Trainer William Haggas will be hoping Sea Of Class can land a blow for the 3-year-olds when she takes on her elders in the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York next Thursday (August 23)
Sea Of Class lived up to her name with a Darley Irish Oaks success last month, completing a hat-trick. Now she has been primed for the £350,000 British Champions Series contest, in which 11 fillies and mares stood their ground at today’s latest entry stage.
The only factor that may prevent her from running on the Knavesmire would be substantial rainfall.
Yorkshire-born but Newmarket-based Haggas said: “Sea Of Class is very well. She moved beautifully on Thursday morning in her final bit of work, so I don’t really want to run her on soft ground. But if the ground is good or better then I look forward to it.
“As I said after the Irish Oaks, we’ve got nothing to lose now – we’ll just enjoy her, though obviously we want to win everything we run in. I’m pleased with her condition.”
Asked if his comparatively lightly-raced charge is still open to further forward steps, Haggas replied: “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.”
One of the most intriguing elements of the Darley Yorkshire Oaks is that it sees the 3-year-old middle-distance fillies taking on their elders at championship level.
Assessing the race, Haggas added: “I’ve been rather sceptical about this year’s 3-year-olds – I’ve not been too sure. I’m slowly being proved wrong of course, but that’s normal. So I hope that the fillies in the Yorkshire Oaks will be better than the 4-year-olds. Coronet is a very useful filly but there will be others.”
Twenty four hours earlier, Haggas could also be represented in the two biggest races of the opening afternoon.
He has Addeybb – not seen since contesting the Lockinge Stakes in May – in the £1million Juddmonte International Stakes, and Chester Vase winner Young Rascal in the G2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur.
Haggas said: “Addeybb needs very soft ground to have a chance and, I think, soft ground to run.
“We’ve put Young Rascal in the Voltigeur – that has always been the plan. His most recent work was at Chelmsford and he didn’t impress me as much as I was expecting. But I’ve always been very keen to run him in the Voltigeur and probably still will, but I’d just like to see him over the next few days to decide. If not he’ll wait for the Prix Niel.”
Haggas has other horses pencilled in for the four days of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival – including Muthmir in another British Champions Series contest, the G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe.
Champion trainer on the Knavesmire in 2017, he said: “I love going there, I love competing there and I like to win there. So I am looking forward to it very much. It also clashes with my birthday every year – this year is no exception.”
Haggas will be 58 on Thursday. A victory for Sea Of Class in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks would be the perfect way for him to mark the occasion.
The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs for four days: from Wednesday to Saturday (August 22-25).