THERE are few places trainer William Haggas enjoys having a winner more than York and once again he will be firing plenty of bullets at the Ebor festival this week.
Haggas, who turns 58 on Thursday, has a number of leading chances, primarily the Irish Oaks winner Sea Of Class in the Yorkshire Oaks – arguably the race of the week.
We spoke to Haggas about his runners and why he is so fond of racing on the Knavesmire.
You are a big fan of York and the Ebor festival. Why is that?
I like York and I like to try and have winners there. The prize-money is a minimum of £70,000 for every race – a minimum – so everyone wants to go there and run their best horses there. It produces great races and it’s a week I really love.
What does a horse need to be successful at York?
I actually think that essentially it’s a very fair track and most horses perform there. Since they’ve had the drainage done it doesn’t get a wet as it used to so that produces fairest ground for the runners too. It can sometimes be a bit of a problem if it rains on the day of a race, but there’s not much any of us can do about that.
Sea Of Class is your big hope for the week in the Yorkshire Oaks. How are things with her?
She’s in really good shape and she’s very well. I hope she continue the improvement she’s shown this season. I’m really looking forward to her because I think she’s a filly with a lot of talent. It’s a proper race, mind. Coronet is there, Laurens is in there too and us. It’s an exciting race.
Sea Of Class has progressed all season and won the Irish Oaks last time. Do you think there is scope for further improvement still?
That’s what we all hope. She’s a late May foal and has only just got her act together recently. She’s been in a maiden and Listed races and that was a big step up to the Irish Oaks and she won quite well actually, but not very far. So we’re up to Group 1s now and why can’t she improve? I think she has got a good brain. So we hope she will – we’ll see.
Fanaar is a leading contender for the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes. How do you rate his chances?
We’ve had a lot of luck in the sales race over the years so we’re looking forward to running him and think he’s got a good chance. He was a little bit disappointing after he won at Leicester so we put him away for a bit to aim at this race, so he’s going there as well as he can be.
Seniority scored in a valuable handicap at Goodwood last time. Will he try and follow up in the Clipper Logistics Handicap on Thursday?
He’ll go for that or wait for the Strensall Stakes on Saturday. We got a bit of luck in the race at Goodwood and he finished the race well which was good to see. He’s got plenty of talent and he tries.
Muthmir is back for another crack at the Nunthorpe Stakes. Do you think he can take down Battaash?
He’s in great shape. He wants fast ground to be at his best, so we’ll be watching the weather. He’ll run his usual good race but the likes of Battaash look tough to beat.
How do you think What A Home will get on in the Ebor on Saturday?
We’ve left What A Home in the Ebor as we feel she has the best chance of the ones we had entered. She has form in Group and Listed races and looks feasibly weighted for the race.
In general, do you think the changes made to the stayers’ programme have been beneficial?
They’ve highlight the fact we’re learning far too much towards speed and we need to redress the balance before it gets out of control so it should encourage people to back stayers.
And, finally, Addeybb and Young Rascal are not running at York having been entered. What are the plans for them?
Addeybb needs soft ground and could go for the Celebration Mile at Goodwood on Saturday. He’s in good form. Young Rascal had been in the Great Voltigeur but we’ve decided to go for the Prix Niel at Longchamp on Arc Trials weekend instead.