Great Britain Preview: Spot Plays for May 28
It’s a relatively quiet weekend in Britain and Ireland as the best staying three-year-olds get ready for the Oaks and the Derby at Epsom next weekend. The focus is on Haydock, between Liverpool and Manchester, where two Group 3 races highlight the card.
Haydock Park, Race 2: Achilles Stakes (Listed), 5 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up
An intriguing contest here. The best-performed horse by some distance is #4 Dragon Symbol, who placed several times at Group 1 level last year. However, he was a disappointing seventh of nine, 12 lengths from the winner, when resuming in the Duke of York S. (G2) at York May 11, his first start for Roger Varian. At his best he would win, but he didn’t run well either in his final 2021 start, his 11th race of the year, and it’s possible the exertions of his busy campaign have caught up with him.
With doubts about him, I’m going for #3 Clarendon House. He only just went down to race rival #7 Raasel two starts back when giving him five pounds and then ran fourth at Group 3 level at Longchamp May 15. Back on English soil, he should give a good account of himself and go close to winning.
- $10 win/$30 show: #3 Clarendon House
Haydock Park, Race 4: Pinnacle Stakes (G3), 1 1/2 miles, 4-year-old and up fillies and mares
The question here is whether to go with the highest-rated fillies or the ones with proven 1 1/2-mile stamina. #2 Climate is the best horse in the field on official ratings after a close fourth to Dreamloper in the Dahlia Stakes (G2) May 1, just ahead of #8 Noon Star, a nice winner of the Listed Nottinghamshire Oaks April 26. Neither, however, has raced past 1 1/4 miles; both are by Epsom Derby winners out of mares by stallions more biased to shorter distances.
#9 Sea La Rosa isn’t rated far off Climate and Noon Star, but she at least has produced her best form over 1 1/2 miles; the biggest question over her is possibly her readiness as this is her first race of the season. #6 Lady Hayes is another proven at this distance, her best effort being a second placing in last year’s Lancashire Oaks (G2), and she put in a great effort when resuming in the Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes (Listed) at Goodwood April 29. In an open race, I’m going to go with Lady Hayes.
- $20 win/show: #6 Lady Hayes
Haydock Park, Race 5: John of Gaunt Stakes (G3), 7 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up
There are only eight horses in the John of Gaunt Stakes, but it’s a remarkably even lineup, where six or seven could realistically win, and the odds could be better than expected. However, it would be no surprise if last year’s winner, #3 Kinross, proved triumphant. It is his first race for some time, but that didn’t stop him winning this comfortably in 2021.
Perhaps most notably, Kinross has proven very well suited at seven furlongs. Not only did he win this race last year, he also won the Lennox S. (G2) at Goodwood and finished fourth to subsequent Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Space Blues in the Prix de la Foret (G1) at Longchamp. He looks the one to beat.
#2 Happy Power is in good form and should run well again, but don’t be surprised if there is a form turnaround for #8 Sunray Major. He has finished fifth and sixth in his last two starts, both over a mile, and he returns this start to seven furlongs, in which he is unbeaten in two races.
- $10 win/$30 show: #3 Kinross
- $1 trifecta: 3, 8 with 2, 3, 8 with all