Mukhadram digs deep to secure York victory
William Haggas was thrilled and relieved in equal measure after Mukhadram secured a deserved big-race triumph with a solid display in the Sky Bet York Stakes yesterday.
The Shamardal colt proved himself a top-drawer animal with a fantastic effort from the front when second in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and confirmed his quality when third in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
Coming back to Group Two class on the Knavesmire, he faced what seemed a relatively straightforward opportunity. Soon adopting his now customary front-running role in the hands of Paul Hanagan, the 4/9 favourite seemed keen to get on with his job and came under pressure at the top of the straight.
Globetrotting duo Grandeur and Wigmore Hall menacingly moved into contention, with the former looking particularly threatening once produced towards the stands' side by Frankie Dettori.
But Mukhadram would not be denied, and dug deep into his reserves once challenged to take gold by three-quarters of a length.
"I think I had him a bit fresh. He was a bit on it today," said Haggas. "I hoped he might be a bit more convincing than that, but it's a Group Two win and you don't win them every day, so we're happy.
"He came here having had two tough runs and it was time he won a Group Two or a Group One. It's a step in the right direction. I couldn't watch the race, I just listened to it. I don't normally get nervous, but I don't like those ones when you are supposed to win. I'd rather have one I think will win by nobody else does. We'll see where we go from here."
A return to York for the Juddmonte International on August 21 could now be on the agenda.
Mukhadram's victory was the second leg of a double on the card for proud Yorkshireman Haggas, with Our Obsession (11/4 favourite) winning on her belated seasonal reappearance in the Sky Bet EBF Fillies' Handicap under Dettori.
"We had high hopes for her in the spring, but then she had a setback and it has taken a long time to get her right," said Haggas. "She could now step up for the Galtres Stakes here (August 22)."
Hanagan also completed a brace when he teamed with old boss Richard Fahey as 7/2 favourite Flashman toughed it out in the skyvegas.com Handicap.
It turned out to be an afternoon to savour for Hertfordshire handler Dean Ivory. The trainer saw stable star Sirius Prospect bounce back to form in the in the Sky Bet Home of The Price Boost Handicap, before claiming the £50,000 Sky Bet Dash with the fast-improving Tropics.
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