Joe Rendall assesses the runners and riders for Saturday's Temple Stakes from Haydock...
"It was Hot Streak's performance in the Cornwallis Stakes at Ascot last October when he hinted he could be a potentially top-drawer sprinter..."
It seems likely that much of Saturday's coverage will be taken up with the potential for a £15 million Scoop 6. Whilst it was exciting to being with, am I alone in thinking that I just want someone to win the bloody thing? What began with palpable enthusiasm now has an overarching sense of exasperation to go with it; there are only so many ways you can say the prize fund is enormous and the smiles of the promoters are beginning to look slightly strained. Luckily in the Temple Stakes we have an excellent renewal of the Group 2 contest to distract us, and we shall turn to it without further ado.
It seems logical to start with the market leader Sole Power. It goes without saying that he's been plying his trade at the top of the sprinting ranks for a number of years now, and he looked as good as ever in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket last time, winning it for the second year in a row. The highlight of the 2013 season undoubtedly came when winning the King's Stand at Royal Ascot and even though he's seven now, his seasonal reappearance left no signs that he was planning on letting age get the better of him.
Sole Power finished very strongly having had the likes of Justineo and Stepper Point go a decent pace early on, and in truth he was probably value for more than the winning distance. He's likely to be a standing dish in the Group 1s at five furlongs this season and he looks a worthy favourite; the worry is whether there will be enough pace in Saturday's contest to see him at his best and coupled with the fact there looks to be significant amounts of rain forecast, he might not have his optimum conditions.
The horse that finished second to him at Newmarket and has twice been a winner of this contest is Kingsgate Native, another who shows no signs of letting up as he's getting older. Despite having the notorious Timeform 'squiggle' affixed to his rating he had more good days than bad in 2013, the highlight being winning this race, and he ran a creditable second on his reappearance last time.
Whilst Kingsgate Native makes each-way appeal going into that contest, the issue with his chances for Saturday is that there's little reason to suggest he can reverse the form with Sole Power given both are likely to be sharper for their last meeting. Given his record in the race he's likely to be popular with punters and at 8.415/2 he's not much of an each-way price either, so whilst he's respected it might be best to stick with a watching brief.
We only have to go one place lower down in the Palace House Stakes finishing order to find the most attractive bet for Saturday's contest, Hot Streak. It was his performance in the Cornwallis Stakes at Ascot last October that he hinted he could be a potentially top-drawer sprinter, and despite a comfortable win in a listed event at York's Ebor Festival in August nobody could have predicted the manner of performance he produced.
Both visually and on the stopwatch it was as impressive a juvenile performance as there was all season, hammering a useful field by five lengths in a quicker time than a listed event for older horses on the same card. He immediately went into the notebook for the King's Stand and Diamond Jubilee at the Royal meeting in June, and he followed-up that effort when second to stablemate Astaire in what was a competitive renewal of the Middle Park Stakes.
His reappearance at Newmarket this season was a pleasing one; there is a school of thought to suggest that three-year-old sprinters struggle against their elders at the beginning of the season, but in truth the theory bears more fruit in handicap contests and Hot Streak shaped extremely well.
He tracked the pace travelling strongly and just got tired in the last 50 yards, but with the proviso that he'll be a lot sharper for his reappearance and he gets another 2 lb from the likes of Sole Power and his elders, he looks to have an excellent chance.
The forecast rain should be a problem as the ground at Ascot in October looked a good deal more testing than the advertised going of good-to-soft, and it could arguably see him to better effect than many of his rivals. Three-year-olds actually have a fair record in the race with Fleeting Spirit winning in 2008 and Airwave in 2003, and if he can comes on for his last run this looks an ideal chance for Hot Streak to rack up his first victory in what could be a momentous 2014 campaign.
There are others who merit consideration, most notably Qatar Racing second string Pearl Secret who had something of an interrupted 2013 campaign due to injury. Taken on his third in the King's Stand he can quite clearly be competitive, the worry is how freely he sweated and how poorly he ran at Newmarket last time and even if he's able to put that behind him, he's a horse who needs to start to deliver on the considerable promise he's hinted at before he enters calculations for a sprint of this calibre.
You feel that given the strength of market support behind him at York last week that Jack Dexter ran significantly below form; if he's capable of bouncing back, his versatility in terms of ground will stand him in good stead and he looks one of the few who might be capable of outrunning his price. However in the cold light of day this looks a race which will be fought out by the market principals, and you feel siding with the young improver in Hot Streak is a strategy that will pay dividends both on Saturday and beyond.
Back Hot Streak in the Temple Stakes