Lowther Stakes: William Haggas's success extends hot home streak


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William Haggas, working out of Newmarket, but Yorkshire born and bred and proud of it, could not have dreamt of a better start to his beloved Ebor meeting as Tasleet and Besharah added to the opening day successes of Recorder and Storm The Stars to make it a perfect four wins from his first four runners.

Tasleet’s victory in the valuable sales race was fully expected, but Haggas confessed he had to “pinch myself” after Besharah trounced the highly regarded Lumiere and Easton Angel in the Group two Lowther Stakes.

“I didn’t think she could do that to those two good fillies, but she’s obviously better over six furlongs,” said Haggas, now looking forward to upgrading in Newmarket’s Group One Cheveley Park Stakes next month.

The dream ended abruptly when a fifth stable runner, Mange All, flopped in the next, but Haggas has another major contender on Friday, Muthmir in the Nunthorpe Stakes, although he fears the ground might still be too slow for his star sprinter.

Muthmir is best of the home brigade on paper, but he is not only up against Sole Power, twice a winner of this Group One, but also the US phenomenon Acapulco, the turbocharged juvenile filly who lit up Royal Ascot in the Queen Mary Stakes.

You will never hear Wesley Ward talking down his horses, but the California-based trainer has never sounded so utterly confident as when discussing Acapulco this week. “I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going. She is really going to bring her A-game. I don’t think there will be any excuses.”

No two-year-old has won the Nunthorpe since 2007 and, though only seven have run, two were Group winners and they could not take advantage of their massive weight concession.

But while the weight-for-age allowance two-year-olds receive from their elders might not be so telling in ordinary circumstances, the muscle-bound Acapulco is no ordinary juvenile. In Ward’s words, she is “a monstrous filly, almost like she’s a four-year-old.”

Acapulco will be partnered for the first time by Irad Ortiz, which gives the race a subplot after the Puerto Rican-born rider was accused of performing the jockey equivalent of diving in the penalty area when exaggerating interference to such a degree in the prestigious Beverly D Stakes in Chicago last weekend that the British trained Secret Gesture, ridden by Jamie Spencer, was disqualified after finishing first past the post. Spencer renews rivalry on Wind Fire.

If taking around 2-1 about a twice-raced two-year-old filly against streetwise sprinters is not your idea of a sound investment, there are plenty of viable each-way alternatives in a race that has produced shock results in three of the past five years. One is Profitable at 40-1. In a vintage crop of three-year-old sprinters this improver is not that far behind the best of them, finishing fifth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on his last start.

The Yorkshire Oaks went to the Irish-trained Pleascach, whose trainer Jim Bolger gave rider Kevin Manning credit for the success. “Kevin felt she didn’t like having her stride broken on her last two runs, so he said he was just going to let her do her own thing, ‘cuddle’ her all the way round and she would deliver when needed.”

The Irish 1,000 Guineas winner did just that, wearing down the Irish Oaks heroine Covert Love in the dying strides. Pleascach’s next big target is likely to be the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp on Arc day.