King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes 2014: Taghrooda proves she is very special

Filly could now be given the chance to define herself as a rarer breed still by heading on to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Click to follow
The Independent Online

For her trainer John Gosden it was "something a bit special" as Taghrooda became the first three-year-old filly to claim the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in almost four decades.

It had shaped up as a tight contest, but the Oaks winner delivered a performance of such authority under Paul Hanagan that the connections of Telescope, three lengths second, and third-placed Mukhadram, the Eclipse winner, were happy with their lot. The weight-for-age scale meant that both of them were carrying over a stone more than Taghrooda.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's instinct was proved right when he decided late on to pitch Taghrooda against males and older rivals and decline the safer option of the Irish Oaks. Now she could be given the chance to define herself as a rarer breed still by heading on to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Taghrooda, unbeaten in four starts, was a 7-2 chance against the 5-2 favourite Telescope, who had been impressive in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and was representing Sir Michael Stoute, the King George past-master.

Paul Hanagan, Sheikh Hamdan's retained jockey, has usually ridden Mukhadram positively from the front, but was happy to leave the job on the five-year-old to Dane O'Neill, who took himself past the pacemaker Leitir Mor.

Mukhadram made his habitual bold break around the home bend but this was over a longer distance than the Eclipse, and Telescope was also sent about his business by Ryan Moore.

For a moment, it appeared that Taghrooda would be settling for an honourable third, but she careered past Telescope in the final furlong and matched the feat of only two other Classic generation fillies in Dahlia (1973) and Pawneese (1976).

"It was a special performance and I'm very glad Sheikh Hamdan made the correct decision," Gosden said, suggesting that the sheikh would place all of his horses now. "She's right up there and would have to be the best filly I've had over a mile and a half. The Fugue would have beaten anything over a mile and a quarter and Royal Heroine was the best at a mile. I thought he [Hanagan] rode a beautiful race."

Hanagan said: "I actually heard the roar as I headed up the straight – I'd never heard a crowd react like that before."

Taghrooda is a daughter of the marvellous Sea The Stars, and is only 3-1 with Ladbrokes to emulate her sire at Longchamp in October.

Gosden said: "It would make some sense, but it's entirely up to the owner. She's still a three-year-old filly and there's a decent weight allowance. Races like the Yorkshire Oaks and the Arc – that's probably a nice pattern for her."

Of Telescope, Harry Herbert, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing's representative, said: "It's obviously disappointing not to win, but if I said that I was standing here having finished second in the King George and it was all depressing, I'd be lying. It was a joy to watch a filly as good as that."