A review of Saturday afternoon's meeting at Haydock as Klassique had too many guns for hot favourite True Self in the Betway Pinnacle Stakes.
Pinnacle win for Klassique
Klassique had too many guns for hot favourite True Self in the Betway Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock.
The decision to switch smart hurdler True Self to the Flat has proved a masterstroke by Ireland's perennial champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins, with the six-year-old following up a Cork maiden triumph with three successive Listed victories at Bath, Newmarket and Gowran Park respectively.
She was a warm order to notch a fifth win on the bounce and add a Group Three success to her CV on Merseyside, and the 8/11 market leader travelled powerfully for much of the mile-and-a-half journey in the hands of Colin Keane.
However, the William Haggas-trained 7/2 chance Klassique responded admirably to Danny Tudhope's urgings to charge to the lead in the testing conditions - and the further she went the better she looked, passing the post three lengths clear of the Irish raider.
Pilaster was just half a length further away in third.
Maureen Haggas, assistant to her husband, said: "She did great. She was lovely and settled - Danny gave her a lovely ride, and it couldn't have gone better really.
"They had the best of the ground because they are on a fresh track, and there was only a four-runner race before it, but she seemed to handle the ground. She is better with a bit of cut, but it's rather exceptional today and is getting worse. They've had three days of rain - it's bottomless.
"She's just improving. She was a tiny yearling, and they were brave to buy her. She had a year out at two (years of age), and when she came to us at three she was unrecognisable and has changed again this year - she's holding her condition better.
"There are a few races for her - there's the race at Doncaster (Park Hill Stakes), and you could go back up in trip with her, but she's won a Group race and will be a lovely mare."
The victory topped off an excellent week for Tudhope, who reached a career milestone of 1,000 domestic winners by steering Ingleby Hollow to victory at Thirsk on Monday.
He said: "It's a great achievement - I'll probably appreciate it more when I stop riding and I've time to look back.
"Hopefully there's a few more winners to come before then."
India Maid all for Alston
Maid In India led from pillar to post in the Betway Achilles Stakes at Haydock.
Eric Alston's mare won three times during a profitable campaign in 2018, but needed to produce a career-best performance on her seasonal reappearance in this five-furlong Listed contest.
With Tom Eaves in the saddle, 9-1 shot Maid In India flew out of the blocks and was soon dictating affairs against the rail closest to the grandstand.
Lady In France - a winner on her only previous start at Newcastle last month - did best of the chasing pack, but Maid In India was ultimately well on top as she passed the post with a length and three-quarters in hand.
Alston is best known for his handling of the top-class sprinter Reverence, who completed a Group One double in 2006 with victories in the the Nunthorpe at York and the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
The veteran trainer said: "She's a good filly, and the ground helped her today. We were a bit worried it would be too heavy actually, but they are getting through it.
"I don't know where she'll go. She's in the Wokingham (at Royal Ascot) and the weights are out - so you'll get a penalty for that - but there's a Listed race at Ayr the same day."
Alston added: "It's up to the owners if they want to go to Royal Ascot, I suppose. She has won over six furlongs, but her best form is over five."
"She should have run six weeks ago, but she had some implants in her eyes and they stopped working and her eyes blew up. She's been fit to run for a few weeks.
"She's won first time out every year now."
Crack makes all under Hart
Jason Hart kept things simple on Mind The Crack in the Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap at Haydock - and made sure every post was a winning one.
Having shaped well in three outings last year for Mark Johnston without winning, the gelding made no mistake on his seasonal return at Lingfield in May.
On his handicap debut off a mark of 83 here, Mind The Crack never looked in any danger, pulling further and further clear to win by three lengths in very testing ground.
Jason Maguire, racing manager for winning owners Paul and Clare Rooney, said: "He obviously loved the ground - he stays really well and he's not hard on himself, (and) you could see he was flicking his ears in front.
"I'd say he'd get further than this (mile and a half), and (assistant trainer) Charlie (Johnston) thought he might be well handicapped.
"I don't think he needs it, but he certainly handles it very well.
"He might be a horse for the Melrose (Stakes, at York) later in the year."