda next month, and Mitchell’s appraisal of the 11-2 winner’s talents underlined those possibilities.

The winning jockey said: “He’s a progressive horse, and he loves those underfoot conditions obviously – I think that’s a bit of a key.

“But he’s got a great mind – you can do whatever you want with him. He’s just improving.

“Obviously it was a big step up in class today, but he’s shown he can participate at that level.”

Raadobarg, in the increasingly familiar Amo Racing Limited colours of Kia Joorabchian, was taking his career record to three wins in four starts.

Asked about the prospect of heading to the Britannia, Mitchell added: “His homework from (his previous victory at) Thirsk has got better and better. He’s a class act in his own right.

“He’s obviously a candidate for that sort of race. He’s got a great mental state to go forward for those big handicaps.

“I wouldn’t be looking to run him on anything with firm in it – he just seems to relish it a bit easier underfoot.”

The owner’s representative Emily Scott voiced a similar proviso, as she confirmed plans.

She said: “Roger (Varian) was hoping he would run well to get in the Britannia, where he should get every yard of the stiff mile.

“He’s relished the conditions – and if the wet summer continues, we hope we can have more success.”

Roger Varian secured a landmark winner
Roger Varian secured a landmark winner (John Walton/PA)

For Varian it was a 1,000th career success and he said: “That is our 1,000th winner in total including international winners.

“It is a great landmark to reach. I owe all of the owners, past and present, a thanks for their support and all the team at home working so hard.”

Oisin Murphy made a flying start to the card, with a double on the board after the first two races.

He completed it on 4-1 favourite Molls Memory, who was held up last early before picking her way through to just deny admirable front-runner Ffion – getting up to win by a neck in the Casumo Horse Racing And Sports Betting Handicap for trainer Ed Walker.

Murphy said: “She relaxed well.

“In the straight it was a little bit tricky, because one group stayed very much far side and the other edged towards the middle, and I just wanted to get a clear, uninterrupted run.

“She found plenty for pressure, and hit the line well. She relishes this ground.

“The trainer had a great York (Dante meeting), and his horses are flying.”

The dual champion jockey was also delighted to be racing in front of a Saturday crowd again, adding: “I am pleased to see the crowds back in – it’s been a long time without atmosphere.”

Classic Lord was a well-backed and determined winner of the opening Casumo Proud To Support British Racing Handicap under Murphy, for trainer Andrew Balding.

The 3-1 shot arrived from off the pace to challenge down the far rail and get the better of long-time leader Mystical Dawn by three-quarters of a length.

The most recent previous winner of the corresponding race was subsequent St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley, in 2019.

Classic Lord has a long way to go before approaching those heights, but Murphy was impressed by his attitude in the very testing conditions.

Classic Lord and Oisin Murphy (right) won the opening Casumo Proud To Support British Racing Handicap at Haydock
Classic Lord and Oisin Murphy (right) won the opening Casumo Proud To Support British Racing Handicap at Haydock (Tim Goode/PA)

“We liked this horse last year,” he said.

“He won at Pontefract and Goodwood, and I thought he was a bit better than (his current rating of) 78.

“He’s obviously improved from his run at Chester. He goes through soft ground, and I hope he’ll have a good year.

“He’s a likeable horse – an easy ride, and he stays well. It’s a war of attrition on that ground.”

John Quinn is another trainer with Royal Ascot on his mind after his filly Frankenstella returned to winning form in the Download The Casumo App Today Handicap.

Quinn nominated the marathon test of the Ascot Stakes next, on day one of the showpiece meeting, following 7-1 shot Frankenstella’s length victory from Rajinksy.

Jockey Jason Hart was rewarded for his patience as Frankenstella eventually stayed on best over two miles, and the North Yorkshire handler said: “She was in the process of running a big race at York (last time), and she went between two and just got stopped.

“She’s a big animal, and couldn’t get going again. But she came out of the race well, and we thought this trip, track and a bit of ease in the ground would suit her.

“All being well maybe, it will be the two-and-a-half-mile handicap at Royal Ascot – that’s the next plan.”