Taghrooda powers home to claims Oaks glory

Sheikh Hamdan enjoys one-two as Weld runner Tarfasha behind in second place

Taghrooda, ridden by Paul Hanagan, wins the Oaks during Ladies Day at the Epsom Derby Festival. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Taghrooda, ridden by Paul Hanagan, wins the Oaks during Ladies Day at the Epsom Derby Festival. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters


John Gosden reckons today’s Derby will be solo-show for Australia and if Aidan O’Brien’s blue-riband favourite wins with the same aplomb that Gosden’s star filly Taghrooda won yesterday’s Oaks then the Epsom crowd is in for a rare treat.

The Newmarket trainer runs Western Hymn and Romsdal against Australia this afternoon but firmly nailed his colours to the Derby mast with a bold prediction: “It’s all about one horse – the rest of us are playing for place money.”

Since Gosden won the Derby with Benny The Dip in 1997, and knows all about the potential difficulties of winning around Epsom’s unique contours thanks to The Fugue’s luckless passage through the Oaks two years ago, that represents a substantial declaration of faith in the Irish star.

He is also renowned as one of the most perceptive trainers around so when the form of Taghrooda’s warm-up victory at Newmarket was repeatedly knocked on the run up to this Classic Gosden’s faith in the filly remained undiminished.

Daughter of Sea the Stars

And for once the style of that Pretty Polly performance rather than the substance of the form proved decisive. The daughter of Sea The Stars powered to an authoritative success over another Sheikh Hamdan-owned filly in Dermot Weld’s Tarfasha that was never in doubt from a long way out.

Halfway down the hill Paul Hanagan was taking a pull on Taghrooda while all around him were starting to get busy. At that stage Joseph O’Brien was already getting busy on the 4-1 favourite Marvellous who struggled home in sixth. Richard Hughes made a clever attempt to make all on Volume but at the two-furlong pole Hanagan sent Taghrooda on and the race was over.

It was a first classic for the former champion jockey, and a first Group One for his boss, Sheikh Hamdan who was winning the Oaks for the third time.

Significantly it was a first classic for the winner’s sire, Sea The Stars, from his first crop. The first three home could all clash again in the Irish Oaks next month.

“She’s in the Irish Oaks, that’s the logical place to go,” Gosden said. “It’s a good honest galloping track. We’ll go there and after that take a look.”

‘A great relief’

It was a first Oaks success for the trainer who pointed out: “Two years ago we should have won it with The Fugue but she almost got knocked over so it has been a race owing to the stable.

“To that extent it’s a great relief. It was a smooth ride, always in a great position and she was able to assert and show her class.”

If the Curragh Oaks is Taghrooda’s immediate target, there would be longer-term significance in that the unbeaten filly is as low as 12 to 1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, a race her sire famously won in 2009.

Yesterday’s fourth Inchila looked unlucky through the race and Peter Chapple-Hyam reported: “The plan was to lead but she fell out of the stalls. The winner won very well but maybe we should have been second.”

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