A TOP-NOTCH card at Haydock helps light up the weekend with Limato promising to be the star of the show in the 888sport Sandy Lane Stakes.
It is a pity this horse is a gelding, with any Classic dreams over the winter precluded on those grounds.
For few juveniles caught the imagination as much as Henry Candy’s charge last year, with a four-race campaign rounded off with a defeat of the very capable Mattmu at Redcar that had to be seen to be believed. Graham Lee’s mount was never off the bridle in cruising to a length and a half success that has been well advertised by the runner-up since.
Candy was a little worried before Limato’s return at Ascot last month that he had, perhaps, not been showing the same brilliance on the gallops at home, but he need not have worried as his star took his run to five with a straightforward performance. Adding further credence to the notion his talent remains very much intact is third-placed Adaay coming out to land a nice Listed pot, looking pretty smart himself in the process.
It will be a major surprise if he is beaten and all roads should continue to lead to Royal Ascot and the inaugural Commonwealth Cup.
It could be a big afternoon for Candy, with his Music Master the pick in the 888sport Achilles Stakes. The five-year-old showed he can mix at the very highest level with valiant efforts in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and the Sprint Cup at this track last season and he is fully entitled to improve from his comeback third in the Abernant at Newmarket.
It will be interesting to see how he fares dropping back to five furlongs for the first time in his career.
Roger Varian knows what it takes to win the 888sport Pinnacle Stakes and again has a leading contender in Talmada.
Quite progressive last season, her trainer thought enough of the Cape Cross filly to try her in the Middleton Stakes at York first time up this year and she lost little in defeat to Secret Gesture.
She also holds a Group One engagement at the Curragh next month and, as Varian has taken two of the last four runnings of the Haydock race, her presence is worthy of note.
The quality theme on Merseyside continues in the Timeform Jury Stakes, where Captain Cat cannot be ignored. Roger Charlton’s six-year-old has kept very good company for a while now and, although not good enough for the Lockinge Stakes, he is a bit better than he showed at Newbury.
Peacock can show his true colours in the winner.co.uk Fairway Stakes at Newmarket. Owned by the Queen, the Richard Hannon-trained colt arrives on a high off the back of his length and a half second to current Derby favourite Golden Horn in the Feilden Stakes on the Rowley Mile. A reproduction of that effort alone should be good enough and his claims are further boosted by an additional furlongs, which seems sure to suit on breeding.
The Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup is one of the main events on a typically strong York card and it is hard to look beyond the admirable Clever Cookie. The seven-year-old dead-heated in this Listed prize 12 months ago, the highlight of an excellent campaign which he signed off by finishing fourth in the Doncaster Cup.
Another to watch out for on the York card is Lexi’s Hero, who can win the the Spring Sprint Cup after an impressive winning seasonal reappearance at Chester.
Peter Niven’s stable star looked better than ever when beating Tac De Boistron in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester earlier this month and, if he can give weight and a beating to some smart rivals on his return to the Knavesmire, he will deserve a crack at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.