Hannon wins the War at Haydock
War Spirit got favourite-backers off to the perfect start in the Haydock sunshine by completing a hat-trick in the Casino At bet365.com Handicap.
The Richard Hannon-trained three-year-old looked fairly ordinary after being beaten on his first four competitive starts, but the decision to drop back to five furlongs at Doncaster early last month proved a masterstroke.
Following a decisive victory on Town Moor, the roan gelding had little trouble following up at Newmarket a couple of weeks later and he was a 5-2 market leader for his latest assignment.
Given plenty of time to find his stride on the far side of the track by Sean Levey, War Spirit closed in on the leaders entering the final furlong and skipped clear late on to land the spoils by a length and a quarter.
Distant Past filled the runner-up spot, with Captain Myles third.
"We ran him over seven furlongs to start with and I rode him over seven at Kempton. I came back saying he has loads of speed and a straight five furlongs would suit," said Levey.
"Hopefully he can go on now and win a few more. We're racing on fresh ground today and it's good to soft at worst."
The official going was changed from soft to good to soft immediately after the race.
David Elsworth is considering a tilt at next week's July Cup with Justice Day following an authoritative performance in the bet365.com Conditions Stakes.
Down the field in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot last month, the three-year-old was a 5-1 shot for this far less taxing assignment.
Justice Day moved through the six-furlong contest with panache and picked up well for Graham Lee to seal the deal by a length and three-quarters from Morache Music.
Barkston Ash ran with credit in third, but Hannon's 4-1 favourite Annunciation was disappointing in eighth.
Elsworth said: "He's an all right horse and ran to a pretty good level at Ascot when the ground was plenty fast enough for him, and it was a Group One, of course.
"I think we can aspire to those levels. He was third in the Middle Park last year and I think the three-year-olds catch up with the older horses in the second half of the season.
"He's in everything, including the July Cup next week, and if it poured down all week I might just run him. He's obviously in great form at the moment and when the ball's at your feet, kick it."
Levey struck again for the same yard as 7/2 shot Divine Law edged the bet365.com Nursery.
Heavy Metal (7/1) finished with a rattle to take the bet365 Handicap for Mark Johnston and Joe Fanning.
Fanning said: "He was a Group Two winners as a two-year-old and is a fair horse on his day.
"You just have to leave him alone and let him find his feet, but he came home well."