TAGHROODA’S unbeaten record was brought to an abrupt end as Tapestry claimed a shock victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on day two of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
The fantastic filly looked poised to claim a hat-trick of Grade One triumphs after her successes in the Epsom Oaks and King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes before the Aidan O’Brien-trained victor weaved her way through the field to land this compelling duel by half a length.
“I don’t think there were many excuses, she was just beaten by a very good horse,” said Taghrooda’s deflated jockey Paul Hanagan who enjoyed a long association with Malton’s Richard Fahey before becoming Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum’s retained rider.
“We went a nice enough gallop, I got there and I thought it would take a very good one to beat me and I think one did. No excuses.”
It remains to be seen whether Taghrooda, trained by John Gosden, rounds off her career in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Europe’s blue riband race – before being retired to stud.
This was a second Group One triumph for Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien after dual Derby winner Australia won Wednesday’s Juddmonte International under his son Joseph.
Even though O’Brien junior made the 8st 12lb weight on Australia, it was expecting too much of the 21-year-old to make the 8st 11lb weight on Tapestry and Ryan Moore – a jockey described as the best in the world by jumps legend Ruby Walsh – was a very able substitute.
Moore, the ultimate big race tactician, was the first to concede in the winner’s enclosure that Tapestry has not lived up to the early promise that she showed last year.
“We had nothing to lose,” he said. “Tracking Taghrooda seemed the best play we had. She had to battle. The other filly had plenty of time to come back if she was good enough. They are two very good fillies – they were seven lengths clear and I think that says it all really.”
As for O’Brien, he said: “She’s come forward with every run and the last day in the Irish Oaks she stumbled coming out of the stalls and the saddle went out on her rump. It was hard to believe she went the whole race with the saddle where it was and still just got beaten. She’s a Galileo filly and is just getting better. Ryan gave her a great ride.”
Future plans are up for discussion, but O’Brien said: “It wouldn’t matter where it was, colts or fillies, it’s the ground that is important to her. You wouldn’t want to run her in soft ground.”
As for next year’s Classic calculations, pocket rocket Tiggy Wiggy heads the 1000 Guineas ante-post market after making every yard of the running to claim the Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes at York for trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Richard Hughes.
Malton trainer Brian Ellison’s stable star Top Notch Tonto was foiled in the final strides of the Clipper Logistics Handicap by Short Squeeze who was the beneficiary of a nerveless last-to-first ride by Pat Smullen.
There was a popular winner of the finale when Bragging prevailed under James Doyle – Sir Michael Stoute’s horse is owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah whose racing manager, Lord Grimthorpe, is the ever cheerful chairman of York Racecourse.
Today it is the turn of the sprinters as Eddie Lynam’s battle-hardened Sole Power looks to win a second Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes following his shock 100-1 win four years ago.
Sole Power has since proved that the win was no fluke and become one of the best sprinters on the planet. His wins include this year’s King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, he missed the July Cup because of soft ground and then missed some training because of a skin infection.
“My gut feeling is that he may not be quite in the same form as he was before Royal Ascot, but he is coming back to himself day by day so we take him to York hopeful rather than confident,” said County Meath-based Lynam.
“This will be the fourth time that he has run in the Nunthorpe. He is about 45 kilos heavier now than when he won it in 2010 so he has developed a lot and got a lot stronger.”
Eight of the 15 runners are trained in Yorkshire with Take Cover carrying the hopes of Bawtry trainer David Griffiths, a former riding instructor at the Northern Racing College.
Take Cover, the mount of the aforementioned Doyle, was three lengths behind Sole Power at Royal Ascot but has won a Listed race at York and the King George at Glorious Goodwood.
“We’ve got to take on Sole Power, Hot Streak, Pearl Secret and those guys are obviously very good. I think Sole Power is the one seriously, seriously good horse that you would be scared of, but I think we are entitled to take our chance,” said Griffiths.
Just behind Take Cover at Goodwood was Harry Redknapp’s Moviesta who is returning to his best form for Hambleton trainer Bryan Smart who is hopeful of a good run. He said: “I’m a Yorkshireman so to go to the Ebor meeting with some good chances is what it’s all about. To get a winner is the dream.”
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