Liberty Beach made all the running on her return to action to gamely win the Casumo Best Odds Guaranteed Temple Stakes at Haydock.
John Quinn’s filly had some top-class form to her name last season, including on her most recent outing when third in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp in October.
All of her rivals bar stable companion Keep Busy had the advantage of a run on their side, but Jason Hart’s mount showed her usual early speed on leaving the stalls.
She soon seized an advantage and was doing things easily on the front end while the rest of the field were struggling to keep tabs on her at halfway.
With a furlong to run, it looked as if Liberty Beach (13-8 favourite) was going to register a ready win, but the lack of a recent outing allied to testing ground began to take its toll and her stride started to shorten.
Karl Burke’s Ainsdale, who had been one of the first off the bridle but is a soft-ground specialist, and his stable companion Lady In France began to close all the time, but the line came just too late for both, with Liberty Beach holding off Ainsdale by a neck.
The winner was trimmed to 8-1 from 10s for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in which she was third to Battaash last year.
“A very good day – she’s very quick,” said Quinn.
“This filly has won three times first time out – the other filly (Keep Busy) has never won first time out.
“The two of them are in the King’s Stand, and they’ll go there.
“She ran a good race in it last year, only nine days after winning the Cecil Frail here.
“She (also) ran a very good race in the Queen Mary as a two-year-old.
“I’m delighted. She had to be tough – 50 yards from the line, I thought ‘Oh socks!’. But she dug deep – and as Jason (Hart) said, nothing passed her after the line.”
With the standout five-furlong performer Battaash having met with a minor setback which delayed his return to training this season, Quinn hopes race fitness could play a part at Ascot.
“As you know well, it’s nice to get them out and get a run into them. Anyone can only do so much at home, so to have a run into both of these is vital really,” he said.
“She has a lot of class, and a lot of speed. She could have been unbeaten as a two-year-old.
“She might have gone close in the Queen Mary (with a better draw) – she was second in the Lowther when the winner made the running and kicked.
“We didn’t know whether she’d get six.
“Then last year she had a very good year. Her last run in the Abbaye was very good.
“She’s won on good to firm, good, soft, heavy – both these fillies are very versatile.
“The two of them are very good. One has sparked on the day, and the other things just didn’t go for her. That’s horseracing – there’ll be another day for her.”