SUPER SATURDAY AT HAYDOCK PARK THIS WEEKEND - James Eustace going for bet365 Lancashire Oaks glory with Ruby Wine & Michael Jarvis aiming Maktub at bet365 Old Newton Cup
Haydock Park hosts a brilliant seven-race programme this Saturday, July 2, featuring both the £90,000 Group Two bet365 Lancashire Oaks (2.20pm), over a mile and four furlongs, and the £75,000 bet365 Old Newton Cup Heritage Handicap, over the same distance, at 2.50pm.
Saturday's card is the climax of a three-day meeting at Haydock beginning on Thursday, June 30, and also encompassing the evening of Friday, July 1.
A total of 19 high-class fillies have been entered for the bet365 Lancashire Oaks including John Dunlop's Thakafaat and the John Gosden-trained Twyla Tharp, who were first and second in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot at York, and Godolphin's Punctilious, who won the same race last year after finishing third to Ouija Board in the 2004 Vodafone Oaks.
Other notable entries include Gosden's Playful Act, one-time favourite for this year's Vodafone Oaks on the strength of her win in the 2004 Group One Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile at Ascot, who could make her seasonal debut after being slow to come to hand this year, and Listed Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks (for the Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) heroine Alumni, trained by Barry Hills.
Ruby Wine, who won the 10-furlong Listed Lord Weinstock Memorial Stakes at Newbury earlier this month, when getting up close home to beat Karliyna by half a length, is an intriguing contender from James Eustace's stable.
Eustace revealed today: "The plan is for Ruby Wine to go to Haydock for the bet365 Lancashire Oaks this weekend. She has come out of the Newbury race fine - I've been very happy and pleased with her since then.
"To be honest, she is a home-bred filly that is destined to go home as a broodmare and, if you like, we've cracked it already in that she's a winner and has won a Listed race and after that, anything is a bonus.
"I think she is a very nice filly who will improve for the step up in trip and it wouldn't surprise me if she was improving anyway because I feel she definitely improved from her first run to the Listed race and I have been very pleased with her since then so it wouldn't surprise me if she has improved a little bit again.
"Obviously if she can keep improving a little bit then who knows? I have put her in the Yorkshire Oaks - we would only go there if she won or ran really well on Saturday. Otherwise we would think about the Chalice which is a Listed fillies' event back at Newbury over a mile and a half at the end of this month. And then later on in the Park Hill.
"The honest answer is I don't know what chance she has on Saturday - we are going there hopeful, obviously she's taking on older mares for the first time and I don't know how they measure up. She certainly won't disgrace anyone because I have been very happy with her since Newbury and we'll hopefully go and enjoy finding out how the different generations compare."
Simon Marsh, racing manager to owner Lord Lloyd-Webber, added: "There is no decision made yet on Twyla Tharp's participation in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks - I haven't even talked to Mr Gosden to be honest so I don't know what we are doing. We will know later in the week."
The bet365 Old Newton Cup Heritage Handicap has attracted 30 entries at the five-day stage including the Queen's Promotion and Tawqeet, trained by John Dunlop, who are joint 5/1 favourites with the sponsor.
The former went off favourite for the Listed Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot at York last week, finishing just under 12 lengths in fifth behind stable companion Imperial Stride, while Tawqeet won a Newbury handicap by six lengths from Sirce earlier this month.
Other leading fancies include the Mark Johnston-trained pair of Golden Quest (7/1) and Quizzene (8/1) and Flamboyant Lad, trained by Barry Hills, who is also an 8/1 chance.
Golden Quest won the 888.com Poker Handicap at Haydock on June 4, before finding just Leg Spinner a head too powerful in the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot at York, while Quizzene was disappointing in the King George V Stakes at the same meeting after two victories in handicaps at Sandown and Chester. Flamboyant Lad was also well beaten at the Royal meeting in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes, having easily beaten subsequent John Smith's Nothumberland Plate hero Sergeant Cecil by three lengths on his previous start in a Newbury handicap in May.
Michael Jarvis, trainer of Maktub (14/1), today revealed that the six-year-old is likely to take his chance after disappointing on his last two starts. Last year he was placed in three Group events including the top-class Gran Premio Di Milano at San Siro in Italy, when coming home two and a half lengths adrift of Senex.
"I think Maktub will probably run in the bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock," said Jarvis.
"The horse had an injury in the autumn of last year when he went to America and I don't know whether he felt something or whether psychologically he wasn't right [on his seasonal debut at Newmarket in May] but anyway Frankie [Dettori, jockey] was very kind to him, sort of giving him the benefit of the doubt and more or less pulling him up.
"He seems okay again now but I think we need to get him on the track and see how he is. He is a very high-class horse on his day - he was bought to make a Cup horse to stay but he palpably doesn't stay. A mile and a half is his best trip.
"We are going to Haydock very much more hopeful than confident - I would just like him to put up a nice show to show that he has still got the will to run."
Andy Clifton, racing manager for Quizzene's owner Favourites Racing VII, which includes BBC broadcaster Rishi Persad, said: "We're not sure at this stage if Quizzene will run in the bet365 Old Newton Cup - he's fit and well enough to make the entry and we'll just have a look at the race over the next couple of days and assess the ground and make a decision towards the end of the week."
Kirkland Tellwright, Haydock's Clerk of the Course, reported the current going as, "Good to Firm, watering to maintain."
For further information, please contact Adam Waterworth, Haydock Park's Managing Director, on 01942 725963, or visit www.haydock-park.co.uk
LATEST bet365 PRICES ON THE bet365 OLD NEWTON CUP
Golden Quest 7/1
Flamboyant Lad 8/1
Come On Jonny 12/1
I'm So Lucky 14/1
Mango Mischief 16/1
Marias Magic 16/1
Pagan Sky 16/1
Big Moment 20/1
Red Lancer 20/1
Pagan Dance 25/1
Jazz Scene 33/1
Royal Cavalier 33/1
Each-way 1/4 1-2-3-4
NOSEDA SPRINT DUO PRIMED FOR DARLEY JULY CUP - La Chunga or Salut D'Amour to run in Cherry Hinton
Jeremy Noseda, whose Newmarket stable remains in flying form, is preparing a strong team for next week's July Meeting, Newmarket's summer racing festival with over £1 million in prize money and six Group races. His top sprinters, Soldier's Tale and Balmont, will both run in the £250,000 Darley July Cup (Group 1) on Thursday, July 7, while one of his star two-year-old fillies, La Chunga or Salut D'Amour, will contest the £70,000 Chippenham Lodge Stud Cherry Hinton Stakes (Group 2) on the opening day, Tuesday, July 5.
Confirming that Solidier's Tale had taken Saturday's victory at Newcastle in the John Smith's "Extra Cold" Chipchase Stakes (Group 3) in his stride, Noseda said today: "He's in good form and touch-wood will now head for the July Cup next week. He's definitely worth his place in the field - I believe he's a pretty serious horse."
Noseda said that Balmont, who finished third in last year's Darley July Cup and was beaten only a length when third in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Meeting at York 10 days ago, will also take his chance in the race which almost invariably identifies Europe's champion sprinter. "Balmont runs as well. I don't want to go into comparisons between the two, but both will go there with serious chances. All you hope is that both stay in good nick until next week."
The showdown between Soldier's Tale and Iffraaj, two unexposed Newmarket-trained sprinters with a similar profile and who look set to dominate the ante-post market for the Darley July Cup, is an enthralling prospect. Noseda would not be drawn into comparing his charge with the Michael Jarvis-trained Wokingham winner, whom Soldier's Tale would have met at York had the ground not been so firm. "I don't worry about other people's horses, I just concern myself with my own," he said.
La Chunga was one of the most impressive winners at the Royal Meeting when slamming her stablemate Vague by an easy 3 ½ lengths in the Albany Stakes (Group 3) over six furlongs. Either she or Salut D'Amour, who stayed on to finish a fine second to Flashy Wings in the Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) over 5 furlongs at York, will represent Noseda in the Chippenham Lodge Stud Cherry Hinton Stakes. The former would have to shoulder a 3lb penalty in the race as a Group 3 winner, while the latter would be tackling six furlongs for the first time if she lines up on Tuesday.
"They will work later this week and then I'll decide which one runs," said Noseda today. Asked to compare them, he said: "I've only worked them together once after which my conclusion was that La Chunga was five lengths better, but that was a few weeks ago and they won't be working together again. Salut D'Amour will definitely be a better filly over six furlongs than she's been over five so far."