Ante-Post Value – The Temple Stakes
By James Boyle –
13 speed merchants are left in Saturday’s renewal of the Group 2 Temple Stakes (3:45 Haydock) and the only thing I’ll tell you with absolute certainty is that it will be both fast and furious!
That will suit Sole Power to no end and seeing him put in as the favourite at this early stage won’t be a shock to anyone on the back of his win in the Palace House at HQ a couple of weeks ago.
There, he scored by a cosy half-length, but had the benefit of race-fitness over a few rivals that he’s likely to face again and is 11/4-3/1 really worth our while? I don’t particularly think so, despite the fact that he’s a high-class sprinter, and shall oppose. Will he even turn up if it’s soft ground?
Kingsgate Native – winner of this race in 2010 and 2013 – was the half-length second behind Sole Power on that occasion and is likely to improve for what was his first outing on the track since he was well beaten in the Abbaye last October (this is his main target too, you’d have to assume).
I’m sure that some will fancy him but 7/1 about a horse who is as difficult to win with as he is just doesn’t do it for me and, ideally, he would like the ground to come up rattling fast. With rain promised towards the back-end of the week, it’s unlikely to be what’s preferred for him.
One of the most interesting contenders is Kevin Ryan’s 3-year-old, Hot Streak. The son of Iffraaj is battling it out with Sole Power for favouritism having made a highly creditable return to action behind the above mentioned pair at Newmarket. He really does fit into the “could be anything” category for me and should like this flatter track even more, whilst the possibility of rain is nothing but a positive (it was probably a bit quick for him last time; also ran with a penalty then, which he doesn’t now).
I think that he’s the most likely winner here, but the quotes ranging between 9/4 & 3/1 are telling us that anyway and he’s too well-found in the market for my liking. He’s no value.
If the ground does soften up, Pearl Secret comes right into the reckoning despite flopping in the Palace House last time, but Justineo is the one that I’m going to side with. Roger Varian’s 5-year-old appeals as a decent each-way play at 20/1 and doesn’t exactly have much distance to make up on the principals having finished little more than 2-lengths behind Sole Power at Newmarket (made the running and was always likely to be vulnerable for his first outing since October).
Over the minimum trip – given that he’s out of a Montjeu mare and gets 6f well – a bit of dig in the ground wouldn’t go astray and it’s possible that upgrading his return to action is the right thing to do. The flatter track won’t bother him either and although more exposed than most, he looked an improved animal last term and should pick up some form of Group-graded sprint in 2014. Whether this will be a bit too demanding remains to be seen, but his price-tag is surely on the appealing side and an each-way bet is worth our while.
Selection for The Temple Stakes (3:45 at Haydock; Saturday):
Justineo – 20/1 each-way, available generally; 1/4 odds the place with Bet365.
– Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.
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