Mohaafeth continued his rapid progression up the ranks when winning a dramatic running of the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.
William Haggas’ charge was among the favourites for the Cazoo Derby earlier this month, but heavy rain on the Friday turned the ground softer than the trainer felt his charge wanted.
Having agonised over the decision to run, Haggas took him out just over an hour before the race and immediately nominated this contest as his alternative target – and from the point of view of connections the late switch was justified.
It turned into a messy contest, however, with Matchless, Movin Time and Snapraeterea all racing keenly in the early stages and Jim Crowley content to let them get on with it on Mohaafeth (11-8 favourite).
Haggas would have been delighted the forecast heavy rain overnight failed to materialise and Crowley moved his mount wide to challenge in the straight.
Unfortunately Mohaafeth then began to hang right handed towards the rail – while also quickening clear with Roman Empire – and although going clear of his only rival, the Frankel colt ended up drifting to his right and Ryan Moore had to stop riding briefly on Roman Empire.
The stewards inevitably had a look, leading to a tense wait for connections of Mohaafeth before he was confirmed the winner by a length and three-quarters.
Haggas was delighted with the result, but was not getting too carried away.
He said: “He’s only up to Group Three from Listed, but he’s a pretty good horse.
“I think it probably didn’t go his way today. Jim was concerned about the horse of Roger Varian’s (Movin Time) who was up the front and he was quite far behind and he said, by his own admission, he’d gone a bit early, but the horse kept going, that’s the main thing.
“He did run across the track a bit, but he’s probably used up a lot of petrol getting there.”
Mohaafeth was immediately halved in price to 8-1 by Coral for next month’s Eclipse, but Haggas was in no rush to map out plans.
“I think if he’s going to go one way, he’ll go shorter not longer. I was always concerned about the trip in the Derby, but there is only one of them and then when it rained it became, for me, an easier decision not to run him. That’s history now, let’s move on.
“He’s won a Listed and a Group Three, he’s not tackled an older horse yet so he’s got a lot to prove, but I think he’s got some talent.
“I think he’s pretty good. I don’t make comparisons with others, but he’s a useful horse. He’s always been a nice horse and he’s bred to be a good horse. I thought he looked great today and he doesn’t look a stayer physically.
“He’s in the Eclipse, he’s in lots of things and will continue to be in lots of things and we’ll see where we go. That’s obviously the first target, if there is one, but it can’t be good to soft, soft or anything like that – he’s a quick ground horse.”