Free Wind lands Lancashire Oaks at Haydock while jockey Robert Havlin faces ban

Free Wind claimed the Lancashire Oaks for jockey Robert Havlin and trainers John and Thady Gosden despite a troubled passage at Haydock Park.

The four-year-old signed off the previous season on top form, having produced a seven-length win in the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster. 

Sent off as the joint favourite despite this being her first run for 296 days, she looked short of speed three furlongs from the finishing line as the tempo increased.

At the head of affairs was Eshaada ridden by Jim Crowly, but attempting to squeeze through their inside was Havlin on the eventual winner.

Crowley's mount moved back towards the rails though, causing Havlin to snatch up on Free Wind, who gave the rails a hefty bump.

Eshaada lost plenty of momentum and that left William Haggas' Sea La Rose with the race almost at her mercy.

However, Free Wind was not to be outdone, and once Havlin found some rhythm, she stepped up the pace to win by two and a quarter lengths.

"She's done well to pick up again after that. Sometimes horses will lean off the rail and I thought I gave Jim half a furlong to see if he was going to go back on, the gap was there and my filly was going well," said Havlin.

"We just got tight but credit to the filly, she organised herself and picked up. We always thought she was a proper filly last year and she did it today.

"Normally if it opens straight away, you would just wait as they can roll on and off the rail, but I felt he was off the rail for long enough and his filly looked as if she was leaning into the Haggas filly (Sea La Rosa), so I thought I was going to take the opportunity as I was going well and when I got halfway there it got tight. It's all credit to the filly.

"She organised herself well. She's a filly that doesn't show a great deal at home and never has, but on the track she's been really progressive and she looks like a Group One filly.

"I'd say we'd probably aim her a bit higher than the Lillie Langtry Stakes - that was an obvious race to consider at Goodwood, but I'd imagine connections will want to go for a Group One."

After an inquiry by the stewards into the incident between Free Wind and Eshaada, a decision was made to ban Havlin for five days (July 16-20 inclusive).

They concluded Havlin had "persisted and committed for his run into an insufficient gap which was only briefly viable between the running rail and Eshaada", which caused "considerable interference" to the third and unplaced Kawida and "resulted in Free Wind turning Eshaada's hind quarters, which in turn caused both fillies to become severely unbalanced".

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