David Barron’s Maunby raider Pearl Secret finally landed the big prize his connections always felt he had in him when winning the Betfred.com Temple Stakes at Haydock.
Second in the race 12 months ago to Hot Streak, also owned by Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing, he this time held off the fast-finishing Jack Dexter and Wind Fire to win by a neck and half a length.
Hot Streak, the choice of Oisin Murphy, who picked up a three-day ban for careless riding, was sent off the 7-2 favourite but could only finish sixth, while G Force, the only Group One winner in the field, met trouble in running and crossed the line in eighth.
George Baker stepped in for the winning ride, just like he had done in 2012 on Roger Charlton’s Bated Breath.
Ascot beckons for the winner, but only if the ground is suitable, although that was the case when he ran disappointingly on his reappearance behind Mecca’s Angel in France.
“Despite the ground being described as good, the winning time was slower than last year when the going was described as soft. We’ve been waiting for that to happen for a while. It’s always a bit difficult with him, though, as he needs some give in the ground,” said Barron.
“We trained him all winter and never missed a day, and then when he ran in France two weeks ago he ran so badly we wondered why we’d bothered. I gave him a piece of work on Monday which was very good and that’s all I’ve done with him. He wouldn’t go to Ascot if it was firm, as he wants the ground no quicker than today. He’s always been very quick, and has taken our eye from day one.”
Nawton trainer David O’Meara was just glad G Force lives to fight another day after a rough passage.
“He was lucky not to get brought down, as he clipped heels. It’s a shame as he was in the process of running a nice race,” said O’Meara. O’Meara had better luck with Eccleston (10-1) in the sprint handicap. He said: “I didn’t put him in the Wokingham, would you believe, the Great St Wilfrid and then Ayr might come into it.”
Elsewhere on the card, Brian Meehan’s Mutarakez (2-1 favourite) justified strong support to win the Betfred Mobile Silver Bowl impressively for Paul Hanagan. And Norton trainer Brian Ellison is preparing a big assault on the Northumberland Plate and after saddling Seamour and Totalize to finish first and second in the Betfred Membership “Play Your Way” Handicap he can go to Newcastle with confidence.
“Both of those two will go for the Plate, as will Montefeltro (ninth) and one or two others,” said Ellison. “He’s a good horse, this. He won that off 85 so I hope he goes up enough to get in.”
Fabricate (100-30) sparked Royal Ascot dreams for the Queen when winning the Betfred Supports Jack Berry Handicap while James Tate’s Blhadawa caused a 28-1 surprise in the Listed Betfred TV EBF Stallion Stakes for fillies’ only. Martin Harley landed the card’s finale on Amazour.