Haydock John Of Gaunt Stakes Day | Back-to-back

Royal Ascot Day 5, July Festival

After the heights of last week’s two days on the Epsom Downs, we have a quieter weekend of action to look forward to as attentions turn to Haydock John Of Gaunt Stakes Day.

This column is set to have fewer fancies than last week’s pieces, so it feels like a good time to review the profit and loss.

Despite a late surge in March, we finished that month down by 2.6 points and April didn’t help with a loss of 10.55 points.

So, as you can see, the column was not in a good place a few months ago, but we finished May in profit by 5.75 points (which could have been 14.75 points if not for a nine-point blowout on Epsom Oaks Day).

As for June, Epsom Derby Day is the only column of the month so far, but we walked away from Saturday in profit by 21.2 points from 13 points stakes (ROI of 163%), so the overall P&L sits at +13.8 from 214 points stakes at an ROI of +6.43%.

So, we’re in profit, and let’s hope we can continue to stride on.


3:00 Haydock – Caernarfon @ 22/1 with BoyleSports (4 places) – 1pt EW

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The Group 3 Lester Piggott Fillies’ Stakes is interesting as fillies with solid Group-level form are battling against up-and-coming opponents.

Previous renewals suggest that an RPR of 109-110 is good enough to win this race, so this should give Caernarfon a good chance to bounce back to form.

On all known form, she is the classiest filly in this race as she kicked off last year with a fourth in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas before stepping up in trip for the Epsom Oaks.

That was her best performance of last year as she finished a good third behind Soul Sister (Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris third subsequently) and Savethelastdance (Group 1 Irish Oaks winner subsequently).

She then went to Royal Ascot and finished fifth in a solid rendition of the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes before her fifth-place effort in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

Since then, she has underperformed three times, though there are potential excuses for two of them.

One could argue that her effort in the Listed Upavon Fillies’ Stakes came after a few hard runs and her third in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes this year was her first start of the season.

I think only Caernarfon herself could explain her last run in the Group 2 Middleton Fillies’ Stakes at York (where she finished last of five, beaten 57 lengths), but I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Today is her first start at 12 furlongs since the Oaks, and the way she raced over 10 furlongs after the Oaks last year suggests to me that her stamina is no issue.

I don’t believe that this once-Oaks-placed filly is suddenly gone at the game, so I’m happy to chance her at 18/1.


3:35 Haydock – Jumby @ 10/1 with William Hill (4 places) – 1pt EW

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After much deliberation in what is a wide-open John Of Gaunt Stakes, last year’s winner Jumby is my finalised pick.

Having looked at Pogo and Flight Plan, I went away from them as they are both forward-goers which could set this up for a late-closer.

Eve Johnson Houghton’s six-year-old by New Bay won this race last year by closing late, though the early pace from the 2023 renewal wasn’t even that quick. Therefore, a stronger pace this year is likely to suit more.

Admittedly, his draw in stall 11 isn’t ideal, but jockey Charlie Bishop will drop him in behind runners anyway so that slightly negates the effect stall 11 will have on his chances.

As for his form in the book, he finished second to Audience in the Group 2 Criterion Stakes after last year’s win.

He tried to give three pounds away to the subsequent Lockinge Stakes winner that day, though he was closing all the way to the line and the fourth (Aldaary) finished fourth to Paddington in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes subsequently to frank the form.

One can imagine that connections have targeted this race and the stable are in fair form (5/27), so he’s my pick in an open-looking contest.

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