A BRILLIANTLY executed ride from Paul Hanagan went a long way to helping Mukhadram finally enjoy his day in the sun in an fascinating tactical battle for Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse.
The five-year-old finished a luckless third in the Sandown showpiece 12 months earlier, and he kicked off 2014 with another excellent effort in defeat when runner-up in the Dubai World Cup. The deployment of the pacemaker on his return to the Royal meeting last month backfired as William Haggas’ stable star could only manage an honourable fourth, but he reverted to more forceful tactics on Saturday and it worked.
Hanagan caught his contemporaries napping as he kicked clear a full quarter-mile for home and his rivals never looked like bridging the gap thereafter as the 14-1 chance passed the post two lengths clear to break his Group One duck.
Last year’s Irish Derby winner Trading Leather was best of the rest in second, with 100-1 front-runner Somewhat in third perhaps further evidence the pacesetting trio got too much rope.
One of those ridden with more restraint was Prince of Wales’s Stakes heroine and hot favourite The Fugue while Epsom Derby runner-up Kingston Hill ran with credit in fourth. But nothing should be taken from the winner, who is likely to return to Ascot in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on 26 July.
Haggas said: “He has stamina in his pedigree, he’s a resolute galloper, and I’d like to ask Sheikh Hamdan (Al Maktoum) if I can run him in the King George. We’ve always believed in him and I’m thrilled for everyone he’s gone and done it.”
Elsewhere on an excellent card, the Olly Stevens-trained Extortionist (13-2) collected the Group Three Coral Charge.
Stevens said: “I won’t make any rash decisions and he needs quick ground, but we were thinking of Goodwood next [King George Stakes].”
Despite The Fugue’s disappointing showing in the Eclipse, it was still another fine afternoon for trainer John Gosden.
As well as saddling Belle D’Or (11-2) to win Sandown’s Coral Distaff, the master of Clarehaven House dominated the finish to the bet365 Lancashire Oaks up at Haydock, with 8-1 shot Pomology edging out better fancied stablemate Sultanina.
The most valuable race on Merseyside was the bet365 Old Newton Cup, with victory for Newmarket-based Italians Marco Botti and Andrea Atzeni with 9-1 shot De Rigeur. Attentions switched to across the Pond on Saturday evening as Dubai hero Toast Of New York lined up in the Belmont Derby for Jamie Osborne and Jamie Spencer, but the three-year-old got only sixth place behind home runner Mr Speaker. Aidan O’Brien’s Irish raider Adelaide was second.
Haggas put the seal on a fine weekend when Graphic claimed the Group 3 Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte yesterday, while Sea The Moon kept his unbeaten record as he rompedhome in the German Derby at Hamburg.
Markus Klug’s inmate was cut to as low as 7-1 to emulate sire, Sea The Stars, and win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October.