Taghrooda wins the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot
Last Updated: 26/07/14 6:57pm
Taghrooda wins the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Oaks heroine Taghrooda retained her unbeaten record in the Group One King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Held-up near the rear of the field by Paul Hanagan, the Epsom winner made smooth progress on the approach to the straight with the jockey always keeping the leaders in his sights.
Mukhadram had taken over from the pacesetting Leitir Mor on the turn with favourite Telescope in his slipstream but the filly cut them down to win the prestigious prize going away.
Two Classic winners, Workforce and Eswarah, had failed to follow up against their elders in this mile and a half contest and no three-year-old had won the race in more than a decade but connections opted to bypass last weekend's Irish Oaks in order to take their chance.
Ronan Whelan set a fierce gallop and most of the field were content to lay off the pace he set with his stablemate, Trading Leather, caught rather wide of the field in the early stages.
Taghrooda settled perfectly for Hanagan towards the rear, in company with her stablemate the supplemented Eagle Top, with their trainer John Gosden's third runner in midfield with Magician.
The Coral-Elicpse winner Mukhadram was the first to strike for home but Ryan Moore almost immediately asked the favourite to go and pick him up which he did but he made hard work of getting past.
All the while, Taghrooda was eating into their lead and the filly gradually found her stride and hit top gear to sail past the pair and claim a famous success by an impressive three lengths.
The daughter of Sea The Stars is only the second filly after Pawneese in 1976 to complete the Epsom Oaks-King George double in the same season.
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.
"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.
"It's an amazing feeling to win this race and I've got to thank Sheikh Hamdan for giving me the opportunity to ride her," he continued. "I actually heard the roar as I headed up the straight - I'd never heard a crowd react like that before.
"I was probably further back than I liked to have been in the early part of the race as they went so quick but she can only go as quick as she can, so I had to be patient."
"I was quite confident when we got alongside Ryan as I know she stays well and she's galloped all the way to the line. It's brilliant for myself and also my family. I've got to thank the whole team as, without them, she wouldn't even get here.
"This season has been amazing and that just capped it all off. It was such a buzz and something that you never think would happen. The reception she is getting is just out of this world.
"I have to make a very tough decision and Mukhadram ran very well - I am so proud of him. I am so delighted for the whole team, it's brilliant, a great job. It feels like she has hardly had a race, she is so laidback and it's so important to have a temperament like that."
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."
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."
Sky Bet cut Taghrooda to 5/1 from 14s for Longchamp's autumn showpiece, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, a race her sire also won and Gosden added: "It (the Arc) would make some sense, but it's entirely up to the owner.
"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."
The Leeds firm's Michael Shinners said: "It's no surprise that Taghrooda has jumped to the head of the betting given the way she outgalloped high-class rivals to win the King George.
"She won't receive the same amount of weight in the Arc from her older rivals, but she's clearly progressing all the time and has vindicated her owner's sporting decision to bypass the Irish Oaks."
Eagle Top stayed on into fourth on just his fourth career start and Sky Bet cut the Royal Ascot winner to 4/1 from 7/1 for the St Leger at Doncaster in September.
Gosden was delighted with his run, adding: "Eagle Top ran a super race. We didn't get to run him last year and he is still on the immature side. He will come on a bundle and is a lovely horse in the making."
Hugo Lascelles, racing manager to Eagle Top's owner Lady Bamford, poured cold water on the idea of a tilt at the season's final classic.
"We were very pleased with him - it was only his fourth start," he said.
"The filly is unbelievable and the second and third were hard and professional. So we are encouraged and it was worth running as he did not disgrace himself at all.
"There is plenty to look forward to with Eagle Top. I would say he will have a bit of a break now - he is in the Leger but I don't think he will go there. There are no plans yet."
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?"