Haskoy grabs Al Rayyan glory in thrilling finish
Frankie Dettori was at his brilliant best as he steered Haskoy to a last-gasp victory in a thrilling renewal of the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.
Ralph Beckett’s filly made huge progress during her debut season last term, with an introductory win at Wolverhampton in late July followed by a Listed success in the Galtres Stakes at York in August.
She subsequently stepped up to take on the boys in the following month’s St Leger at Doncaster and passed the post in second behind Eldar Eldarov before being demoted to fourth place by the stewards after causing interference.
With a subsequent appeal unsuccessful, Haskoy was making her first appearance since in Berkshire and was a 5-2 shot to strike Group Three gold.
Dettori was at work in the saddle some way from home, but the daughter of Golden Horn responded to his urgings to keep herself in the fight and got up in the dying strides to beat John and Thady Gosden’s Israr and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bolshoi Ballet by a short head and a head respectively.
Yibir, the 9-4 favourite on his first outing since winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket last summer, made late gains from the rear to finish fourth.
Beckett said: “She wasn’t stopping at the end of the St Leger. I sort of feel with her pedigree, it is a stamina-laden pedigree, so I would be pretty confident she’d get it. She switched off very well today, considering how fresh she was.
“We will see how we go. I tried to put a tongue strap on her before but she wouldn’t have it – we had to take it off.
“I’m really pleased. The St Leger was frustrating and it was great to get a Group race next to her name.
“It was only her fourth start and she was still a little green today. With a bit of luck, there’ll be more to come.
“She has got quite a round action. Every time she has surprised me. I didn’t think she could win the Galtres, certainly not at three (furlongs) down. I wouldn’t be afraid to try fast ground.”
Haskoy was cut to 10-1 from 16s by Paddy Power for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and Beckett indicated the filly could now take her chance in next month’s two-and-a-half-mile highlight.
He added: “She is a top-class stayer with a turn of foot. She was just backing off them a little bit when she was in behind horses, but that is slightly her way. She’ll come forward for today – she was only just ready for it.
“The Ascot Gold Cup is a big ask for all of them – it is more like a war than a horse race. It is tough for all of them. Some never come back from it. It is a massive ask, but we are more inclined to do it now she has won a Group race.”