Hanagan set to pick Taghrooda
William Haggas expects Paul Hanagan to chose Investec Oaks winner Taghrooda over his own Coral-Eclipse winner Mukhadram in Saturday's King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
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The Group One mid-summer highlight, sponsored by Qipco British Champions Series, had extra spice added last week when owner Hamdan Al Maktoum decided he wanted the John Gosden-trained Taghrooda, so impressive at Epsom, to take on the colts this weekend rather than run in last Saturday's Irish Oaks.
That sets up a clash with Haggas' Mukhadram, also owned by the Sheikh, but the Newmarket handler expects Hanagan, retained by Al Maktoum, to go with the younger horse.
He does not believe it should alter his running plans in any way, however.
"As far as I am concerned, he is going for the King George. I've heard no different and I have been training him for the race," Haggas told the Times.
"I'd be staggered if Paul didn't ride Taghrooda. I don't think he could possibly get off an Oaks winner, especially with her weight allowance.
"It was exactly the same situation when we went for the King George with Shaamit, after he'd won the Derby in 1996. Michael Hills got off our horse to ride Pentire. He said it was the worst decision he ever had to make but he was right - Pentire won and we were only third.
"We'd always felt he (Mukhadram) was a Group One horse and I was disappointed for him (when second in the Dubai World Cup). That's why the Eclipse was so special. I planned to come on for the King George straight away, because this is a horse that is better for racing.
"He's never run beyond ten furlongs, but he's not a keen or silly horse and he might be even better for the trip.
"Angus Gold (racing manager to Sheikh Hamdan) came to see me last week and told me that plans for Taghrooda had changed. He didn't say it altered my plans, though, and I'm hoping we will still run.
"I never like taking on another of Sheikh Hamdan's in ordinary fare but a Group One is different."
Hanagan's understudy, Dane O'Neill, is in line for the ride on Mukhadram.