Contact makes an impression at Haydock

Horse Racing

Options include Haydock return or trip to Royal Ascot.

An appearance at Royal Ascot could be on the cards for Contact after doubling his tally for the season in the Betfred Double Delight Handicap at Haydock.

Trained by David Barron and his daughter Nicola, the grey son of Gutaifan won at Newmarket four weeks ago and was a 100-30 chance to follow up on Merseyside.

He looked like he could have a real fight on his hands when 2-1 favourite Mahrajaan loomed up ominously, but Contact found more for pressure to score a shade cosily by a length and a quarter in the hands of Ben Curtis.

Universal Order finished with a flourish to beat Mahrajaan to the runner-up spot.

“He’s a really nice horse and is getting better with age,” said David Barron.

“It’s a month since he ran at Newmarket and he is a bit of a lively lad. You wouldn’t think it walking round here, but at home he squeals at everything, and when you leave him at home that long you’ve got to be so hard on him just to keep a lid on him.

“We came here to find out whether we should come back here for the Old Newton Cup or there’s the mile and six (furlong) race at Ascot (Copper Horse Stakes). I haven’t a clue which way we’ll go now.”

Curtis went on to complete a double in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap aboard the Marco Botti-trained Silver Samurai, who may also be Royal Ascot-bound.

Turning out a fortnight after striking gold at Newbury, the 7-1 shot engaged overdrive late on to deny Music Society by a length.

Botti said: “I thought he was impressive today and I think we have found the key to him now – he has to be ridden cold.

“The Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot is what we were looking at, but before today he was only rated 92 and needed a lot of horses to come out to get a run.

“Hopefully now he has won again, he might go up a few pounds. If he gets in the Wokingham that is the race we will go for, definitely.”

Jimi Hendrix (left) won the opening race at Haydock
Jimi Hendrix (left) won the opening race at Haydock (Tim Goode/PA)

Ralph Beckett and Jim Crowley teamed up to win the opening betfred.com Sankey Handicap, with 6-1 shot Jimi Hendrix coming home best to beat He’s a Gentleman by a length.

Crowley said: “He stuck on well and his last furlong was his best furlong – he hit the line well.

“He’ll probably get a bit further. He didn’t make life easy for me, but we got there in the end.”

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