WILLIAM HAGGAS has a third Classic to his name after Sea Of Class lived up to her name to land the Irish Oaks for the Yorkshire-born trainer.
The beneficiary of a simply nerveless ride by James Doyle who overhauled Epsom Oaks heroine Forever Together on the line to win by a neck, next month’s Yorkshire Oaks is an enticing target.
The winner of two races at Newbury, Doyle adopted patient tactics on his mount, who was sired by the 2009 champion Sea The Stars – one of the great Flat horses of the 21st century.
He then came widest of all up the home straight at the Curragh, coaxing Sea Of Class into contention, and winning this prestigious race without resorting to the whip.
Last year’s victor, Enable, went on to land the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe under Frankie Dettori and could also reappear at York, either in the Yorkshire Oaks or Juddmonte International.
Yet, while Skipton-born Haggas expected Doyle to play his cards late after stepping Sea Of Class up in grade, he did not anticipate the confident exaggerated waiting tactics that were once synonymous with the trainer’s father-in-law Lester Piggott.
I did ask James to be brave, but I didn’t think he’d be that brave! He took it up fairly close home, but he said she was on her game today.Trainer William Haggas
“I did ask James to be brave, but I didn’t think he’d be that brave!” said Haggas. “He took it up fairly close home, but he said she was on her game today.
“It’s a big race for us, we don’t come here very often. This is a very good filly and we know she’s a good filly, so you want it all to go right and it’s come right.
“This was the number one priority. Obviously, we have all the older-horse races now, like the Yorkshire Oaks, and, obviously, we have to make a plan.”
He added: “She’s not in the Arc, but we can put her in, no problem. I do think she is better on top of the ground.”
Doyle has teamed up to great effect with Haggas after being inexplicably overlooked by Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor to the astonishment of all in racing.
“It’s unbelievable. I was looking forward to riding her since this was the target,” he said. “It was only her fourth race. Some that ran today had plenty of experience.
“She was the one coming in unproven. She’s shown today what she can do and it was just a joy to be part of.”
Doyle was completing a big race treble after earlier successes on the Yorkshire-trained Marie’s Diamond and Larchmont Lad.
Middleham trainer Mark Johnston’s Marie’s Diamond went one better in the Group Three Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes after finishing second on this course three weeks ago.
“The race panned out beautifully, how I kind of thought it would,” said Doyle.
“I got a nice tow into it so we didn’t have to do all the donkey work. He’s going to get further than this. Seven and a mile will be well within his compass. He’s been pretty tough and progressive this season, so he’s one to look forward to.”
Larchmont Lad beat So Beloved to give York trainer David O’Meara a one-two in the Group Two in the Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes.
“We were hopeful that both horses had a great chance coming over,” said O’Meara, who was also on target with Intisaab in the Scurry Handicap under Danny Tudhope. “He’s a very good horse. He won in Qatar this year, a very valuable race out there, and won a conditions race at Haydock so he’s borderline better than handicap company at his best.”