Haydock Park Racecourse
Haydock Park is a popular northern track situated between Liverpool and Manchester at Newton-le-Willows. The racecourse is just one mile from junction 23 of the M6 and is clearly sign-posted on race days. There are frequent trains from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly to Newton-le-Willows railway station.
Haydock stages top quality Flat and National Hunt racing throughout the year. The left handed flat track is an oval-shaped circuit of around a mile and a half. There is a long uphill straight of over half a mile so there are few excuses for beaten horses. There is also a straight six furlongs where those drawn high on the stands side are favoured, particularly in big fields. Haydock is generally regarded as a fair galloping track but it can be gruelling for chasers when the going is heavy.
Haydock Horse Racing History
Haydock Park racecourse was officially opened in 1899, although records show that racing took place at Newton-le-Willows as early as 1752. The Old Newton Cup first appears in the record books as early as 1807 and remains the last surviving link between Haydock Park and the original course. Sydney Sandon served as Course Secretary, Chairman and Managing Director and is credited for much of the original development of Haydock in the early twentieth century.
An ambitious redevelopment took place between 2007 and 2011. The whole of the course was redrained and the east bend was recambered and realigned. The course also uses portable fences and has been a big supporter of fixed brush hurdles.
Haydock Sprint Cup, Temple Stakes & Betfair Chase
The racecourse currently stages 32 meetings per year with a combination of Flat and National Hunt racing. The Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup is held in September and is the climax of a three-day meeting.
The Temple Stakes is the highlight of a high quality card towards the end of May. It is preceded by the Sandy Lane Stakes on a card that also features the Silver Bowl Handicap. The Grade 1 Betfair Chase takes place in November is the only Grade 1 National Hunt race at the course. There are six Grade 2 Chases at Haydock in January and February.
The Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup is the signature race on the flat, a six-furlong race formerly known as the Vernons Sprint Cup. The race was devised by Vernons Pools Millionaire Robert Sangster and was given Group 1 status in 1988, two years after the installation of the straight six furlong track.
The five-furlong Temple Stakes was transferred from Sandown Park in 2008 and regularly attracts top class sprinters. It is one of two Group 2 races at the May meeting along with the Sandy Lane Stakes, a six-furlong race restricted to three-year-olds. The Group 3 John of Gaunt Stakes is over seven furlongs while the £100,000 Old Newton Cup is one of the most competitive mile and a half handicaps of the summer. Haydock also stages the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks for fillies and mares.
The Betfair Chase is the first leg of the Betfair Million. Any horse winning this race and going on to win the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup will earn £1 million for their owners. Kauto Star (2006-07) successfully completed the treble while Cue Card came agonisingly close in 2015-16, falling at the third last in the Gold Cup.
Grade 2 jump races at Haydock include the Peter Marsh Chase and the Tommy Whittle Chase. The track also stages significant Cheltenham Festival trials with the Champion Hurdle Trial and the Rendlesham Hurdle. The latter was formerly held at Kempton Park and is a trial for the Stayers Hurdle. The Grand National Trial dates back to 1947, although it has a checkered history. It was lost in 1985 but the Greenall Whitley Gold Cup effectively restored the Trial when the distance of the race was increased to three and a half miles in 1991.
Famous Races and Racehorses at Haydock
Be Friendly (1966 and 1967) remains the only horse to win the Haydock Sprint Cup twice. He raced in the colours of the late BBC commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan. Many leading sprinters have won the race including Moorestyle (1980), Habibti (1983), Dayjur (1990) and Sheikh Albadou (1992).
Kingsgate Native won the Temple Stakes here in 2010 and 2013. He had been retired to stud in 2009 but fertility problems led to a return to the racetrack. He was eventually retired to the British Racing School in 2016 after earning over £850,000 in prize money.
Notable winners of the Lancashire Oaks include Irish Oaks winners Give Thanks (1983) and Great Heavens (2012). Recent Sandy Lane Stakes winners include Quiet Reflection (2016) and Harry Angel (2017), both of which returned to win the Haydock Sprint Cup in the same season.
The Grade 1 Betfair Chase will forever be associated with Kauto Star, successful four times between 2006 and 2011). Paul Nicholls also won the race twice with Silviniaco Conti (2012 and 2014). Cue Card won the race three times for Colin Tizzard between 2013 and 2016 but was beaten by Bristol de Mai in 2018 when attempting to equal Kauto Star’s record. He was retired at the end of the 2017-18 season.
There have been few more popular national hunt horses at Haydock in recent years than The New One. Nigel Twiston-Davies trained the gelding to win The Champion Hurdle Trial for four successive seasons between 2014 and 2018. Ekbalco (1983), Granville Again (1992), Flakey Dove (1994) and Rooster Booster (2004) are other notable winners.
The £100,000 Swinton Handicap Hurdle was one of the most valuable races of the National Hunt season when it was added to the calendar in 1978. It does not have quite the same status these days but has an impressive roll of honour including two-time winners Dreams End (1994 and 1997) and Eradicate (2010 and 2011).
The Grand National Trial was won by some high class horses in its previous guise as the Greenall Whitley Chase. Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Cool Ground (1992) and Master Oats (1994) won either side of Aintree Grand National winner Party Politics (1993). The race was also won by the great Red Rum back in 1975 when defying a record weight of 12 stone. Silver By Nature carried only 2lbs less when winning the race for a second successive season for Lucinda Russell in 2011.
Earth Summit won the Peter Marsh Chase in 1995. He would go on to win the Welsh Grand National in 1997 and Aintree Grand National in 1998. That followed success in the Scottish National in 1994 and he remains the only horse to have won all three events.
Top Jockeys and Trainers at Haydock
Trainer Tom Dascombe and jockey Richard Kingscote are the leading lights at Haydock, both numerically and in terms of level stakes profit. William Haggas has an impressive strike-rate with his runners while Hugo Palmer’s entries are always worthy of close inspection. Frankie Dettori is not a frequent visitor but his rides are certainly worth noting when he does make the trip to the north west.
Despite the loss of key owners in recent years, Donald McCain is still a force to be reckoned with at Haydock, particularly over fences. Nigel Twiston-Davies has also enjoyed plenty of success here and both he and Venetia Williams regularly feature in staying chases.