Tuesday 25 June 2019

Haggas hoping Maqsad can reign in Oaks as Moore opts for 'Dragonet'

Eight years after Dancing Rain, William Haggas can win a second Epsom Oaks today with Maqsad, runaway winner of Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes. Stock photo: AFP/Getty Images
Eight years after Dancing Rain, William Haggas can win a second Epsom Oaks today with Maqsad, runaway winner of Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes. Stock photo: AFP/Getty Images

Marcus Armytage

Eight years after Dancing Rain, William Haggas can win a second Epsom Oaks today with Maqsad, runaway winner of Newmarket's Pretty Polly Stakes.

Victory would be a watershed moment for jockey Jim Crowley, who has yet to win a Classic.

Today's Oaks looks a classy edition, with the majority of the trial winners arriving on the back of wide-margin victories. They include the John Gosden pair of Frankel fillies, Mehdaayih and Anapurna, winners from Chester and Lingfield respectively, while Maqsad left Shambolic standing to win by five lengths at Newmarket.

Of course, Aidan O'Brien's No 1 filly Pink Dogwood, the mount of Ryan Moore, is bound to improve for her seasonal debut and no one believes a Listed race at Navan is going to be the height of her achievements this season.

There is a tendency to switch off after a race like the 1,000 Guineas, but you could not help but be impressed by Maqsad two races later at the start of the month and, while she galloped through the line that day, the only worry is that she has too much speed.

"She has a lot of class," said Haggas.

"Whether she lasts the trip is the interesting bit. My gut feeling is that if she does stay, she'll go very close."

The trainer is not ruling his other filly, Frankellina, out of it either. She dead-heated for second in the Musidora on what was only her second start.

"It's hard to know what to make of the bunch finish in the Musidora," Haggas said. "I'm certain she'll get the trip, but she lacks experience and has an unhelpful draw in 14."

If one of the less-fancied horses were to cause a surprise, it could be Ralph Beckett's Manuela De Vega, who has four and a half lengths to make up on Mehdaayih. She did not have the run of the race that day, probably needed it and gave the winner 3lb.

There are some big shots in the Coronation Cup, but the 'small man' is represented by Salouen, just touched off by Cracksman in last year's race.

If Sylvester Kirk's warrior runs to the same level as he did when winning at Ascot, he'll take some beating.

Moore will ride Sir Dragonet in the Derby tomorrow, for which 13 were declared yesterday. The colt, one of seven Ballydoyle runners, is drawn widest in stall 13, which may not be ideal for one so inexperienced, though there tends to be less emphasis on the draw in a field this size.

Godolphin's Line of Duty is in stall 1, the 'coffin box'. Norway, which might be doing some of Ballydoyle's donkey work, has drawn the lucky stall 10, which boasts 10 Derby winners.

Other key jockey bookings for Ballydoyle include Frankie Dettori for Circus Maximus, Seamie Heffernan for Anthony Van Dyck and the trainer's son Donnacha, who probably will not get too many more chances to ride a Derby winner given the way his weight is likely to go, on Broome. (© Daily Telegraph, London

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