Trainer Karl Burke feels that we are yet to see the best of the exciting El Caballo, who heads a field of 11 runners in the Group Two Cazoo Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock Park on Saturday.
The three year old son of Havana Gold has done nothing but improve since winning a novice contest at Carlisle last May, winning four times on the All-Weather over the winter after suffering a small setback which ruled him out of a summer campaign.
The latest of those victories was a game success on All-Weather Finals Day at Newcastle on Good Friday and he now heads to Saturday’s six-furlong contest, which is seen as one of the key trials for next month’s Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
It is a path that Burke knows well having previously completed the double with Quiet Reflection in 2016 and the Middleham-based handler feels that his charge could be right up there with that filly, who won twice at the top level having also collected the Group One Sprint Cup at Haydock Park in 2016.
Burke said: “El Caballo is in great form and he worked very nicely on Tuesday, so I’m very happy with him and I’m looking forward to seeing him run.
“I don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of him yet. It’s a very strong race and it will be a very truly run race as well, so we’ll know how good he is after Saturday.
“He has a different action to Quiet Reflection and I’d say he probably has more scope than her too. She loved heavy ground whereas I’m not so sure this fella would want it to be extremely slow – Good, Good To Soft should be perfect for him.”
The other Group Two contest at Haydock Park on Saturday is the Cazoo Temple Stakes over five furlongs, which like the Sandy Lane acts as a key pointer for next month’s Royal meeting.
Previous winners of the race have gone on to contest both the King’s Stand Stakes and the Platinum Jubilee Stakes in the past and this year’s field of 12 runners includes last year’s Group One Nunthorpe Stakes winner Winter Power.
Burke has made three declarations for this contest, including the three year old Oasis Dream colt Last Crusader, who impressed when striking in the Listed Westow Stakes at York last week.
Burke commented: “Last Crusader will run as long as the ground isn’t too soft and if he doesn’t run Attagirl for the same owners (Clipper Logistics) will take her chance.
“He performed brilliantly last week at York so I’m very happy with him and he’s come out of the race well, but he wouldn’t want it too soft.
“White Lavender was very impressive at Bath (when winning the Listed Lansdown Stakes in April) and I’m very happy with her.
“She’s got a lot of speed and a good turn of foot - she comes from a very speedy family in Dark Angel etc. – but she is ground dependant and would probably need some cut to be at her best.”
3:10pm Cazoo Sandy Lane Stakes (Group 2) 6f
1 (4) Beauty Inspire (IRE) 3 9 2 Beauty Stable Ger Lyons Ireland Mark Enright
2 (7) Caturra (IRE) 3 9 2 Saeed Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi Clive Cox Adam Kirby
3 (6) Edward Cornelius (IRE) h 3 9 2 John Kelly & John McNeill Keith Dalgleish Sam James
4 (11) El Caballo 3 9 2 Grange Park Racing XVIII & OfO Partners Karl Burke Clifford Lee
5 (5) Ever Given (IRE) 3 9 2 Dandy Boys Hugo Palmer Daniel Tudhope
6 (1) Flaming Rib (IRE) 3 9 2 Dolan Dooley Owen Hugo Palmer James Doyle
7 (3) Gis A Sub (IRE) 3 9 2 Mr Steve Ryan Kevin Ryan Kevin Stott
8 (10) Go Bears Go (IRE) 3 9 2 Amo Racing Limited & P Waney David Loughnane Rossa Ryan
9 (8) Wings of War (IRE) p 3 9 2 Isa Salman Al Khalifa Clive Cox David Probert
10 (2) Tippy Toes 3 8 13 Colin Bryce Charlie & Mark Johnston Joe Fanning
11 (9) Vertiginous (IRE) 3 8 13 G P M Morland & Partners Brian Meehan Tom Marquand
3:45pm Cazoo Temple Stakes (Group 2) 5f
1 (3) Ainsdale p 5 9 6 David Armstrong Julie Camacho Graham Lee
2 (12) Arecibo (FR) p 7 9 6 Tom Morley Robert Cowell Rossa Ryan
3 (9) Came From The Dark (IRE) 6 9 6 P. K. Siu Ed Walker Tom Marquand
4 (10) Existent ts 4 9 6 Mrs J Morley Stuart Williams Marco Ghiani
5 (2) King's Lynn 5 9 6 The Queen Andrew Balding David Probert
6 (6) Mondammej h 5 9 6 Mrs C Brittain Antony Brittain Cam Hardie
7 (11) Moss Gill (IRE) bl 6 9 6 G Van Cutsem, J & S Bethell Edward Bethell Kevin Stott
8 (8) Twilight Calls 4 9 6 Cheveley Park Stud Henry Candy Adam Kirby
9 (5) White Lavender (IRE) 4 9 3 Barbara Keller Karl Burke Clifford Lee
10 (4) Winter Power (IRE) ts 4 9 3 King Power Racing Co Ltd Tim Easterby David Allan
11 (1) Last Crusader (IRE) p 3 8 12 Clipper Logistics Karl Burke Daniel Tudhope
12 (7) Attagirl 3 8 9 Clipper Logistics Karl Burke Sam James