Last year’s tremendous renewal of the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes saw the brilliantly-fast Battaash (Charlie Hills) recover from a slow start to get up and deny Washington DC by a head with Kachy (Tom Dascombe) in third and Mabs Cross (Michael Dods) in fourth.
Battaash, Kachy and Mabs Cross feature among the 21 entries for the 2019 running.
Following last year’s success, the Lambourn-trained Battaash went on to take second in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and enjoy a second success in the G2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, both also over the minimum distance of five furlongs.
Kachy, who usually makes the running, has carried all before him on the All-Weather over the winter and landed the valuable All-Weather Sprint Championship at Lingfield Park on Good Friday 19th April.
Gutsy Mabs Cross did even better following her fourth in the 2018 Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes, as she took third in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and was beaten just a nose in the G1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York by Alpha Delphini (Bryan Smart).
The five-year-old Dutch Art mare, who races in the colours of the chairman and CEO of the Temple Stakes sponsor David Armstrong who bred her at he and his wife Emma’s Highfield Farm near Chorley in Lancashire, ended 2018 perfectly when landing the G1 Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp, France, in early October, when she had Battaash in fourth and Alpha Delphini back in 11th. Not surprisingly, Mabs Cross was named champion European sprinter at the 2018 Cartier Racing Awards.
Mabs Cross made her seasonal reappearance at Newmarket on 4th May, when she defied a 4lb penalty to land the five-furlong G3 Palace House Stakes for the second year in succession, coming home a neck in front of Equilateral (Charlie Hills), with Major Jumbo (Kevin Ryan) in third, Sergei Prokofiev (Aidan O’Brien IRE) fourth, Ornate (David Griffiths) fifth and El Astronaute (John Quinn) sixth.
Her trainer Michael Dods has also made an entry for Intense Romance, another five-year-old mare who won a handicap over the course and distance last year before going on to Listed wins at Ayr and Ascot.
County Durham-based Dods revealed: “We have entered Mabs Cross for the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes.
“Royal Ascot is the priority (G1 King’s Stand Stakes, 18th June), but the Temple Stakes is sponsored by the Armstrong Group. As long as we feel she is A1, there is every possibility she could go to Haydock.
“She has come out of Newmarket very well. She is a tough horse and takes her racing very well. We are very pleased with her.
“Her priorities this year will again be Royal Ascot, York and France, but if she is a ready and right, we will look at having a go at the Temple.
“Intense Romance is a proper heavy ground horse. For us to think of Haydock for her, we would need to see proper soft ground. With the way the weather is at the moment you never know so we gave her an entry.”
There is strong overseas representation in the 2019 Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes, with seven entries hailing from Ireland and one from France. In addition to Sergei Prokofiev, Ireland’s multiple champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien, responsible for close second Washington DC last year, could also be represented by G1 Cheveley Park Stakes fifth Gossamer Wings, Listed winner All The King’s Men plus San Andreas, The Irish Rover and Fantasy.
The other Irish-trained entry is Son Of Rest (Fozzy Stack), who was runner-up in the G1 Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh last year before going on to dead-heat in the Ayr Gold Cup Heritage Handicap.
The possible French-trained representative is Bakoel Koffie (Mauricio Delcher Sanchez), a Listed winner on his latest start at Fontainebleau in March.
Newmarket handler Robert Cowell is renowned for his handling of sprinters and has entered Pocket Dynamo, runner-up in last season’s G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Completing the entries are Invincible Army (James Tate), who went down by a nose to Sands Of Mali in the G2 Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock Park last year, veteran 10-year-old Caspian Prince (Mick Appleby), a G2 winner in 2017, and Tarboosh (Paul Midgley).
The five-day confirmation stage for the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes is at noon on Monday 20th May, when there is also a chance for horses to be added to the line-up for a £7,500 supplementary entry fee.
The Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes has a tremendous roll of honour and the winners since it came to be run at Haydock Park in 2008 include Fleeting Spirit (2008), Kingsgate Native (2010 & 2013), Sole Power (2011), Profitable (2016) and Priceless (2017).
The Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes, part of British Champions Series, is the feature contest of a terrific seven-race programme at Haydock Park on Saturday 25th May, with all races sponsored by Armstrong Aggregates and sister company Amix, which are based near Bolton.
The main supporting race is the £90,000 G2 Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes, staged over six furlongs for three-year-olds and a leading trial for the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Quiet Reflection (2016) won both races, while 2017 winner Harry Angel and last year’s scorer Sands Of Mali both went on to be placed in the Royal Ascot contest.
The big handicap of the day is the £80,000 Amix Silver Bowl Handicap, staged over a mile for three-year-olds.