Sunday 26 May 2019

Haggas has Guineas prospect after Skardu swoops to score

William Haggas. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
William Haggas. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Skardu parachuted his way into the English 2,000 Guineas picture by maintaining his unbeaten streak when coming home strongly to land the Craven Stakes at Newmarket yesterday.

With serious doubts surrounding the participation of John Gosden's Too Darn Hot (as big as 4/1) due to a recent setback, William Haggas will fancy his chances in next month's Newmarket Classic with Skardu now as low as 6/1.

The son of Shamardal (3/1) was having just his second career start but that didn't stop him coming with a wet sail under James Doyle to score by a neck from Roger Charlton's Momkin (28/1) on the Rowley Mile, much to Haggas's delight.

"He had a nice race and relaxed well. He showed a nice turn of foot and won. He has gone from a maiden to a Group Three, so hopefully there is a bit more in him. He doesn't do a lot at home," Haggas said.

"James said he had to take a pull three out, but we are trying to educate a horse that is trying to go into the fast lane, as he has got a lot to learn. I can't fault him at the moment. If all things are equal he will be running (in the Guineas)."

Keystroke (66/1) produced a huge surprise in the other Group Three - the Abernant Stakes - for Stuart Williams as jockey Adam Kirby got the better of Richard Hannon's Yafta (7/1) and the hat-trick-seeking Brando (15/8 favourite) in a thrilling finish.

"It's a first Group winner for me on my home track, so it's very pleasing. I think the owners would like to go to Royal Ascot, so we might end up going there," a jubilant Williams said.

The Group Three Earl Of Sefton Stakes (4.10) is the headline act on the final day of the Craven meeting today where Mark Johnston's Elarqam - fourth in last year's English 2,000 Guineas - will take all the beating under Jim Crowley.

Charlie Appleby looks most likely to upset the applecart with the Newmarket trainer making a three-pronged attack on the €70,000 prize through First Contact, First Nation and Vintager.

Today's Irish action sees Rashaan go for a hat-trick of victories in the Quirke uPVC Windows Tipperary Perpetual Cup Handicap (7.15) at Clonmel.

Colin Kidd's seven-year-old has shown himself to be very useful over fences with Grade Three success at the Galway Festival last August and Niall McCullagh's mount will be primed to score by the Carlow trainer.

The Manduro gelding will have to turn up at his best, however, as the re-opposing Chess Grand Master (Joseph O'Brien) handed him a 12-length beating when the pair collided off level weights at Dundalk in February.

Irish Independent

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