There’s a full card at Haydock Park this Saturday which includes one of the biggest races of the weekend in the Listed Achilles Stakes.
Open to horses aged three years and above, the race goes off over a distance of five furlongs on the Merseyside course.
With Royal Ascot on the minds and on the horizon, this Haydock race, as ever, could have a say in where we faithfully put our money in just a few weeks’ time.
Key to this is the Achilles Stakes at 2.20 which could propose a likely winner for either of the royal meeting’s Group One sprints, or maybe even the Wokingham, from any of the five furlong sprinters in its field.
El Astronaute Back To Defend His Crown
One of the fastest five furlong horses around, last year’s winner El Astronaute is back to defend the crown he won for John Quinn so impressively last year.
Whether he travels to the Berkshire track in June is another thing, but he starts here as favourite, buoyed by a nice and enjoyable winning run out Chester earlier this month, where he saw off the challenge of King’s Lynn, one of his main rivals this coming Saturday.
That was in the Boodles Conditions Stakes, in Class Three company on good to soft ground.
The worry for this particular eight year old is that the going for the weekend is predicted to be heavy with more rain expected to drop before Saturday which could make for a long last furlong for him.
His previous win coming in good conditions at Doncaster last summer. If the surface plays fair, his frightening early pace should allow him to eat up the ground if he’s on his A game and take the race almost as soon as it starts.
The Achilles will require a tad more stamina than the Boodles, however, and with this horse everything depends on the going.
If the conditions are not to his liking, others could very well prosper in what could become a wide open race where there are plenty of valid cases to be made for the other entrants in the field.
King’s Lynn To Turn Tables On Rival
Andrew Balding’s King’s Lynn enjoys this company and is a sprinter that holds no worries over five furlongs. He could easily take this one down and turn the tables on El Astronaute which could allow him to book a place in the King’s Stand field at the same time.
There is plenty of reason, not least the fact that he has saved his best for Doncaster’s straight six furlongs, to believe that the five straight miles of Haydock Park could suit King’s Lynn better than the Roodee’s round track.
Oisin Murphy’s mount has the toolkit for one furling under as well and in the mud he could well finish strongly in a race that looks guaranteed to set off at an electric fast pace.
Elsewhere, nine year old Judicial could lay down a claim, again if the track allows.
Julie Camacho’s Gelding enjoys this distance and has the CV to prove it, boasting a superb record sprinting over similar runs.
Stablemate Makanah looked somewhere close to his best at York last time out and might prove to be the wiser pick of the yard’s two runners.
Should the ground indeed turn out to be soft then it could be to the liking of Moss Gill who enjoys such a going.
Ed Bethell’s charge might have disappointed at Meydan in March but I wouldn’t let that put me off, especially if the conditions are favourable.
James Tate’s Wise Words recently went well at Bath on her first run of the season and the 7/1 is an agreeable price.
9/1 shot Aljady is certainly one to keep an eye out for. Robert Cowell’s six-year-old found a fifth place finish in a Group Three at Newmarket recently and is known to stay well beyond this mark.
Best Of The Rest
There is certainly potential in backing Tarboosh, at the very least each way.
He has after all placed in the last two renewals of this race, finishing second by half a length behind last year’s winner, and this year’s favourite, El Astronaute in his run at Doncaster last June, and coming home third the year previous to that in pre-covid times when the race was held here at Haydock.
Haydock was also the scene for a fine five furlong second place in September 2018 when he was beaten a neck by Dakota Gold, who was at that time rated 90 off a mark of 102.
His winning performance at Doncaster in a Listed runout with Urban Beat last September ensures he carries a 3lb penalty which leaves him third here behind El Astronaute and Moss Gill officially.
Following another wind operation, he came in sixth at Musselburgh last time out, but two months have passed since then and he should go better here, running for a trainer who has won this race previously when Final Venture took the prize in 2017.
The final contender could be the lightly raced Zargun.
Since arriving from Germany, Scott Dixon’s runner has chalked up just three runs, including a pair of excellent handicap performances on York’s Knavesmire over six furlongs and a five furlongs respectively.
The first of these was at the Dante meeting where he followed home Mr Lupton, before he posted another third, this time behind Pendleton.
On both occasions, which were only ten days apart, he went very well and we have seen it many times before that such a strong showing in handicap company can develop into good Listed showings.
To that end, his two figured price might be too good to turn down.
Achilles Stakes 2021 Betting Odds
- El Astronaute – 4/1
- Moss Gill – 5/1
- Judicial – 13/2
- Kings Lynn – 6/1
- Motagally – 7/1
- Wise Words – 7/1
- Makanah – 15/2
- Tarboosh – 8/1
- Aljady – 9/1
- Desert Safari – 11/1
- Count dOrsay – 10/1
- Zargun – 12/1
- Dubai Station -11/1
- Rocket Action -14/1
- Glamorous Anna – 20/1
- Ornate – 20/1
- Ishvara – 28/1
- Spoof – 40/1