Friday 24 November 2017

Flying filly Taghrooda storms to King George success

Taghrooda ridden by Paul Hanagan wins the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stakes during the King George Day - Saturday at Ascot Racecourse
Taghrooda ridden by Paul Hanagan wins the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stakes during the King George Day - Saturday at Ascot Racecourse

Tom Peacock

Taghrooda struck for the younger generation when beating a stellar field in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

The Investec Oaks winner maintained her unbeaten record as the filly swept past Telescope and Mukhadram to land the high-summer showpiece in convincing fashion.

Taghrooda (7-2), trained by John Gosden and ridden by Paul Hanagan, won by an impressive three lengths from 5-2 favourite Telescope, with Mukhadram (12-1) just a short head away in third.

Hanagan said: "It's such a buzz, something you never think would happen.

"I'm just so delighted for the whole team - a great job."

Leitir Mor, the complete outsider of the eight-strong field, made the running until he was overtaken by the pack, headed by Telescope and Mukhadram, on the home turn.

Hardwicke Stakes winner Telescope and Coral-Eclipse scorer Mukhadram, wearing the Taghrooda colours of owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, tried to steal a march, but they could not see off the attentions of the Classic heroine.

The daughter of Sea The Stars surged past the pair and put the race to bed within a matter of strides to vindicate her owner's decision to bypass last weekend's Irish Oaks.

Taghrooda is only the second filly after Pawneese in 1976 to complete the Epsom Oaks-King George double in the same season.

Hanagan said: "They went hard and I didn't plan to sit that far back, but you can only go as fast as you can and she adapted really well.

"If you take a look at her she's hardly had a race - she's so laid-back."

Gosden said: "It was a special performance and I'm very glad Sheikh Hamdan made the correct decision.

"I thought it was a bold and good plan. I thought it was a bit defensive going for the other race (Irish Oaks) - I think Sheikh Hamdan will place all of my horses now.

"I'm absolutely thrilled and it was a great ride. I couldn't have been more pleased with her."

Taghrooda was cut to around 7-1 to follow in the hoofprints of her sire by winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.

Gosden said: "It (the Arc) would make some sense, but it's entirely up to the owner."

Angus Gold, racing manager for Sheikh Hamdan, highlighted Taghrooda's temperament as being a key attribute to her profile.

He said: "She's always shown us in her races that she's an extra-talented filly, but you never know until you pitch them in at the deep end.

"She's blessed with that wonderful attitude - nothing troubles her."

Gosden also suggested that Taghrooda may first head for the Yorkshire Oaks on August 21 before crossing the Channel.

He said: "She had to show a great attitude and she's been a lovely filly to train. She'll handle most grounds so we'll see.

"Races like the Yorkshire Oaks and then the Arc - that's probably a nice pattern for her."

Connections of Telescope accepted the colt had been defeated by a special horse.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: "She's a really special filly, and we've run a terrific race.

"There are no complaints - we've seriously bumped into one.

"It's obviously disappointing not to win, but if I said that I was standing here having finished second in the King George and it was all depressing, I'd be lying.

"It was a joy to watch a filly as good as that."

Mukhadram may join Taghrooda at York's Ebor festival next month.

Trainer William Haggas said: "We've run really well again. It looks like he got the trip, and I was as proud as punch.

"I'd say he'll go to the Juddmonte (International), why not?"

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