Seven Days: Perfect News For Haggas

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The camera phones will be out in force when Baaeed makes his swansong | Racingfotos.com

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Few, if any, trainers have been in more consistent form this season than William Haggas, who now finds himself atop the table in Britain, with a strike-rate of 27% for the season. His earnings of £4,611,340 at the time of writing place him narrowly ahead of reigning champion Charlie Appleby.

Top of the Somerville Lodge list of horses, and the earner of roughly a third of the yard's prize-money this year, is of course arguably the best horse in the world, Baaeed (GB), around whom continues to swirl uncertainty as to where we will see him next. What we now know with some certainty is that he will appear only once more on the racecourse, but whether that will be at Ascot or ParisLongchamp seems largely dependent on how soft the ground becomes in October following a drought-ridden summer.

The Haggas stable is no one-trick pony, however. Star of the show Baaeed is backed by a supporting cast which includes G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Alenquer (Fr), the Group 2 and 3 winners Sea La Rosa (Ire), Maljoom (Ire), Purlepay (Fr), Lilac Road (Ire), My Prospero (Ire), Ilarab (Ire), Bashkirova (GB), and the Haggas family homebred, Hamish (GB). A particularly pleasing result for the team would have been the victory nine days ago of Perfect News (GB) in the G3 Ballyogan S., a first at group level for the daughter of Frankel (GB) and the former Haggas-trained G2 Lowther S. winner Besharah (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), who died earlier this year at the age of just nine.

The championship is far from over, with some of the most valuable races of the season still to be run during an action-packed autumn. Haggas will doubtless be guided not just by weather forecasts but by Baaeed's owner Sheikha Hissa when it comes to deciding on the colt's swansong. While the Arc is the more valuable race overall, the near £750,000 on offer for the winner of the QIPCO British Champion S. could potentially make the difference for Haggas to gain his own championship for the first time.

The relentless winner-producing machine that is Mark Johnston reached a new milestone in the last week when passing the 5,000 mark. Technically speaking, the Johnston counter was reset to zero on New Year's Day 2022 when the trainer brought son Charlie on board as co-trainer, but only a pedant could insist that Johnston senior, one of racing's most successful participants and clearest thinkers, could be denied a continuing tally. 

Donny Dances to the Tune

I was strolling on a quiet Scottish beach last week while my colleague Brian Sheerin did the hard yards at the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale. The Highland idyll was interrupted every now and then to check on proceedings at Doncaster, where the words 'frenetic' and 'hunger' appeared to be being bandied around with frequency. Indeed, the final results testified to the strength in demand across the board that is extremely welcome at a yearling sale pitched at a more everyday level than the elite boutiques of Arqana August, Goffs Orby or Tattersalls October Book 1.

There had been pre-sale angst in some quarters that the relatively new Tattersalls Somerville Sale had been taking some of the Premier Sale's ground but that appears to have been unfounded, and Donny did as Donny does, only better again than last year. A rise in the number of six-figure lots and strong clearance rate pulled the rest of the sale up by its bootstraps to deliver what appears to be a satisfying set of figures.

The results from next Tuesday's Somerville Sale will be indicative as to whether this level of demand is set to continue as the season wears on. Considering racing's myriad problems, particularly in Britain, it is heartening, and perhaps somewhat mystifying, that this bullish market for horses continues not just at the very top level but on lower tiers as well. Yes, to a degree, there will be people buying with a close eye on the overseas resale market, and that includes the bold breeze-up pinhookers. But a scroll through the results shows that there remains a huge range of trainers waving their catalogues to start the annual restocking of their yards, which is an encouraging sign.

John and Jess Dance's Manor House Farm was the second-leading buyer at the sale which must remain a favourite to them, having purchased the mighty Laurens (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) at Doncaster six years ago. The Dances can also take encouragement from the excellent start made at Manor House by their resident trainer James Horton, who now has 12 wins to his name and sent out his first stakes winner at the weekend when Sam Maximus (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) won the Listed Hopeful S. at Newmarket. The 3-year-old was bred by Whitsbury Manor Stud, which continues to enjoy an excellent year courtesy of its graduates. 

The sales caravan rolls on next to the somewhat depleted Osarus Yearling Sale at La Teste de Buch on Tuesday, with much livelier fare likely to emanate from Germany's main event, the BBAG Yearling Sale, on Friday. I've been lured back from the beach for a return to the glorious spa town of Baden-Baden later this week. Go figure. 

Buick Forges On

There are few nicer people to bump into for a quick chat at the sales than Walter Buick and his son Martin, who now works with agent Hubie de Burgh having completed a stint with the Niarchos family. Walter, a former multiple champion jockey in Scandinavia, is a regular buyer for a number of his contacts in that part of the world and can count this year's Swedish Derby and Norwegian Derby winner Hard One To Please (Ire) (Fast Company {Ire}) among his recent purchases. 

The greatest result of the season for the Buick family, however, will be if William, the eldest of Walter's three sons, is crowned champion jockey at Ascot in October, and it is a scenario that becomes more likely by the day.

After an extraordinary week, particularly at Goodwood, where he won all three group races on Saturday and eight of his 12 rides there across the weekend, William added another 13 wins to his name and is now 43 clear in the championship (though only nine wins ahead of Hollie Doyle for the year as a whole). 

Tempus Fugit

While William Buick was hogging the Goodwood group action, his nearest pursuer for the title of champion jockey, Hollie Doyle, added yet another black-type victory to her increasingly impressive record at Deauville on Tempus (GB) (Kingman {GB}), who has now won back-to-back Group 3 races for Archie Watson and the Hambleton Racing syndicate.

Tempus was already a four-time winner with a rating of 97 for Roger Charlton and Juddmonte when he came up for sale exactly a year ago, and it now seems scarcely believable that the half-brother to Time Test (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) was bought for just 25,000gns. But by the time he popped up in the Tattersalls August Sale he had missed all of the 2021 season with what Juddmonte's useful and typically fulsome sales notes described as “sub condyle bone bruising in his left fore and left hind cannon bones” and which noted that Tempus had “exhibited a high level of form but is delicate”.

So, caveat emptor and all that, but in this case the outlay of 25,000gns was a risk worth taking because Tempus really is now flying. Making his first start for more than a year, and since being gelded, the 6-year-old won at Newcastle on January 2 and, with another five starts and a ratings rise to 103, he struck again at Ascot on July 23. Following that latest handicap success his two subsequent runs–and wins–have been in the G3 Sovereign S. at Salisbury, followed by Sunday's G3 Prix de Quincey. What next for the son of Group 1 winner Passage Of Time (GB)?

And talking of time flying, Deauville's August meeting has passed in what seems like the blink of an eye, and it has been a fruitful one for the Andre Fabre-trained Botanik (GB), who won the G3 Prix de Reux followed by Sunday's G2 Grand Prix de Deauville. With seven wins under his belt he thus becomes the top performer for his sire Golden Horn (GB). The Derby and Arc winner of 2015 recently moved from Dalham Hall Stud to Overbury Stud and has been represented in the past fortnight by the Ebor winner Trawlerman (GB) and Juddmonte's Listed Galtres S. winner Haskoy (GB), who appears to be heading next to the G2 Park Hill S. at Doncaster. 

Classic Potential?

If you saddle a horse with the name Classic, you'd have to be pretty sure he was worthy of such a portentous moniker. In the case of the 2-year-old Classic (GB), a winner at Newmarket for Richard Hannon on Friday, he had justifiable claims to a proper name just on paper, for the colt is a son of Dubawi (Ire) out of the stakes-placed Date With Destiny (Ire), the only offspring of the subfertile and ill-fated superstar George Washington (Ire).

Date With Destiny raced in the colours of Julie Wood, who now owns her son Classic. She has already produced the Group 3 winner Beautiful Morning (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), and Classic could yet surpass his elder sister as he has some pretty fancy entries in the coming months. 

“He still has signs of immaturity there but he is a very talented horse,” said Hannon of the colt, who was making his third start on Friday. “It wouldn't surprise me if we see him turn up at the top level, especially on soft ground. We will speak to Julie but she is never afraid of taking on these big races. I'd say there is a fair chance we go to the Champagne at Doncaster next.”

The Group 2 on September 10 is certainly a race in which the trainer has enjoyed plenty of success, having won three of the last eight runnings of the Champagne S.

Date With Destiny, who is now 14, remains in the Newsells Park Stud broodmare band and will be represented at Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale by her colt from the first crop of another Newsells Park graduate, the Arc winner Waldgeist (GB).

Secretariat's Silks For Sale

With the yearling sales in full flow, there is of course no guarantee that any of us will ever find a horse as good as Secretariat, but next Tuesday there is (bizarrely) a chance to bid for the right to register the famous colours carried by Penny Chenery's Triple Crown winner.

Officially described as 'royal blue and white check, striped sleeves, royal blue cap', the set of colours formerly worn by the champion lovingly known as 'Big Red' is one of six to be offered for auction by the BHA during Sotheby's sporting memorabilia sale on September 6. The sextet of cherished colours also includes the distinctive set of aquamarine jacket and black cap and, according to the BHA's notes, the auction “presents the opportunity to purchase a unique set of silks that are not available to own through any alternative avenue”. 

The guide price for Secretariat's silks is £5,000-£10,000. Then all you have to do is find a horse to wear them who moves like a tremendous machine. 

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