Royal Ascot - At The Races

William Haggas Stable Tour

    The Master of Somerville Lodge enjoys regular success at the major meetings and here he gives us the inside scoop on his representatives over the five days of Royal Ascot 2018.
  • Friday 15 June 2018
  • Stable Tours

William Haggas has extra special reason to look fondly upon Royal Ascot - his first winner Yeast (1996) ran in the colours of his dad Brian and his second, Superstar Leo (2000), was half-owned by father-in-law Lester Piggott.

‘The Longfellow’ of course dominated the great meeting for so many years, riding a total of 116 winners that included two eight-timers, and Haggas came up trumps for him again as an owner when Mont Etoile landed the 2006 Ribblesdale.

“Of course, it was great to win there for the old man,” says the trainer of Yeast’s trailblazing Royal Hunt Cup triumph. “But it was also a relief to open my account at the meeting.

“There was plenty of confidence behind the horse. He’d won an early-season maiden at Newcastle, giving loads of weight as a four-year-old to Wixim, who went on to win the following year’s Sandown Mile for Roger Charlton.

“I knew from speaking to Roger that he thought a lot of his horse - which is why he started odds-on that day - so we felt Yeast was well treated even after he’d won the Victoria Cup on his handicap debut.

“The race went like clockwork. Kieren Fallon basically made all and didn’t see another rival. That was off 87 and the horse went up to 112 at his peak, so you could say it was one of my better efforts!”

Haggas, who also won the Derby that year with Shaamit, has gone on to prove one of the best in the business, setting himself very high standards, so it’s not surprising to learn he’s rather underwhelmed by an overall tally of eight Royal Ascot winners.

“Any winner there is special and while I’m grateful for the ones we’ve had, there haven’t been enough of them,” he adds. “But the team’s in good form and hopefully we can add to the scoreboard, albeit I’m realistic - it’s not as though we’ve got any hot favourites.”

Older Horses

Humble Hero (IRE)

  • 4-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: High Chaparral - Alamouna (Indian Ridge)
  • Trained by: W J Haggas
  • Last Race: Wolverhampton, 20 Oct 2018 18:45
  • Result: 6/10, steadied and switched left start, raced keenly in rear, ridden and hung left over 1f out, switched right and kept on inside final furlong, never nearer
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Gelded at the end of last season when rated 89 courtesy of a small-field handicap success at Newcastle off 5lb lower mark. Arguably unlucky at Chester on second run back off 88 (beaten only a head after getting bumped by winner) and another solid effort when third off 91 at Goodwood last time.

Trainer Says:

We’ve stepped him up to 1m6f but I’d like to go back to his winning trip for the Duke Of Edinburgh - if he gets in. He ran particularly well at Chester from a difficult draw and would appreciate a strongly-run 1m4f.

Video Form
20 Oct 2018:
30 Jun 2018:
12 Sep 2017:
18 Jun 2017:
24 May 2017:

Mubtasim (IRE)

Form Profile:

Doncaster sales race winner who has run well in Group company without adding to tally since his juvenile days. Gelded since last season and recent close second in Listed event at Haydock confirms he has retained his ability (currently rated 106).

Trainer Says:

We tried a hood on him last time and he relaxed more over 7f that day so I’m tempted to give a mile a go and run him in the Hunt Cup, which would be the first time he’s contested a handicap. Alternatively, we might wait for the Criterion at Newmarket

Video Form
1 Sep 2018:
26 Apr 2018:
16 Jul 2017:
8 Sep 2016:
30 Jun 2016:

Original Choice (IRE)

Form Profile:

Progressive handicapper whose latest win from tricky wide draw at Wetherby has raised his rating to 97 (up 3lb). Holds a John Smith’s Cup entry, suggesting a step up in trip could be around the corner.

Trainer Says:

Lovely, honest horse for whom the Hunt Cup has been a target for a while. Hopefully he’ll squeeze in near the foot of the weights. We took him out of York because of the quick ground and he was going to run at Epsom until a small setback knocked that plan on the head. He’s fine again now and I’m happy with his preparation. We’ll have to see about the ground - fingers crossed it will have enough cushion to it. He gets a strongly-run mile really well, so the race should suit him.

Video Form
24 Mar 2018:
17 Apr 2017:

Seniority

Form Profile:

Full-brother to a Group 3 winner and owned by The Queen, he won a fast-ground maiden at Newmarket on his debut as a two-year-old, his three subsequent victories all coming on the all-weather. The latest of those was at Chelmsford on June 13, giving him an outside chance of making the cut for the Hunt Cup (5lb penalty takes him up to a mark of 96).

Trainer Says:

It would be lovely to have a royal runner in the race, but it’s in the lap of the gods as to whether he’ll get in. He’d be an interesting contender because he won with a bit in hand the other day and wants quick ground on turf.

Video Form
13 Jun 2018:
3 May 2018:
29 Nov 2017:
14 Aug 2017:
5 Jul 2017:

Tasleet

Form Profile:

Won the Duke Of York last year before going down by only a neck in the Diamond Jubilee here. Also finished second in the Sprint Cup at Haydock and on return to Ascot for the Champions Sprint, confirming his versatility ground wise (has high-class form on good to firm through to heavy). Solid third on his reappearance in Group 2 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh.

Trainer Says:

He badly needed that first run back and will be a lot sharper for it. The ground at last year’s meeting was as quick as he’d want it and any easing of underfoot conditions would be in his favour.

Video Form
26 May 2018:
16 Apr 2016:

Urban Fox (GB)

Form Profile:

Bought out of James Tate’s yard for 425,000 guineas at the December mares sale as a three-time winner rated 97 (had been as high as 104 after finishing second in a Guineas trial). Instant hit for her new stable, edging out a good yardstick in Tribute Act at Ascot (form working out well with third and fourth both winning next time).

Trainer Says:

We’re still learning about her but that was a good start and she appears to have come on for the run. She’s in a good place at home, working well and should get the fast ground she wants in the Duke Of Cambridge.

Video Form
7 Oct 2018:
1 Jul 2018:
8 Sep 2016:
9 Jun 2016:

Three Year Olds

Completion (IRE)

  • 3-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Arch - Minute Limit (Pivotal)
  • Trained by: W J Haggas
  • Last Race: Pontefract, 8 Oct 2018 15:10
  • Result: 3/8, tracked leaders, driven to challenge over 2f out, led over 1f out, ridden and headed inside final furlong, kept on same pace
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Three quick runs on the all-weather this winter, including victory at Newcastle, was followed by handicap debut win in above-average Class 4 event at Redcar (he and the runner-up drew clear, the latter scoring in Class 2 company at Chelmsford next time and running well in hot handicaps at Newbury and Epsom). Improved again to finish second off 92 in Haydock’s ever competitive Silver Bowl, for which he’s gone up another 4lb.

Trainer Says:

Very genuine, kind horse whose attitude will always stand him in good stead. James Doyle was a bit annoyed with himself at Haydock as he felt he got there too soon. There shouldn’t be any shortage of cover in the Britannia and he’s very much at home on fast ground.

Video Form
17 Feb 2018:
19 Jan 2018:
2 Jan 2018:

Ertiyad

  • 3-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Dark Angel - Lily Again (American Post)
  • Trained by: W J Haggas
  • Last Race: Ascot, 11 Aug 2018 16:00
  • Result: 6/10, held up and behind, ridden over 2f out, kept on inside final furlong, never troubled leaders
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Soft-ground maiden winner whose best effort in four Group 3 outings to date was a close-up fourth in last summer’s Sweet Solera at Newmarket. Likely to appreciate a drop in grade after failing to fire in the Nell Gwyn.

Trainer Says:

She was disappointing on her return - I had expected her to run better even though she was a big price. We’ve given her plenty of time and she’ll wear first-time blinkers in the Sandringham. It’s not the sort of thing I do lightly, but she needs headgear to help her concentrate.

Headway

Form Profile:

Just touched off in the Coventry last year and bounced back from below-par run on soft ground with good third in the Gimcrack. Impressed with the manner of his last-to-first victory in Listed race on return to action at Lingfield before failing to make an impact in the 2000 Guineas.

Trainer Says:

Newmarket didn’t work out for him and he took a fair while to recover from the race. However, he’s back in good form and the Jersey looks perfect for him as the drop back to 7f on fast ground should prove ideal.

Video Form
3 Mar 2018:

Society Power (IRE)

  • 3-y-o; bay colt
  • Breeding: Society Rock - Yajala (Fasliyev)
  • Trained by: W J Haggas
  • Last Race: Ascot, 20 Jun 2018 17:35
  • Result: 2/21, raced centre, held up in rear, good headway far side of group over 1f out, ran on inside final furlong, went 2nd towards finish, never near winner
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Five straight wins since his narrow debut defeat, the last three in handicaps which has seen his rating rise from 91 to 105. Seems to do just enough each time, so could be more to come despite the imminent step up to Group company.

Trainer Says:

He was impressive over course and distance two outings ago and again showed a fine turn of foot to get himself out of trouble in a typically messy affair at Goodwood last time. He’s earned the right to move into pattern company and the Jersey is the obvious race for him.

Video Form
2 Apr 2018:
6 Oct 2017:
6 Sep 2017:
21 Aug 2017:

Two Year Olds

Queen Of Bermuda (IRE)

Form Profile:

Cost 230,000 guineas at the Craven breeze-up sale and hit the ground running with victories at Thirsk and Windsor after a promising debut second in strong-looking Ascot fillies’ maiden.

Trainer Says:

She’s quick and sharp and I was impressed with the way she defied a penalty at Windsor. How good she is we’ll find out here. She needs fast ground so the weather will determine which race she goes for. I’m favouring the Windsor Castle but if the ground looked like changing by the end of the week we’ve got the option of the Queen Mary or Norfolk.

Video Form
2 Nov 2018:
13 Oct 2018:
4 Jun 2018: