The Pinnacle Stakes was established in 2003 and was initially given listed class status, but was promoted to Group 3 level in 2012. Open to fillies' and mares aged four years or older, it has been won by some unexposed, late-maturing types in recent years, with two of the last three renewals producing subsequent Group 1 winners.
Accordingly, the late-blooming Amjan Princess is favourite for this year's race in the ante-post market at present having looked a much improved performer when winning a listed race at Goodwood by five lengths last time. She confirmed that her runner-up effort in the Ribblesdale last year wasn't a fluke by running to a similar level and she deserves to be contesting pattern races again. However, that was a fairly weak fillies' listed contest, and she did show mild signs of temperament by flashing her tail once in command, so at the prices, she looks worth taking on.
Dubka was sent off a well-backed favourite for the same race but ultimately disappointed, perhaps in need of the run more than connections expected, already weakening when short of room over a furlong out. She was a filly on the up last year, winning four of her six races, and given her strength in the market, obviously better was expected on the day, so it's feasible to think that she may well resume her progress. Sir Michael Stoute also has Abingdon entered at this stage, a filly who went a long way in a short space of time last season. She was sent off favourite for the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster on her final start, but she shaped as though a few hard races previously had perhaps taken the edge off of her. It's hard to believe she lacked for stamina given everything she'd done beforehand and this rangy filly, who is in excellent hands, looks all over the type to progress again at four. She will command respect if taking her chance.
Ireland are yet to taste success in this race, but they will surely have a live chance if Tony Martin's Laganore makes the trip. She showed smart form when winning a listed race at Newmarket in October and ran to a similar level when second in the Blue Wind Stakes at the Curragh last time. A slight worry would be the fact that she is yet to wim beyond 1¼m, and she had every chance until fading late on over that distance last time. On form at least, though, she is very much one to consider.
Signe cost €1,100,000 as a yearling, but she didn't make it to the track until February, so she has clearly had her problems. Connections are proving right to have persevered with her though, as she has won all three of her starts to date, landing a useful Newbury handicap in April on her latest start. That was her toughest task yet, up against more experienced rivals, and she showed a good attitude to prevail, finding plenty in the closing stages, and this longer trip could see her progress again. However, she is officially rated 85, which leaves her with a bit to find at this level, though there's no doubting she remains open to plenty of improvement.
The now French-trained Bateel - who was progressive for David Simcock in 2015/early-2016 - made an encouraging debut for Francis-Henri Graffard in the Prix de Barbeville at Chantilly on her reappearance in April. She is another who has some strong form to her name and, still relatively lightly raced for a five-year-old, she could yet have more to offer for this yard.
Of the others, Maleficent Queen landed a five-timer earlier in her career when winning a listed race at Ayr in May 2016. She hasn't won in eight starts since and, as she showed in the latest renewal of that race last month, she is proving vulnerable at this level. Return Ace has some useful form and goes well fresh, but she could only finish fifth in a listed event at Saint-Cloud last time.
The current going at Haydock at the time of writing is currently soft, good to soft in places. There has been plenty of rain around the area already, but with more forecast throughout the week, conditions could be very testing come Saturday afternoon. That could potentially harm the chances of a few of these towards the head of the betting, particularly Abingdon, whose best form has come on a fast surface and, being by Street Cry (10% strike rate on soft/heavy, compared to 22% on good to firm), she's not entirely sure to handle it. Stoute's other runner Dubka, on the other hand, is proven in soft ground and looks the value play.
Win back Dubka in the Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock