Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Hanagan hailed for Taghrooda victory

Wave of emotion: Paul Hanagan salutes the crowd after victory on Taghrooda in the Investec Oaks at Epsom yesterday

Paul Hanagan received rich praise from those associated with Taghrooda as he showed the assurance to match the athleticism of the filly beneath him to secure a first Classic winner in the Investec Oaks.

Epsom is a treacherous course to navigate and the modest dual champion jockey overcame one sticky moment before sweeping right away and leading home Tarfasha in a one-two for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who has retained Hanagan to ride in his familiar blue and white colours for the last two seasons.

Taghrooda was proving why market confidence has no guaranteed bearing on success, as she had been available at less than half her starting price of 5-1 after landing the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket a month ago, but the form had not worked out well.

As well as being 33-year-old Hanagan's Oaks debut, it was a first victory in the race for trainer John Gosden, who will have taken pleasure in avenging the unlucky 2012 defeat of The Fugue.

Taghrooda, who is still unbeaten, also represents a maiden Classic and Group One win for her burgeoning sire, the exceptional 2009 Derby winner Sea The Stars.

While she was officially recorded as an easy three-and-three-quarter-length winner, Gosden was best-placed to explain how impressive Hanagan had been in the saddle.

"He was very clever, we had the position we wanted but at the latter part of the bend at Tattenham Corner, she got a bump and it threw her on her off-fore and he was very quick to get back on the near-fore. Full marks to Paul."

Hanagan said: "It went like clockwork really. You kind of plan for the race to go like that, I'd been planning it for the last month I think. She did get a bit of a bump and she changed legs, it took a while to get her organised again, but I was always happy from then.

"I'm just more delighted to give something back to Sheikh Hamdan and all the team. They've put a lot of faith in me, and John's team have done a marvellous job. I just pointed her today."

A big fish when with Richard Fahey in the smaller pond of the northern circuit, Hanagan admitted it had not been easy to adapt to life in Newmarket in such a high-profile role.

"I'd ridden one Group winner before I got the job, that's why I keep saying it's nice to give something back," he said.

"I'd not had a lot of rides in Classics, but you have to start somewhere. That was my first ride in the Oaks and it means everything.

Gosden went on: "It's great to win any Classic, it's great for the owner to win with a home-bred, beating the one he bought, that's the right way round.

"She's in the Irish Oaks (at the Curragh), that's the logical place to go. It's a good, honest galloping track, we'll go there and then take a look."

The owner himself said: "The Guineas and the Oaks are the races that I really want to win as an owner.

"She was the most beautiful yearling, last year I kept asking John when she was going to see the course and he just kept saying wait.

"When she won, she only won by a head which to me is not enough but this year she is more mature. I was satisfied with (Hanagan) from the beginning. He used to wait, so we told him to change his way of riding a bit and be a little bit aggressive from the beginning. He rode a marvellous race today."

The 4-1 favourite was Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Marvellous, who was never really a threat in sixth.

Volume and Richard Hughes dictated the pace and Luca Cumani's filly was only a nose off finishing runner-up.

Dermot Weld's Irish raider Tarfasha had been the subject of plenty of support and the trainer's son, Mark, said: "You always want to win, but we're very, very happy with her.

"It's up to the owner, I'd guess the Irish Oaks just across the road is the logical next step and maybe the two of them can do battle again."

It appears the gutsy Volume will be there too, and Cumani said: "She's a big, long-striding filly who has won from the front before and we knew she stayed.

"I think it'll be the Irish Oaks now."

Inchila missed the break and could not lead as planned, but finished fourth ahead of Ihtimal.

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