Horse Racing: Hanagan eclipses all others at Sandown

Paul Hanagan.
Paul Hanagan.
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Just about the unluckiest of top-class horses finally gained his Group One reward as Mukhadram slipped away from his opponents in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas could not hide his delight at this defining moment of the five-year-old’s career, after near-misses in events such as the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Dubai World Cup and this very race 12 months ago, when he was hampered by the ultimately successful Al Kazeem.

Mukhadram often attempts to dominate from the outset, but he had Somewhat to carry out the leg-work for him and Paul Hanagan found the race unfolding perfectly as he kicked clear with more than two furlongs remaining and still retained a two-length advantage over Trading Leather by the post.

With all the pre-race build-up centering on the possibility of rain, which eventually appeared again earlier in the afternoon, it proved a little too wet for 5-2 favourite The Fugue, who salvaged sixth place having been last turning for home.

It was perhaps not wet enough, and not far enough, for Investec Derby runner-up Kingston Hill and he could not quite make up the ground to catch Somewhat in third.

Haggas wants to make 14-1 shot Mukhadram into a blue-chip stallion prospect for owner-breeder Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits, he so deserves to win a good race. He was unlucky last year, he probably wasn’t the winner, but the winner lay over him and it cost him second. He ran great in the Prince of Wales’s again (fourth behind The Fugue) and we thought he was stronger this year.

“I thought that looked pretty straightforward. He has stamina in his pedigree, he’s a resolute galloper, and I’d like to ask Sheikh Hamdan if I can run him in the King George. It’s three weeks away, and we’ll enjoy the moment first.

“We’ve always believed in him and I’m thrilled for everyone he’s gone and done it today. I have always wanted to have a go at the King George, I thought if he was going to improve a bit it would be at a mile and a half. He’s a resolute galloper and I’d love to give the King George a go.”

Hanagan said: “If there is a horse that deserves that, it’s him. He’s been second in the Dubai World Cup and could have been second in this last year, I’m just so pleased for the horse. Everyone at the yard has done a fantastic job with him, I’m chuffed to bits. I could put my children on him, he’s A1, a pleasure.”

Jim Bolger was much more pleased with the run of last year’s Irish Derby winner Trading Leather after he was beaten in a messy affair at the Newmarket Guineas meeting. The first two could now meet again at Ascot.

He said: “I’m delighted with his effort after the Newmarket debacle. The winner wasn’t stopping, but he was happy where he was. We’ll look at the King George and later on the Arc and the Irish Champion Stakes.”

The Fugue’s rider William Buick pointed firmly to ground conditions as a reason for her effort. He said: “The ground has become loose and she doesn’t like it, simple as that. It was that last shower that did it. She ran well in defeat and she’ll be back.”

Roger Varian had been pacing the course beforehand, having pulled Kingston Hill out of last week’s Irish Derby, and left it very late before giving the go-ahead. The 2000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder was another disappointment, never getting into the race and beating only Verrazano home.

Anibale Fly, ridden by Barry Geraghty (centre) on the way to winning the Coral Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown back in April 2016. PIC: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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