Can Nunthorpe winner Winter Power produce her best away from York?

Saturday: 3.45 Haydock
Cazoo Temple Stakes (Group 2) | 5f | 3yo+ | ITV4/RTV

Even though there are only four open-age 5f races in Britain at Group 2 level or above, the diet still contains notable variety. The Temple Stakes is the first and, despite a roll of honour that befits its standing, it does not often map directly to the races that follow.

Since it moved to Haydock in 2008, only Profitable has won and followed up in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot. The only horse to link this race with the King George at Goodwood and Nunthorpe at York in the same year is Battaash. He won at Goodwood in 2018 and got the treble up in 2019.

Small things often become crucial in sprints and those trends are another indicator of that. Haydock is not Ascot, where blasting off is not an option given its burning finish. But nor is this a speed track to the same extent as York or Goodwood. The slowest time in the Nunthorpe since 2008 was faster than the median for the Temple Stakes. The slowest King George would have been the fourth-fastest Temple.

These differences, with particular reference to York, must be of some concern to those looking to back Nunthorpe winner Winter Power. Not only has her biggest win come on the Knavesmire – a specialist track at the best of times and all the more so over 5f – but her three runs there have yielded Racing Post Ratings of 119, 114 and 119. Her three best RPRs elsewhere have been 109, 97 and 95.

The key formline this spring is the Palace House Stakes on Guineas weekend. Five of the 12 runners here went in that race, the best of them being recent handicap graduate Existent who was a fast-finishing second. He was race-fit, as was Twilight Calls who shaped pretty well considering he was caught out on the wing. He is an improving Henry Candy sprinter and has again been well found in the market relative to what he has actually shown.

It is worth putting in a word for the three-year-old Last Crusader. He won a Listed race at the Dante meeting nine days ago, showing that 5f has probably been his optimum distance all along. If able to make use of his pace again, and assuming he is not another York specialist, he may well outrun double-figure odds. No three-year-old has won the Temple Stakes since Hot Streak in 2014, but only four have tried and their SPs were 33-1, 16-1, 20-1 and 10-1, so it is not the cause for worry that the headline stats would imply.
Race analysis by Keith Melrose

Winter primed for spring

Winter Power is out to join a tiny club when she launches her 2022 season.

She staked her claim to being Britain's best five-furlong sprinter when showing tremendous speed to blitz the opposition in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last August.

But only Sole Power has gone on from success there to land the Temple since it was moved to this course in 2008. Five others have tried and failed to complete the double.

Winter Power had won two Listed races at York in fine style before her Nunthorpe triumph and is expected to improve again this season.

Trainer Tim Easterby said: "I'm looking forward to her, she's done well, filled out and looks a big, strong filly now.

"I couldn't give you a percentage of how straight she is first time out, but she's like she usually is. You never know how they'll go at Haydock until they run there, but she's in great form."

Calls back to earlier years

Progressive handicapper Twilight Calls may be the nostalgia buffs' choice on his second crack at Group company.

He is a son of Twilight Son, who landed the Betfred Sprint Cup here in 2015, and carries the colours of Cheveley Park Stud, whose Kingsgate Native was a Temple Stakes regular, winning in 2010 and 2013 and being placed twice.

Twilight Calls started favourite for the Palace House at Newmarket, but had an unfavoured draw and was carried left by a rival.

Trainer Henry Candy believes he is capable of better and said: "Over the three days nothing drawn on that side got involved at all and just as he was trying to edge right, he got carried left on to even worse ground, so it was a complete waste of time.

"He seems in good form and I hope he'll run well. He's gradually climbing the ladder, but he's got a long way to go to catch Tim's filly."

What they say

Robert Cowell, trainer of Arecibo
It's another stepping stone towards the King's Stand. He needed his run at Newmarket and came there with a wet sail then blew up.

Ed Walker, trainer of Came From The Dark
He's been training well and we're looking for a lot better this time. The way he ran in the Palace House and won the Charge last year showed he could be competitive in top sprints this season.

Stuart Williams, trainer of Existent
He's in good form but I'd have preferred to be drawn closer to the favourite and the track may be a little sharp.

Ed Bethell, trainer of Moss Gill
He's in good form after a big break and likes Haydock, though, he's drawn on the wrong side. He's been training well.

Karl Burke, trainer of White Lavender, Last Crusader and Attagirl
It was a good performance by Last Crusader at York and if he reproduces that he's got an excellent chance. White Lavender looks in great shape and has come on again from her win at Bath. Attagirl may not run due to the ground, but has a chance of a place.