Tag Archive for: Rab Havlin

Lord North takes starring role in Winter Derby return

Lord North returns from almost a year off the track to headline a top-class renewal of the Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield on Saturday.

John and Thady Gosden’s six-year-old landed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in 2020 and was a hugely impressive winner of the Dubai Duty Free last year. In a race first staged in 1998 and won by Running Stag, Lord North is the highest-rated runner ever to take part.

However, he has not been seen since Meydan last March and Robert Havlin, who takes the mount with Frankie Dettori at the Saudi Cup, hopes he is fit enough to do himself justice.

Havlin said: “I’m looking forward to getting back on him, I’ve won on him four times having ridden him six times so I know him well.

“I rode him on Wednesday morning on the grass and he feels in good shape and ready to kick on.

“He’s a class act on his day. If he turns up the Lord North of old then he’s going to be pretty hard to beat, but obviously he could be a little bit rusty as he hasn’t run for a year.

“Looking at the field, Alenquer might be running over a trip on the short side for him so he needs to overcome that and we need to overcome the lay off, so hopefully it will be a good race to watch.”

The aforementioned Alenquer finished second to Mishriff in the Juddmonte International and was last seen running with credit in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. But William Haggas fears 10 furlongs and a short straight might just catch him out.

“It’s a really good race, even if our horse and Lord North weren’t there it would be bang up to scratch,” said Haggas.

Alenquer was a Royal Ascot winner in the King Edward VII Stakes
Alenquer was a Royal Ascot winner in the King Edward VII Stakes (David Davies/PA)

“I’m not sure 10 furlongs at Lingfield is going to suit ours to be honest, but he needs a blow and this will be the absolute minimum for him as he stays really well.

“I’d like to give him a race before the (Dubai) Sheema Classic so that is why we are here, but he is very well and he’s been working nicely – he’ll run a good race.

“I personally think he’s more of mile-and-a-half horse but my son (Sam), who tends to know about things like this, pointed out his best two runs last year were over a mile and a quarter.

“He was second to Mishriff in the Juddmonte, albeit a long way behind, and he beat the Derby winner Adayar and Lone Eagle and Yibir in the Sandown Classic Trial. So that gives us hope.

“I wouldn’t like to plan too far in advance, but hopefully it’s the Sheema Classic next and I think John’s horse is having a prep for the Dubai Duty Free he won last year. So I’m not sure either will be absolutely at their best, but they are two very good horses.”

Richard Hannon’s Fancy Man got the better of Alenquer as a two-year-old, is unbeaten on the all-weather at Lingfield and has race fitness on his side.

“We were very pleased with his last run and he would have needed that. We decided not to go to Qatar and stay here for this race,” said Hannon.

“It looks like it will be a hot race, but I suppose it should be.

“He has been very consistent and he appears to like it around there on that surface.

“The trip is fine and hopefully they will go a bit quicker than they did in his last race.

“I don’t know what the plans are for the rest of the year. Obviously we will have to qualify if we want to go to the Easter Classic and then there is a Group Three at Newbury. We will do it race by race more than anything.”

In any other year the Archie Watson-trained Al Zaraqaan would be among the favourites, but he has ground to make on on Fancy Man from their last meeting.

“He’s in good form and has come out of his last race well,” said Cosmo Charlton of owners Hambleton Racing.

“He ran well in the Winter Derby Trial. I just felt the race didn’t pan out that well for him as he had to make his own running, which we didn’t think would happen, and he got caught on the inside rail turning in when clearly you wanted to be down the middle of the track that day – where the winner was.

“We’ll see what happens, but I think Finals Day at Newcastle will be on the agenda.”

Megallan makes most of Sovereign opportunity

Megallan consigned a disappointing run in the French Derby to the history books with a battling victory in the D & N Construction Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.

John and Thady Gosden’s colt ran an excellent race to fill the runner-up spot behind Hurricane Lane in the Dante Stakes at York in May.

But while the Charlie Appleby-trained winner went on to finish third in the Derby at Epsom before winning the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris, Megallan trailed home well beaten in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.

Having been given plenty of time to get over his exertions across the Channel, the son of Kingman was the 7-4 favourite as he dropped in distance and class for the feature event of the year at the Wiltshire track.

Ridden by Robert Havlin, Megallan travelled strongly for much of the Group Three contest and dug deep when pressed in the final furlong to see off the admirable Sir Busker by a length.

Perotto and Solid Stone were not far behind in third and fourth respectively.

Thady Gosden said of the winner: “We’re delighted. He obviously did well, dropping to a mile at Salisbury, and enjoyed the ground.

Thady Gosden was pleased with the victory of Megallan
Thady Gosden was pleased with the victory of Megallan (Julian Finney/PA)

“He ran a great race in the Dante. He looked like the winner at one stage and was obviously beaten by a very good horse.

“We took him to the French Derby and with all the changes after Brexit, it’s a bit more of a journey over and it’s much tougher on them, so he didn’t necessarily run his race there.

“It’s great to see him back to himself today and winning a Sovereign Stakes.

“He showed he has the speed for a mile, but he also stays a mile and a quarter, so we’ll see where we go from here.”

Megallan on top in Burradon Stakes

John and Thady Gosden’s impressive start to their new arrangement was given another boost by the victory of Megallan in the Listed Burradon Stakes at Newcastle.

Highly tried after winning on his debut last season, Megallan ended his campaign in the Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

He got bogged down in the heavy ground on that occasion, but was better judged on his fourth to One Ruler in the Autumn Stakes – and the Gosdens are clearly keen to crack on with him this year.

Out early for the Spring Cup over an inadequate seven furlongs at Lingfield where he was a fast-finishing second, he was back over a straight mile on the Tapeta this time.

His presence scared plenty of the potential opposition away – with only three taking him on, but they included Roger Varian’s lightly-raced Legion Of Honour.

The pair had it between themselves for the last two furlongs – and while Andrea Atzeni briefly looked to be going better on Legion Of Honour, Megallan’s depth of experience told close home.

Robert Havlin always looked as if he held the upper hand, and in the final 100 yards Megallan (4-6 favourite) began to pull away to win by half-a-length.

Havlin said: “He ran over seven (furlongs) at Lingfield – which we knew was going to be a bit sharp for him, but it sharpened him up mentally.

“That showed today, and I think you have to give him a lot of credit.

“Last year he was a bit too keen in heavy ground at Doncaster in the Futurity Trophy, but I think he’s grown up a lot. I ride him a bit myself at home, and he’s come on a lot.

“I think he’s better than this (class). It was a good old ding-dong battle with the second, but he was going away at the line.

“I wouldn’t rule him out going over a mile-and-a-quarter later in the season, because his mind is much better now – he used to be really racy.

“He might end up in something like the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket over a mile-and-one (furlong) – that could be an option.”

Paddy Power cut the winner to 20-1 from 33-1 for the 2000 Guineas, while the runner-up is now 25-1 from 50-1.

Havlin reflects on Enable career following superstar’s retirement

Robert Havlin, who steered Enable to the first of her 15 career victories, admits the superstar mare will leave “a big hole” in John Gosden’s yard following her retirement on Monday.

The six-year-old will go down as one of the greats following a glittering career, during which she claimed 11 Group One events, including back-to-back victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and a record three wins in the King George at Ascot.

While Frankie Dettori was on board for all of the big days, Enable’s journey began with an impressive display under Havlin in a Newcastle maiden almost four years ago.

Reflecting on that opening success, the jockey said: “When I won on her she was still a shell of a horse, but obviously had class.

“After Newcastle she was put away for the winter and started to fill her frame. Coming into the spring, she was starting to get noticed. Her work was always pointing to her being a good mile-and-a-half filly, but as time went on, she kept getting stronger and improving.

“The other thing that always stood out about Enable is she’s always been a very intelligent filly – she certainly worked out how to use her gears and win very early in her life.

“She knows what’s going on around her and is very inquisitive.”

Enable will go down as one of the great mares
Enable will go down as one of the great mares (Julian Herbert/PA)

While Havlin never partnered Enable again competitively following that debut victory, he rode her in plenty of work in Newmarket, something which he always felt was a huge privilege.

He added: “She’ll leave a big hole in the yard now she has gone. She had a presence about the place and it won’t feel the same without her.

“We were here for the golden years and they will be golden memories to look back on.

“She had that presence on the Heath and everybody stopped and looked at her. You felt important when you were riding her, so that was good.

“I’ve not sat on her much this year as I’ve been riding Stradivarius most of the time, but in the previous years I sat on her quite a lot at home.

“There were always people waiting to take pictures as she walked past and you would hear them asking ‘is that Enable?’. She was famous in her own right and a bit of Hollywood-type superstar in Newmarket.”

Enable has a date in the breeding shed with former Gosden ace Kingman next spring and Havlin believes it could be match made in heaven.

He said: “You couldn’t have picked a better sire for her to partner in Kingman. He was a horse I used to ride a lot at home as well – hopefully they will produce some nice babies and we get to sit on them.”