LIBERTY Beach confirmed her form – and fitness – ahead of Royal Ascot by making all to land the Temple Stakes at Haydock.
Third in the Grade One King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting last year to the all-conquering Battaash, trainer John Quinn and jockey Jason Hart both believe Liberty Beach, now four, has strengthened over the winter.
The Yorkshire sprinter had not raced since finishing third in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp last October and of her rivals – bar stable companion Keep Busy – had the advantage of a run on their side.
But Liberty Beach showed her usual early speed on leaving the stalls under Hart who is a master at obtaining flying starts.
She soon seized an advantage and was doing things easily on the front end while the rest of the field were struggling to keep tabs on her at halfway.
With a furlong to run, it looked as if the favourite, owned by Philip Wilkins, was going to register a ready win, but the lack of a recent outing allied to testing ground began to take its toll and her stride started to shorten.
Leyburn trainer Karl Burke’s Ainsdale, who had been one of the first off the bridle but is a soft-ground specialist, and his stable companion Lady In France began to close all the time, but the line came just too late for both.
“A very good day – she’s very quick,” said Malton-based Quinn whose stable was completing a high-profile double after the Hart-ridden Frankenstella took the two-mile handicap
“This filly has won three times first time out – the other filly (Keep Busy) has never won first time out.
“The two of them are in the King’s Stand, and they’ll go there.
“I’m delighted. She had to be tough – 50 yards from the line, I thought ‘Oh socks!’. But she dug deep – and as Jason (Hart) said, nothing passed her after the line.”
With the standout five-furlong performer Battaash having met with a minor setback which delayed his return to training this season, Quinn hopes race fitness could play a part at Ascot.
“As you know well, it’s nice to get them out and get a run into them. Anyone can only do so much at home, so to have a run into both of these is vital really,” he said.
“She has a lot of class, and a lot of speed. She could have been unbeaten as a two-year-old.
“She’s won on good to firm, good, soft, heavy – both these fillies are very versatile.
“The two of them are very good. One has sparked on the day, and the other things just didn’t go for her. That’s horseracing – there’ll be another day for her.”
In other news, Tribal Craft put down an Ebor market when winning Group Three William Hill Bronte Cup Fillies’ Stakes at York for David Probert and trainer Andrew Balding.
Last seen finishing second in the Listed Buckhounds Stakes at Ascot earlier in the month, the filly deftly handled a step up in grade to land the one-mile-six-furlong contest by two and three-quarter lengths.
Balding said he was “absolutely thrilled” with the run while Probert believed soft ground played to his mount’s strengths.
There were also Royal Ascot pointers at York – the Wokingham Stakes is the target for the Michael Dods-trained Pendleton while William Knight’s Spanish Kiss is bound for the Coventry Stakes after making a winning turf debut.
Meanwhile Richard Fahey’s Fev Rover was unplaced in the Irish 1000 Guineas in a race won by Aidan O’Brien’s Empress Josephine – she never appeared to travel with any fluency for Paul Hanagan.
And James Reveley had to settle for second aboard Carriacou as he sought a fourth Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris – France’s premier jumps race went to 2019 hero Docteur De Ballon.
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