Bateel reaches her peak in Haydock's Pinnacle Stakes

Bateel (red) comes home in impressive style
Bateel (red) comes home in impressive style
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Bateel, a rare runner from France at Haydock Park, produced a silk-smooth performance to win the Group Three Betway Pinnacle Stakes, justifying favouritism,

The daughter of Dubawi, trained in France by Francis-Henri Graffard, was confidently handled by jockey Richard Kingscote, who eased the mare home in convincing fashion.

For a split-second it looked as though Bateel, sent off the 2-1 favourite, would be short room, but just as quickly a gap appeared over a furlong out and the jockey had no troubled guiding her home, only resorting to hands and heels asshe prevailed in the style of a high-class horse.

Bateel scored by one-and-a-half lengths from Dubka with Ajman Princess in third place.

Johnnie Peter-Hoblyn, representing the owners Al Asayl Bloodstock, said: "We saw her at her best here and and the good thing is she will get better.

"She was trained last season by David Simcock, but we sent her to be trained in France to get better ground.

"So it's ironic that we have brought her back to England to win a race at Haydock."

Peter-Hoblyn said there were no prior concerns about the soft going that prevailed at Haydock - in fact, quite the opposite.

"She is a different class filly on soft ground.

"We will probably bring Bateel back to Ascot for a race on Champions Day

"Four out of the last five years it has been soft on that day."

Kingscote, who has been in red-hot form at Haydock, said: "We were going there nicely and every gap was easy to take. Then, the orders were to get her settled and down the back she was beautiful. We went a nice, even gallop, which suits, and they said she just loves this ground and they'd been waiting for it.

"It's soft ground and spot on for us. A big thank you to connections for letting me ride her."

Absolutely So stuck on determined fashion to lift the Group Three spoils in the Betway John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock.

The Andrew Balding-trained seven-year-old, who was third in this race in 2015, revelled in the rain-softened conditions to go two places better.

That Is The Spirit set the pace but he was the only one to stick to the far side when the field hit the straight.

Jallota led the near-side group, but he could never go clear under his 3lb penalty. Though he kept on going, Charlie Hill's charge was unable to hold Absolutely So (6-1), who got the verdict by half a length to give David Probert a double after his earlier success on Handsome Dude.

Jallota was second with So Beloved only a neck away in third.

Probert said: "He's such a tough character, he doesn't know how to run a bad race.

"The ground probably helped him and he knuckled down well.

"He's had his issues and it's a good training performance."

Balding has now missed his three biggest winners of the season having been absent at Chester when Montaly claimed the Chester Cup and Blond Me won the Middleton Stakes at York.

His wife, Anna Lisa, said: "David really did give him a lovely ride and I'm so pleased for the owners, the Smith family, they've been very patient as he's not been that straightforward with a few niggles.

"It's brilliant seeing him win a nice race, it's just reward for them.

"Even though he's now six he's shown he's as good as ever.

"We'll make a plan when we see how he comes out of this."

Cardsharp booked her place at Royal Ascot with a terrific performance in the Brian Yeardley Continental Two-Year-Old Trophy at Beverley.

Trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by Joe Fanning, the 6-4 favourite made most of the running to claim the £25,000 conditions stakes by two and a quarter lengths from stablemate Rufus King.

Prince Of Lir and The Last Lion, last year’s respective first two home in the Brian Yeardley, ended up finishing in that order in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Cardsharp, whose trainer was also responsible for subsequent Group One winner The Last Lion, could now attempt to follow in those esteemed hoofprints at the Berkshire track later this month.

Deirdre Johnston, assistant trainer and wife of the Middleham handler, said: “He’s a big, lovely horse and that was fantastic.

“He took a lot of pulling up and Joe said five (furlongs) or six would be fine.

“After that, he’ll probably be entered in the Norfolk, Windsor Castle and Coventry Stakes and we’ll see which race is the most suitable for him.

“The second horse probably wants another furlong and we’ll discuss it with the owner about Royal Ascot.”

Prince Of Lir was trained in Newmarket by Robert Cowell and owned by the Cool Silk Partnership, and the same combination struck again on the big stage with Hilary Needler Trophy heroine Chica La Habana.

Like last season’s Brian Yeardley winner, the daughter of Havana Gold (6-1) arrived at Beverley unraced yet belied her inexperience to take the five-furlong dash by three-quarters of a length from Maggies Angel.

The Cool Silk Partnership consists of Scunthorpe United chairman Peter Swann and his mother-in-law Barbara Wilkinson.

Chica La Habana could also be under consideration for the Royal fixture, with the Queen Mary Stakes a natural next port of call for any Hilary Needler winner.

Jockey Adam Beschizza said: "She'll come on a stone for that run as the penny kept dropping during the race.

"She's been working well at home but we hadn't really given her a racecourse gallop or anything like that.

"I wouldn't like to say if she was a Queen Mary horse – Royal Ascot would be a big step up – but she'll improve a lot for that."