So, with D:Ream playing on a loop in my head, I’m going to try and get it all back on the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.
Three fast females won this race from 2007 to 2009, namely Sierra Vista, Fleeting Spirit and Look Busy, and the owner of the first-named, David Metcalfe, has an even classier sort running in his colours in Mecca’s Angel. She beat six next-time-out winners when improving to take the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last August, including runner-up Acapulco, fourth Sole Power and fifth Goldream, and is very much the one to beat on form here, 11 lb clear on the Timeform weight-adjusted ratings receiving 3 lb from the older males.
What’s more, the weather forecast—rain Wednesday, cloud Thursday, scattered showers Friday, rain Saturday—suggests the ground should be in Mecca's Angel’s favour, for all her Nunthorpe win proved she doesn’t need the mud to fly to show her best.
Another owner to have won the Temple before is Sheikh Hamdan, whose Dayjur blitzed the opposition as a three-year-old in 1990 on his way to becoming champion sprinter. His two entries this year are Muthmir and Waady, currently second and third in the betting behind favourite Mecca’s Angel.
Muthmir perhaps hasn’t quite reached the level predicted for him after his Portland Handicap win as a four-year-old in 2014, but he’s a very smart and consistent performer nonetheless, highlighted by his two starts earlier in the year. He finished ahead of both Goldream and Sole Power when fifth in the Al Quoz Sprint won by Buffering at Meydan last time—albeit when none of the three ran to their best form—and is likely to be on the premises again.
I recommended Waady for the Palace House Stakes and he ran a cracker to finish a close third. He’s a horse with stacks of natural ability, but he clearly lives on his nerves somewhat (keen on his last two starts and has worn a hood since his second outing) and may need to simmer down if he’s to fulfil all his potential. An end-to-end gallop over five furlongs is his thing, so he’s always going to need a horse like Take Cover in opposition.
Winner of that Palace House at Newmarket was Profitable who showed improved form as he beat two fellow four-year-olds (Jungle Cat was second). Profitable showed abundant speed as he quickened sharper than Waady out of the favoured stand-side group, and he was well on top inside the final furlong. He was clearly well wound up for the day by Clive Cox and his team, but many people thought the same about the same yard’s Lethal Force after his close second in the 2013 Duke of York Stakes.
Cox suggested after the Palace House that either the Temple Stakes or a race in France on May 16th could be Profitable’s next target before the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, and as he didn’t run in that French event it seems logical to think he’ll turn up here. Four Palace House winners (all in the last six years) may have tried and failed to win the Temple in the same season since Kyllachy did the double in 2002, but Equiano was only just touched off in 2010 and Profitable has a pretty similar profile to Kyllachy as his three-year-old campaign was largely about laying the groundwork for his four-year-old year.
The aforementioned Goldream enjoyed a stellar 2015, winning the Palace House, the King’s Stand a Royal Ascot and the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp. He was disappointing on his two starts in Dubai in March but we know enough about him to suggest he'll be back on song sooner rather than later, and he’s reportedly been working very well recently according to his trainer Robert Cowell. Goldream was only seventh in this race 12 months ago but that race came just three weeks after his return win and he’s had eight weeks to recover this time around, so could be overpriced at 12/1.
Pearl Secret had a recent run under his belt prior to winning last year’s Temple, and he’d had two before his second in the 2014 renewal. He comes here without a prep run this time, however, not seen since finishing a creditable fourth (at 50/1) in the Abbaye last October.
Sole Power won this race in 2011 having finished third in the Palace House; he won the Palace House in both 2013 and 2014 but only ran in this race in 2013 from those years, finishing fourth. He didn’t exactly get the rub of the green when only midfield in the latest Palace House last time, but he found himself in that situation because his old gears seemed missing and he’s probably priced on his former glories at around 10/1.
Steps was clearly rusty when further behind in the Palace House and has tended to come on for his first run over the years, but he’s perhaps just not quite up to winning at this level, while Sir Maximilian won well in a minor event at Chester’s May meeting but wasn’t in the same form when only sixth in a Group 3 at Deauville since.
Also successful at Chester was Kachy who could bid to become the fourth three-year-old to win this race this century following Airwave (2003), the aforementioned Fleeting Spirit and Hot Streak (2014). Last year’s Molecomb winner Kachy was clearly much happier back over five furlongs in Cheshire, having finished last in the Free Handicap on his return, and he remains with potential so would need considering if he runs.
To wrap up—so I can get this song out of my mind—Mecca’s Angel looks a solid favourite and probably should be 2/1 across the boards, while Goldream makes some appeal at 12/1, but the one that has been most underestimated in the betting is Profitable who probably should be around 5/1 and not the 8/1 he is currently. Clive Cox’s charge clearly learnt plenty from being dropped it at the deep end on a couple of occasions last term and it’s not out of the question that he could ‘do a Lethal Force’ in the coming months.
Back Profitable at 8/1 for the Temple Stakes
G2 - Prix Raoul Balliere
G2 - Prix Ariste Hemard
G3 - Victress Stakes
G2 - Premier Trophy
G3 - Challenge Cup