Temple Stakes Day, billed in 2018 as “Family Day with the Forces”, is a military themed, but family oriented, single-day fixture staged annually on Spring Bank Holiday Saturday, in late May, at Haydock Park Racecourse, on Merseyside in North West England.
The feature race, the Temple Stakes, run over 5 furlongs and open to horses aged three years and upwards, is one major early season sprint contests. Although officially a Group 2 race, the Temple Stakes is often contested by bona fide Group 1 performers, running in preparation for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot the following month. The Temple Stakes was inaugurated, at Sandown Park, in 1965, but the European Pattern Committee approved its switch to Haydock Park in 2008, at which time its prize money was increased to the current £100,000. Since then, the Temple Stakes had been won by some of the best five furlong horses of recent times, including Kingsgate Native (twice), Sole Power, Profitable – the last horse to complete the Temple Stakes-King’s Stand Stakes double – and Battaash.
The supporting card for the Temple Stakes also includes the Sandy Lane Stakes, run over 6 furlongs and restricted to three-year-olds. The Sandy Lane Stakes was promoted to Group 2 status in 2015 and, in 2017, following approval from the European Pattern Committee, brought forward in the Haydock Park programme so that is could be used more effectively as a preparatory race for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. In 2016, Quiet Reflection, trained by Karl Burke, won both races, as well as the Haydock Sprint Cup in September.
The Cecil Frail Stakes is also run over 6 furlongs, but restricted to fillies and mares aged three years and upwards. The Listed contest, inaugurated in 1999, should not be confused with its previous incarnation, the Cecil Frail Rated Stakes, which was a 0-100 rated handicap, run over 1 mile 4 furlongs, and last contested in 1996.