sport

Penitent rolls back the years

David O'Meara's stable stalwart Penitent played a starring role in an across-the-card four-timer by downing the young guns at Haydock..

The eight-year-old has been a magnificent servant for the Nawton handler and owners Middleham Park Racing since being snapped up from Cheveley Park a couple of years ago, taking his connections to Paris, Dubai and Hong Kong along the way.

An old stager that can be relied on to flourish when the mud is flying, the drying conditions on Merseyside tempered his team's confidence, but he rolled back the years to strike Group Three gold in a thrilling renewal of the Timeform Jury Stakes .

Handy from the outset in the hands of Daniel Tudhope, the 33-1 shot was sent on two furlongs from home, but the challengers were queuing up in behind.

Tawhid and Eton Forever both loomed up ominously before being brushed aside and in the end it was Breton Rock who gave the veteran most to think about after being produced on the far rail, but Penitent clung on by a short head.

Tudhope said: "He's the stable star this horse, he's just an absolute legend."

Middleham Park racing manager Tim Palin said: "There's life in the old dog yet.

"At declaration time we thought he had a chance - seven furlongs on soft ground - but then it started drying out and we weren't as confident.

"I have to say I was surprised when they called him the winner. I thought we'd lost it in the photo and we were all commiserating each other.

"On his day he can still run to a mark of around 115. He was tough and fought them all off, so we're delighted.

"Where we go from here, heaven only knows."

O'Meara, also among the winners at York and Chester, had earlier seen another eight-year-old Dubai Hills (4-1) register his first turf triumph in the best part of two years with a runaway victory in the haydock-park.co.uk Handicap under Tudhope.

"The horse was tanking with me the whole way and I probably got to the front too soon, but he did it well," said the jockey.

Aeolus may have earned himself a trip to Royal Ascot after slamming his rivals in the New Timeform Flags Sandy Lane Stakes.

Ed McMahon's 3-1 shot was given a patient ride by Richard Hughes, but once unleashed he quickly settled matters and passed the post two and three-quarter lengths clear of Betimes.

McMahon said: "Richard rode him full of confidence today and he did it really well, so we're delighted.

"Where he goes now will all depend on the weather. It would be nice to go for the Jersey (at Royal Ascot), but we'd only do that if the ground was good. I wouldn't want to run him on any faster than that.

"He's a very genuine horse and he'd have to be one of the best I've had as he's so easy to train."

Normandie Stud owner Philippa Cooper could not contain her delight after Sultanina claimed Group Three honours in the Pinnacle Stakes.

Taking a significant step up in class after making a winning debut at Salisbury little over a fortnight ago, the 10-1 shot collared Frankie Dettori-ridden stablemate Freedom's Light by a short head to lead home a one-two for trainer John Gosden.

Cooper said: "I can't believe it. I didn't think she'd won. When they called number 11 I nearly threw up!

"We waited a long time for her to run as she had trouble with sore shins, but my trainer (Gosden) obviously had a lot of faith in her as he wouldn't normally keep a horse in training as a four-year-old if they had never run before.

"This means so much, I haven't even thought about where she'll go next."

Kieren Fallon pounced late aboard the Roger Varian-trained Steps (6-1) to claim Listed honours in the Winning Express Achilles Stakes, getting up to beat Stuart Williams' stable stalwart Eton Rifles by a neck.

Varian's assistant, David Eustace, said: "That was great. He's a star.

"That's his level - Listed races or big handicaps - although we could even have a go at a Group Three at some stage."

Ed Walker's Lightning Moon (11-10 favourite) looks destined for bigger and better things after securing his second win from as many starts with a six-length romp in the Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Handicap.

Winning jockey William Buick said: "Ed has a lot of belief in this horse and he did it really well.

"He's got a lot of talent. I don't know how far he'll go, but he dealt with them pretty easily."

The concluding Download New RacingUK iPad App Handicap went to Dettori on Peter Chapple-Hyam's Farquhar (2-1 favourite).