Claiming a place in racing history is not supposed to be easy but John Gosden’s new superstar Taghrooda made it look just that with a three-length success in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
In becoming the first three-year-old filly to beat her elder male counterparts since Pawneese in 1976, she maintained her unbeaten record and followed up another straightforward win in the Investec Oaks. Her owner Sheikh Hamdam Al Maktoum rightly took a lot of the plaudits for making the apparently bold decision to skip what looked a penalty kick in last week’s Irish Oaks, but a lot of the credit should also go to the exemplary way she has been handled by Gosden and the way she was ridden by a nerveless Paul Hanagan.
At one stage Taghrooda (7-2) looked to have plenty of work to do as Mukhadram, also owned by the Sheikh but ditched by Hanagan in favour of the filly, hit the front two furlongs out. Telescope loomed up to him looking a huge threat, but Hanagan was still sitting pretty on Taghrooda as she effortlessly made up ground to join that pair.
Without Hanagan needing to resort to the whip, she quickened up alongside the colts and with a quick flick she was gone, putting daylight between a Hardwicke winner and an Eclipse hero.
“It was a special performance and I’m very glad Sheikh Hamdan made the correct decision,” said Gosden. “She’s right up there and would have to be the best filly I’ve had over a mile and a half. She’d done very well since Epsom, she’s bigger and stronger, more powerful, and I thought Paul rode a beautiful race on her.
“Up to the furlong pole it was in doubt, but in that last furlong she showed her class and stamina.
“Going to the Irish Oaks would have been a defensive move. I think Sheikh Hamdan will place all of my horses now. Races like the Yorkshire Oaks and then the Arc – that’s probably a nice pattern for her.”
Richard Hannon’s Osaila earlier justified 7-4 favouritism in the Group 3 Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes, setting up a possible trip to Ireland for the Moyglare Stud Stakes. Hannon said: “I’d like to think she’s a Guineas filly next year.”
Heavy Metal (33-1) gave trainer Mark Johnston and jockey Joe Fanning back-to-back victories in the Longines International Stakes and could now head for Glorious Goodwood.
At York, William Haggas’s Muthmir shot to favouritism for the 32Red Cup (Stewards’ Cup) with an easy victory in the Skybet Dash, while Sheikhzayedroad (7-1) pounced late to deny Secret Gesture in the Skybet York Stakes.
At Ascot yesterday, Sir Mark Prescott unleashed his Betfred Ebor hope Pallasator in the GL Events Owen Brown Handicap at Ascot, and the well-built five-year-old duly warmed up for York’s big staying handicap with a good win under top weight.