Sea Theme bidding for Haggas hat-trick in race named after Lester Piggott

Sea Theme has been tasked with providing William Haggas with a third straight victory in the Betfred Nifty 50 Lester Piggott Fillies’ Stakes when she makes her seasonal return at Haydock on Saturday.

A progressive performer at three, the daughter of Sea The Stars scooped Listed honours in the Galtres Stakes before finishing her campaign with a below-par showing at Newmarket.

She now reappears in a race her Sommerville Lodge handler has won three times since 2019 and one named after his late father-in-law.

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“It has been a lucky race for us and she is very well and has been working well, but it’s quite a competitive race,” said Haggas.

“I think she has a bit to find and I don’t know whether she has improved enough to win, but we will see.

“It’s a Group Three fillies’ race and we have a lot of them, so we always like to run something in it.”

Haggas is willing to ignore Sea Theme’s one disappointing showing in her career in the Princess Royal Stakes on home Newmarket soil, feeling her battling win at York before that took more than anticipated out of the talented filly.

A statue stands at Haydock, where Lester Piggott rode his first winner
A statue stands at Haydock, where Lester Piggott rode his first winner (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“We thought she was over the top at Newmarket,” continued Haggas.

“She had a hard race in the Galtres and it was just one race too many. I would put a line through it.”

That is a view Philip Robinson, racing manager for Sea Theme’s owner Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum, concurs with.

He said: “She was a really progressive filly last year and she battled really hard when she won at York.

Sea Theme (left) in action at York
Sea Theme (left) in action at York (Mike Egerton/PA)

“That took a bit more out of her than I think we realised and she went to Newmarket and she didn’t seem to have got over York at all.

“William put her away after that and has given her plenty of time and she seems to be bouncing now, so hopefully she will run well.”

Night Sparkle won three on the spin for Michael O’Callaghan in Ireland and came close to opening her account for Andrew Balding when narrowly denied in York’s Bronte Cup on seasonal bow.

She is sure to be among the main protagonists here, as could be John and Thady Gosden’s lightly-raced Queen Of The Pride who caught the eye when stepping up to Listed company in her Goodwood return.

The daughter of Roaring Lion bumped into the useful, and more experienced, Gather Ye Rosebuds on that occasion and is backed by connections to have plenty more progression up her sleeve.

“I know she is in good form and the Gosden team are very happy with her,” said David Redvers, racing manager for owners Qatar Racing.

“She’s out of our St Leger winner (Simple Verse) and by Roaring Lion so we’re hopeful she will continue to improve as she gets a bit of distance.

“It was a lovely seasonal debut at Goodwood and we hope we can see some further improvement.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Appleby’s Sapphire Seas is another trying a mile and a half for the first time, with the Frankel filly – who won four of her first five starts – looking to get back on track having seen her momentum checked recently.

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Appleby told “Sapphire Seas has definitely come forward since York and we feel that stepping up to a mile and a half is going to suit. She heads to Haydock in excellent shape.”

Ralph Beckett’s Lady Boba signed off last season with Listed success in France, while on her penultimate start she finished second to Charlie Johnston’s Madame Ambassador in a typically competitive backend Newmarket handicap.

Madame Ambassador has run three times since then and heads to Haydock in peak condition having found the scoresheet in the Listed Rothesay Stakes at Ayr 17 days ago.

Madame Ambassador heads to Haydock on the back of a win at Ayr
Madame Ambassador heads to Haydock on the back of a win at Ayr (Simon Marper/PA)

“This was sort of a natural progression after winning a Listed race to step up to Group Three company,” said Johnston.

“I’m fairly confident about the trip and she has won over a mile and a half a couple of times in the past, but her Listed win was over a mile and a quarter and her best form has probably been at a mile and a quarter.

“I thought this was worth a shot and if we can be in the shake up here it opens up possibilities like the Lancashire Oaks.

“Last year there was only five runners and this year there is 14, so it is obviously a bit more competitive, but there doesn’t look to be any standout horses in it and we’re going there off the back of a win and in-form which is more than what could be said for most of them.”

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