12 runners involved in Saturday’s standout race at Haydock Park
The John Of Gaunt Stakes, also known until recently as the Timeform Jury Stakes is a Group Three flat race run at Haydock Park over seven furlongs.
The race was sponsored by the Timeform organisation from 2009 to 2016, but a new sponsor has come along in 2017 and the race has reverted back to its original name.
The name of the race refers to the very first Duke Of Lancaster (14th century) who presided over the land that Haydock Park is now built on.
This Saturday’s renewal sees twelve runners going to post. They are a mixed bunch of seasoned campaigners and unexposed four-year-olds. Many of the leading contenders have already shown form good enough to land a race of this nature but a special performance may be needed to capture the first prize of £36,000.
Here is a runner-by-runner guide:
Roger Fell’s six-year-old is very likely to be up there making the running but whether he can make all is another thing.
The gelding is really consistent and boasts a 21% win strike rate plus a £38.00 profit to a £1 level stake. He has also won at Haydock before which is always a positive.
Owned by Qatar Racing, Mr Owen has raced in both France and at Meydan, but a win on British soil as so far eluded him.
Since joining David Simcock the six-year-old has run creditably with his best result coming in the Hyde Stakes at Kempton.
David O’Meara’s So Beloved was third to Absolutely So in last year’s John Of Gaunt and takes his chance again.
He is the senior figure in this field as an eight-year-old, but he ran like a horse half his age to finish second in a valuable York handicap last time out. He is also another course and distance winner in this field.
Tabarrak is another runner who brings course form to the table after taking a listed race over course and distance in good style last month.
Trained by Richard Hannon, Tabarrak is just one of the latest stars to emerge from Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Racing operation and looks a live contender in this race.
Unforgetable Filly won last year’s German 1,000 Guineas at Dusseldorf.
She finished a close third to Di Fede on Monday at Leicester, so it remains to be seen whether she runs in this race.
Larchmont Lad lost last October’s Knocakire Stakes to Making Light on appeal and the cross-channel based horse last ran at York in the Hambleton Handicap where he finished third.
Owned by the Cheveley Park Stud and formerly trained by Richard Hannon, the four-year-old should give his current trainer, David O’Meara, another bold showing.
He was a smart handicapper for Roger Varian in 2017, winning three times, including handicaps at Windsor and Doncaster.
He shaped better than the bare result on his first start for Clive Cox in a listed race at Leicester last month and was entered for the Lockinge Stakes but was declared a non-runner on the day. Connections clearly think a lot of him.
Yet another course and distance winner, the Andrew Balding-trained Donjuan Triumphant, who was second at Leicester in April, is entered on Saturday as is his conqueror that day, the Roger Varian-trained Emmaus.
Balding’s sprint ace landed the rearranged Ayr Gold Cup in heavy conditions on the final day of Haydock’s flat season last September, but the going this weekend will be a major concern on this occasion.
Dutch Connection was fourth, beaten just under four lengths, behind Rhododendron in the Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on his seasonal return last month.
The Godolphin-owned six-year-old is taking a highly significant drop in class which has worked the oracle in the past. Dutch Connection has been campaigned at Group 1 and 2 level over the past three seasons and he has won on the two occasions that he has been dropped to this grade in the past.
Roger Varian’s Emmaus has been vying for favouritism with the Richard Hannon-trained course and distance winner Tabarrak all week.
Emmaus returned from a year off to pip favourite Sir Dancealot in the Wreake Handicap at Leicester, form which was franked on Wednesday when Sir Dancelot went in at Hamilton.
The four-year-old has only made it to the track a total of four times, winning on all three of his trips to Leicester, with his only defeat coming in a Listed race at Deauville in 2016.
The four-year-old spent the winter racing at Meydan, racing three times and finishing in the places three times.
He is a natural front-runner and should be up there early doors contesting the lead with Muntadab.
The colt has scored four times in his eleven starts and Richard Hannon rates him highly.
The Charlie Appleby-trained D’bai is another four-year-old to note. He also enjoyed a productive trip to Dubai and ran well on his first race back in the UK when finishing second to The Tin Man in the Weatherbys Hamilton Leisure Stakes at Windsor.
The Derby winning combination of Appleby and Buick team up once again here and who would bet against yet another high profile winner from the boys in blue?
With the Godolphin stable very much back in the headlines at the moment after their Investec Derby win last Saturday, they may be right on the verge of a resurgence of form.
Dutch Connection’s class drop and Charlie Appleby’s top training skills could quite easily fuse together to produce a Godolphin one-two in this Haydock feature.
In which order they finish, we will have to wait and see?