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Haydock Temple Stakes Preview

Hi all,

Inside today’s main piece, I’m taking an early look at an exciting Classic weekend of action.

Unpredictable Flat Season: High Odds Winners Abound Leaving Punters Bemused

Last Saturday’s Lockinge Stakes epitomized the unpredictable start of this flat season. The form isn't holding up, and I’m struggling to understand why. Though it’s only May and form lines typically become clearer by June, it remains puzzling.

Many fancied horses are underperforming, and we’ve seen 50/1 and 33/1 Group winners, as well as Classic winners at 16/1 and 28/1. These results are happening at our premier racecourses and not on testing ground either.

Maybe my memory is playing tricks but it seems the strangest starts to a flat season I can recall.

British Group & Listed Races

2000 Guineas – 16/1

1000 Guineas – 28/1

Lockinge – 22/1

On Course Profits free Horse Racing magazine

Jockey Club – 50/1

Nell Gwyn – 18/1

Abernant – 33/1

Greenham – 16/1

Palace House – 33/1

Pretty Polly – 10/1

Feilden – 11/1

Craven Stakes and the Dante Stakes were won by horses at single digit odds. However, the Craven Stakes went the way of the 5th fav of 7 (17/2) and the Dante the 4th Fav of 7 (6/1).

French Classics:

2000 Guineas – 24/1

1000 Guineas – 30/1.

This unpredictability at the highest level is bewildering and frustrating in equal measures.

Looking Ahead to the Weekend

The weekend’s big race action kicks off on Friday with the start of the three-day Tattersalls Irish Guineas Festival at the Curragh. The highlight of day one is the Quinn Bet Emerald Mile Handicap (7.20), offering €59,000 to the winner. Johnny Murtagh, who trained last year’s winner Rahmi, could aim for back-back successes in the race with the latter and stablemate and C&D winner Blues Emperor.

Saturday features the first Irish Classic, the 2,000 Guineas (3.40) at the Curragh. Notable Speech, winner of the 2000 Guineas, isn’t entered, but Newmarket second Rosallion and third Haatem could make the trip across the Irish Sea. The Curragh undercard includes the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes (2.30) over 6f. Last year’s winner Art Power will bid to make 4 from 4 over C&D.

Top sprinters will also be in action at Haydock. The feature races are the Group 2 Betfred Temple Stakes (1:50) over 5f and the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Sandy Lane Stakes (2:25) over 6f, which could see the seasonal return of top juvenile sprinter Vandeek.

At York, the Group 3 Bronte Cup (3:20) will is the feature contest, and there’s Listed action at Goodwood with the Height Of Fashion Stakes (2.05) and the Cocked Hat Stakes (3.45).

ITV Racing will cover nine races from Haydock, Goodwood, and York, along with the Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday afternoon. With so much racing this Saturday, many horses have multiple entries, making it a challenging for punters thinking of having ante post bets.

Irish 2000 Guineas Preview

Given the unpredictability of recent form, do you trust the form book, or will you throw a dart at a longshot? If you're backing form, then 2000 Guineas runner-up Rosallion is your horse. However, with up to 15mm of rain expected at the Curragh, his preference for quick ground raises questions about his participation. Stablemate Haatem isn’t quite up to Rosallion’s level, likely competing for place money again.

Aidan O’Brien might field River Tiber, but there are concerns about his stamina for a mile, and O’Brien’s three-year-olds needed their first run this season. This also applies to Unquestionable, who would be making his seasonal debut after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November. Other O’Brien possibles include Diego Velazquez ran well from a wide draw when fourth in the French 2000 Guineas, but he might be headed for the French Derby. This leaves the promising but inexperienced Leopardstown maiden winner Igor Stravinsky.

Among the others, 2000 Guineas sixth Inisherin stands out. He has 3 ½ lengths to make up on Rosallion from their Newmarket run, but that was only his third start, and he lacked experience. He could get closer to Rosallion and Haatem, but being by Shamardal, rain-softened ground would be a concern for him. To complicate matters he also holds an entry in Saturday’s Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock.

Saturday Haydock

The going at Haydock was being described as good on Monday afternoon. However, there could be north of 40mm of rain up to Friday so it is worth bearing that in mind if you’re thinking of having an ante post bet in Saturday’s races.

Here's the Racing Post's Haydock course map.

Group 2 Temple Stakes Preview

The speedy Live In The Dream was the bookies' early favourite at 7/2. Last year's Nunthorpe winner was third in this race last year and doesn't have to carry a Group 1 penalty for his York success.

Australian challenger Asfoora, heading to Royal Ascot for the King Charles III Stakes, is priced at 9/2 with William Hill. Although I'm not certain about the mare's form, her Racing Post Ratings (RPRs) place her joint top with Live In The Dream.

Rogue Lightning (5/1), another contender for the King Charles III Stakes, won a couple of handicaps last year before improving to win a Listed race at Doncaster. An unlucky 1 ¼ length fifth of 18 to Highfield Princess in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp. I think he’ll prove up to this class as a 4-year-old.

Regional (11/2) carries a 5lb penalty for his win in the Group 1 Betfair Sprint Cup Stakes here (6f). He appears to be held by Live In The Dream on their Nunthorpe running and has to give that one 5lb. However, on the plus side, he's 3 from 3 at Haydock, and his form figures on a return from a 121+ day layoff are an impressive 1161.

Karl Burke, who won this race last year with the 3-year-old filly, could saddle another in Beautiful Diamond (8/1). She was a neck third of eight to Seven Questions in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes on her return to action. She will be sharper for her Newmarket run and could be a player. One place in front of her that day was Vadream (16/1) but she’s better in the mud.

Equilateral (16/1) goes well fresh and was a length runner-up in last year’s race and could place if he gets quick ground.

Temple Stakes Verdict:

With the reputation of Australian sprinters, maximum respect must be given to Asfoora. Live In The Dream's claims are undeniable, especially given the race conditions means he doesn’t carry a Group 1 penalty. While Regional's penalty is a concern, his outstanding course record and ability to run well fresh make him a contender. If the rain does arrive in the forecast amounts and it turned soft you would have to have Vadream on your shortlist. Personally, I like Rogue Lightning, now running in the Wathnan Racing colours. If he's primed for his seasonal return, I believe he can emerge victorious in an intriguing renewal.

If you want Saturday selections and Epsom Derby Festival picks, you can get them here. Use coupon code VICTOR30 at checkout and you’ll get a 30% discount.

Wednesday Racing

I'm on a shocking run of form, which continued yesterday when the well-backed Sarsons Risk took a false step and broke down. Sadly, he has joined an increasing list of recent equine fatalities. Is it just me, or are we suddenly seeing a lot more horses breaking down on the flat?

Little has been said in the racing media about this issue. For what it’s worth, I believe we have the weakest generation of thoroughbreds. If I'm right, we can expect more fatalities, and racings authorities shouldn't underestimate the impact these tragedies will eventually have on the sport.

Losing runs happen, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that we had a fantastic 1000 Guineas Day. Things will turn around soon enough.


Wednesday’s most valuable race is the 1m 2f Listed Rothesay Stakes (3.20) at Ayr which has £26,654 on offer to the winner.

It's eased to good ground and some more rain is forecast. How much arrives could decide the outcome of this contest.

Heartache Tonight is the best of the eight fillies on OR’s and is a worthy favourite. She needed her seasonal return at Newmarket 17 days ago and she’ll a appreciate the forecast rain. Verbier put in a much improved effort when 4th of 8 in a Listed race Lingfield last December. Hood goes on for the first time and the daughter of Frankel could do better as 4-year-old. Mistral Star ended last season with an improved effort when 2nd of 9 in a Saint-Cloud Listed contest in September. Trainer Hughie Morrison told the Racing Post he’s hoping they don’t get too much rain. Likely to be there or thereabouts on her seasonal return. The latter is my idea of the winner but the trainers comments regarding soft ground must be taken into consideration.

Born Ruler looks to have a good chance in the 1m 2f handicap (4:55).  Steadily progressive last season the 4-year-old returned to action with a good 2 length 2nd of 6 at Lingfield 20 days ago. Off the same mark as last time and Luke Morris takes over from an inexperienced apprentice. Trainer Sir Mark Prescott had a winner at Nottingham on Tuesday and is 2 from 6 with his runners at Ayr in the past five years.


Aim For The Moon has leading the claims in the 1m 2f handicap (3:00). The lightly raced 7-year-old posted career best effort on RPR’s when winning over C&D 22 days. Up 6lb but that was the mares first start at the distance and I think she can follow up here.

I like the look of Game Set in the mile handicap (6:00) at Kempton. The 4-year-old looked useful when his first starts last season at Doncaster and Wolverhampton before running poorly on soft ground last July.  First run since a gelding operation over the winter and looks capable of better for the step up to a mile for the first time.

Wednesday Selection:


6:00 – Game Set – 5/1.

Good luck with your Wednesday bets.


2 thoughts on “Haydock Temple Stakes Preview”

  1. It has been a very unpredictable first few months of the season for sure.
    (Can’t wait for Chel)
    If any of the Classic winners names, both here and in France, had been known at the start of the flat season, we all would have scratched our heads as much as we did after the actual events.(French 1000gns apart, for me..not boasting, just saying).
    The Derby seems to fall apart in the lead up to Epsom year in year out these days as well and Paul Kealy summed it up last weekend by stating that whilst the 4th Classic used to be the premier 3yr old event of the season, it’s now just another race.
    Sad, but true.
    It has been extremely upsetting and tragic to see all of these beautiful horses breaking down in recent weeks. We almost don’t expect it to happen on the flat, it’s just heartbreaking (obviously in both spheres) and if you have taken a particular horse to heart and you witness a life ending injury (Hidden Law had me reaching for the tissues) it really does wrench; we love our horses, amazing, beautiful, but fragile animals. Maybe the continual wet weather over the past few months and then flash warm spells, has affected the ground (both at training facilities and on courses) alot more than we realise and is having a bearing on so many fatalities?
    Who knows?
    Let’s just hope our equine heroes don’t have to suffer further in the coming months.

    1. Hi Rick,

      Don’t mention the C word, haha.

      PK is right the Derby isn’t the race it was otherwise connections of Economics wouldn’t hestiate to put the horse back into the race. As for the equine fatalties I think the ground could be a factor but i also feel the sport has been breeding from weak horses who tended not to race on genuinely quick ground. The number of mares who never raced looks to me to be an all time high. Who really knows why they never got to the track but I suspect the word robustness comes to mind.

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