Saturday 26th May, Haydock, 4:00pm, 5f, Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo+)
The Temple Stakes is run over the minimum trip of 5 furlongs and is open to horses aged three or older, with three year old runners benefitting from and age for weight allowance of 8lbs. The race was established in 1965 and was run at Sandown Park before it was relocated to Haydock Park in 2008.
A good run in the Temple Stakes often means that a horse will run in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and several horses have gone on to do the double, most recently Profitable in 2016.
Since the race was moved to Haydock six of the 10 renewals have been won by horses ages between four and five years old. Two winners have been three year olds. Three favourites have won in this time with seven of the 10 winners coming out of the first three in the betting.
Seven of the 10 winners had run previously in the season but only two boasted previous wins earlier in the current campaign. Winning form over 5 furlongs is clearly important with 11 of the last 12 winners having at least two previous wins over the distance. Half of the winners at Haydock had previous course form and in the case of three of the winners, they had won previously at the course.
An official Rating of 107 or higher has been needed to win the race in 10 of the last 12 renewals and seven of those winners also had at least one win in Group racing.
If the Charles Hill-trained Battaash keeps himself under control in the preliminaries it is very hard to see anything beating him. Charles Hill commented in the Racing Post on Wednesday that Battaash is calmer now than he has ever been: “You’ve seen him this morning and if you go in his box he’s like a pony,” added Hills, who is eyeing the Darley July Cup if all goes to plan. “It’s when he goes to the racecourse he knows what he’s there for and that’s probably the reason he’s as fast as he is, because he switches on.
“He’s had a few issues with the stalls, but we’ve had Gary and Craig Witheford down and he’s been good; he hasn’t put a foot wrong. He puts his gameface on at the races. Sometimes the occasion – like at York before the Nunthorpe – gets to him, but he hasn’t shown any signs of that this year.
“After the Temple and King’s Stand I’d love to have a go at six furlongs.”
His last run was in the Gruop 1 Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc day when he destroyed a strong field by 4 lengths. He will be difficult to back as he will go off as the odds on favourite but as his trainer considers that he has improved by 2lb to 3lb over the winter he will take all of the beating running off an Official Rating of 123, some 10lbs higher than anything else in the field.
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