William Haggas heaped praise on stable jockey Tom Marquand after the pair combined to win both of the major handicaps on Betfair Sprint Cup day at Haydock.
The Newmarket handler is a rare visitor to the Merseyside venue, so the fact he decided to make the journey north for the biggest day of the track’s Flat season was noteworthy.
His representative in the first of two £100,000 contests on the card was the impeccably-bred Naqeeb (5-2), who produced a battling display in the Get Daily Rewards With Betfair Handicap.
The son of Nathaniel is a half-brother to the trainer’s former stable star Baaeed and the top-class middle-distance performer Hukum, last seen winning the King George at Ascot in July.
Naqeeb will have to go some to scale those heights, but having opened his account with a wide-margin novice win at Kempton last month, he dug deep on his first start over a mile and three-quarters to score by a length and a quarter from Blindedbythelights.
“I thought a mark of 100 was steep for him, but I think he’s improved a bit for going up in trip and I think he’ll be a good stayer next year,” said Haggas.
“He took a while to win. He got mugged by Middle Earth I thought at Newmarket and now look at Middle Earth, who looks to have a likely chance in the St Leger.
“He’s not as quick as Baaeed – I think he wants another mile! How far he’ll go I don’t know, but he’s a big, raw horse whose still got lots to learn and if he can can end up half as good as those two (Baaeed and Hukum) that’ll do me.”
Haggas and Marquand were soon on the mark again, with Post Impressionist (10-1) coming from the clouds to lift the Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup.
Caius Chorister looked home for all money after moving smoothly to the lead, but Post Impressionist – who had hinted at a return to form when not beaten far in the Ebor at York last month – flew home from the rear to land the spoils.
Haggas added: “Tom said he didn’t want to go early and I was hoping if that was the case they’d go fast and they seemed to do just that. It’s a long way up the straight when they go hard and thankfully he managed to pick them off.
“The first race of any description he’s run properly this year was in the Ebor last time. There was just a glimpse there and we’re delighted he’s come good today.”
Of Marquand, he said: “I’m really sick of saying it, but he’s a top-class rider and a great fellow. He is really hungry, really keen and really strong.
“I don’t know why he doesn’t have six favourites a day like (William) Buick and (Oisin) Murphy have, but Tom will get there eventually – he’s a young guy.
“He rode his 1,000th winner (in Britain) the other day and all I can guarantee you is it won’t take him that long to ride another 1,000.”
The high-class Chindit (5-2) dominated his rivals in the Group Three Best Odds On The Betfair Exchange Superior Mile.
Runner-up to Modern Games in the Lockinge at Newbury, Richard Hannon’s charge was upstaged by stablemate The Witch Hunter when favourite for last month’s Hungerford Stakes but showed his true colours this time, passing the post just over two lengths ahead of Light Infantry.
“He didn’t run his race last time at Newbury and he was a bit disappointing, but he was right back to his best and he looked like the Group One horse that I think he is,” said Hannon.
“Mr Poonawalla purchased him to see his mares once he retires from racing and he has now won a Group race at two, three, four and five. He looks right back to his very best form.
“We will certainly look at some nice pots abroad now where there is fast ground. There are a couple of races in Australia and races around two bends over a mile in America and he might even be the sort of horse that gets an invite to Hong Kong.”
Chindit’s rider James Doyle doubled up aboard Mick Appleby’s 4-1 shot Raasel in the Betfair Be Friendly Handicap, while the Listed Betfair Daily Tips On Betting.Betfair Ascendant Stakes went to the Roger Varian-trained Al Musmak.
Successful on his Ascot debut before finding only the exciting Rosallion too strong in a Listed contest on King George day, the 11-4 chance got back on the winning trail with a clear-cut victory over 6-4 favourite Macduff.
Winning jockey Ben Curtis said: “He relaxed lovely down the back and I was just keen not to give them too much rope as they can get away from you here.
“He travelled into it nice and when I gave him one flick he responded and went to the front and saw out the mile well, so I’m very pleased with him.
“He floated across the ground and hopefully he’ll take another step forward after that.”