Racing: Haafhd way to happiness

2,000 Guineas: Hills family affair as son Richard drives the pride of father Barry's yard to Classic joy

One of the unfailing attractions of this game is its continuity; the fact that, although an individual event can stand alone as a spectacle, specific threads can be traced through the tapestry of history. And yesterday's 196th 2,000 Guineas was very much a case in point.

One of the unfailing attractions of this game is its continuity; the fact that, although an individual event can stand alone as a spectacle, specific threads can be traced through the tapestry of history. And yesterday's 196th 2,000 Guineas was very much a case in point.

The winner, Haafhd, provided trainer Barry Hills with his second edition of the race, the first being Tap On Wood's 25 years ago. Haafhd set his own Rowley Mile family record straight, avenging the whisker defeat of his dam, Al Bahathri, in the filly Guineas in 1985.

And 79-year-old Snowy Outen, a linchpin in Hills' employ since the year dot, finally got to lead up every stable lad's dream, a Classic winner.

Visually, it was a curious contest, but one run at a true gallop. As the 14 runners broke from the stalls, misty in the distance on a chilly, grey afternoon, they did not form a pack, but progressed as individuals up the broad, straight course.

Barbajuan and the two pacemakers, Tumblebrutus for Ballydoyle and Golden Sahara for Godolphin, were the trio forming a widely spaced front rank in the early exchanges.

Haafhd, ridden by the trainer's son, Richard, was one of those in Golden Sahara's wake, never worse than fourth. Once Hills pressed the button going past the Bushes, Sheikh Hamdan's home-bred chestnut lengthened his stride down the incline into the dip and kept up his relentless gallop on the climb to the winning post. His nearest pursuer at the line, a length and three-quarters adrift, was the Godolphin No 1, Snow Ridge, with staying-on Irish raider Azamour a length away third, a head in front of his compatriot Grey Swallow.

Whipper, for France, came in fifth and Salford City sixth.

"This is a very good horse," said the winning rider. "It was a strange Guineas, as the runners were spread all over the course, but I just concentrated on getting Haafhd into a rhythm. He wanted to go after the ones in front, but I didn't want him to be doing too much. They knocked him after he won his trial here, but he's proved his worth today."

As far as Hills Snr is concerned, Haafhd, who burst on to the top-level scene with his wide-margin victory in last month's Craven Stakes here, is the real deal, the best miler he has ever trained. "Tap On Wood's Guineas was a very decent one - he beat Kris and Young Generation - and this horse had been working his equal at home, so I knew he had a terrific chance today. He's actually a trainer's dream, so laid-back, with a great attitude to life. We had an easy winter with the horses, but a rotten spring, and it was a relief to us all in the yard that everything went like clockwork after the horse won his trial here last month."

Haafhd stood out in the preliminaries, not so much for his physique - he is built on long, low lines - but for the wellbeing that emanated from the ripple of muscle beneath his sleek, glowing, golden hide. His condition did the man who cares for him daily proud. "I gave up riding when I was 70," said Outen, who previously came closest to a Classic win when Berkeley Springs was beaten a neck in the 1,000 Guineas in 1966, "but I'm not ready to retire."

The Lambourn-based Hills, 67, is one of the shrewdest trainers in the business, with victories in most of Europe's top races on his CV. Yesterday's gave him special pleasure, in that it was the first he had shared with the younger of his twin sons. "It was my sweetest moment in racing since I won the 1973 Arc with Rheingold," he said.

The one trophy missing from the Hills mantelpiece is the one for the Derby, but it is unlikely that Haafhd, whose name means "protector" in Arabic, will remedy the omission. The son of Alhaarth neither runs like or is bred to be a top 12-furlong performer, and although he was inserted into Epsom lists at around 8-1 by bookmakers, his next day of days is likely to be the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next month. "He might get 10 furlongs," said Hills, "but probably later on in the year."

But the runner-up Snow Ridge ran a fine blue riband trial and is now third favourite, behind Yeats and American Post. The Indian Ridge colt, an elegant, dark bay with a long, sweeping tail, was staying on strongly at the end. "Straight to the Derby now," confirmed Sheikh Mohammed.

But yesterday's 15-8 favourite, One Cool Cat, Yeat's Ballydoyle stablemate, flopped completely, under pressure from halfway and virtually pulled up in the end, cantering past the post with Golden Sahara at the tail of the field. It was reported that his heartbeat was irregular after the race.

RACE DETAILS

1 Haafhd R Hills 11-2
2 Snow Ridge L Dettori 8-1
3 Azamour M J Kinane 25-1

Trainer: B Hills
Owner: H Al Maktoum
Distances: 1 3/4l, 1l
Favourite: One Cool Cat 15-8

Suggested Topics
News
news
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
News
i100
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore