William Haggas (pictured above) landed his first Irish Classic as his exciting talent Sea Of Class got up close home in a thrilling finish to beat Investec Oaks winner Forever Together in the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday.
The 11/4 shot was given a peach of a ride by James Doyle, who brought the daughter of the great Sea The Stars from last to first place down the long Curragh home straight without ever resorting to the whip, picking off rivals one by one, then quickening to go after Forever Together (7/2) who had seen off her stable companion and 10/11 favourite Magic Wand (fifth).
The Ballydoyle filly was nabbed though in the dying strides as Doyle drove his willing mount – who had only raced previously in listed company – into the lead in the shadow of the post to score by a neck, with outsider Mary Tudor (25/1) keeping on bravely to hold third place a further length-and-half away.
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“I had full confidence in her,” beamed Doyle. “It was a great shout not to go for the Oaks, because it probably did come a little bit soon. She’s quite a late foal, so she’s done very well. Let’s hope there’s improvement again. It was only her fourth race. 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.”
“I told James to be brave but I didn’t think he’d be that brave,” admitted Haggas. “We were expecting a big run as she’s a very good filly. There is a good chance she will stay in training next season and plans are fluid. We’ll look at maybe the Yorkshire Oaks or the Prix Vermeille.”
Most observers were impressed with the way Sea Of Class beat good opposition, and with three-year-old fillies having a good record in the race and getting all the weight allowances there was post-race media speculation about Haggas’ charge being a potential contender for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October. Bookmakers have halved her odds from 40/1 to a top priced 20/1 with William Hill for the great European middle-distance event.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.