• Racing/
  • Taghrooda Lands Oaks Victory

Investec Oaks (In Memory Of Sir Henry Cecil) (Fillies' Group 1) 1m 4f 10y

  • (3yo, 1m 4f 10y, Class 1, 17 runners)
  • Winner £297,728 2nd £112,875 3rd £56,490 4th £28,140 5th £14,122 6th £7,087
  • Going: Good
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 2m 34.89s
  • Off time: 16:05:37
  • Last Updated: June 6 2014, 18:17 BST

Taghrooda stretched her unbeaten record to three with an impressive victory in the Investec Oaks (in memory of Sir Henry Cecil) at Epsom Downs to lead home a one-two for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Taghrooda routed the field in the Investec Oaks
Taghrooda routed the field in the Investec Oaks

As well as being a first Classic triumph for Paul Hanagan on his first ride in the Oaks, and a first in the fillies' showpiece for trainer John Gosden, it was also a maiden Group One winner as a sire for the brilliant 2009 Derby winner Sea The Stars.

An impressive winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes on her seasonal reappearance, Taghrooda was always well placed in a steadily run affair.

Richard Hughes had taken Volume to the front and was able to dictate matters with the field stacked up behind him but Hanagan had a perfect pitch in a share of around fourth.

Hanagan appeared to get a bump from Marsh Daisy rounding Tattenham Corner which momentarily seemed to unsettle Taghrooda but she was soon back on the bit and the response was instantaneous when Hanagan asked her to go and win the race.

Volume tried to make a race for it but was soon found wanting but she did put her head down and battle gamely for the minors with Dermot Weld's Tarfasha just denying her second. The winning distances were three and three quarters of a length and a nose.

Outsider Inchila was right on their heels in fourth place despite meeting with inteference, just ahead of Godolphin's Ihtimal in fifth.

Hanagan said: "It feels great, it's what I've worked hard for. I'm delighted for the team really, Sheikh Hamdan, Angus Gold, Richard (Hills), it's a big team effort and John Gosden's yard have done a fabulous job.

"We had really bad news recently with the death of John Hills, who was a big part of the team, and I'd just like to say this one is for him."

Richard Hills, former long-standing retained rider to Sheikh Hamdan and now part of the backroom staff, said: "This is what we work for with the boss. The filly had been working so well and had done everything right, for the Hills family it is a big lift for us.

"It's great for Paul and Sheikh Hamdan, this is what we do it for, why we get up at 5am to sit on these horses - this is what we come here for."

He added of his brother, who died on Sunday at the age of 53: "John will be watching, he said to me last week, 'Rich, good luck' and there's no doubt he was there with us."

Gosden said: "Two years ago we should have won it with The Fugue, but she got almost knocked over, so it has always been a race owing to the stable - to that extent it was a great relief.

"He rode her quite beautifully, it was a very smooth ride and he was always in a great position as Richard Hughes was in front playing with the pace a bit. He was able to go and assert and show her class and stamina.

While she was officially recorded as an easy three-and-three-quarter-length winner, Gosden was best-placed to explain how impressive Hanagan had been in the saddle.

"He was very clever, we had the position we wanted but at the latter part of the bend at Tattenham Corner, she got a bump and it threw her on her off-fore and he was very quick to get back on the near-fore. Full marks to Paul.

"It's great to win any Classic, it's great for the owner to win with a home-bred, beating the one he bought, that's the right way round. You don't want the ones you buy beating the ones you bred as that goes against the hard work of the people on the stud.

"She's won it well and it was a good, solid Oaks with depth to it. I always thought she was a nice filly and the extra two furlongs would be up her street."

Sheikh Hamdan said: "The Guineas and the Oaks are the races that I really want to win as an owner.

"She was the most beautiful yearling, last year I kept asking John when she was going to see the course and he just kept saying wait. When she won, she only won by a head which to me is not enough but this year she is more mature."

Sky Bet cut the winner to 14/1 from 50s for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October.

Spokesman Michael Shinners saying: “There looked to be plenty of depth in the Oaks beforehand and she’s run out a very impressive winner. 

"The way she travelled and quickened up off what looked a fair pace, it’s not hard to see her making an impact against the colts later in the year. Paul Hanagan rode her with the upmost confidence and it’s great to see him win a first British Classic.”

Weld's son, Mark, said of the runner-up: "You always want to win, but we're very, very happy with her and there's lots to look forward to. Thanks to Sheikh Hamdan for letting us both run, and the winner won very well.

"It's up to the owner, I'd guess the Irish Oaks just across the road (at the Curragh) is the logical next step and maybe the two of them can do battle again. I think that was a very good Oaks, a vintage one."

Third across the line was Luca Cumani's Volume, and the Italian said: "At least we know she belongs here now. She's a big, long-striding filly who has won from the front before and we knew she stayed. I think it'll be the Irish Oaks now and maybe the Curragh will suit her better."

Joseph O'Brien blamed the race coming too soon after Marvellous' win in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

The rider said: "I was flat out at the top of the hill. With six or seven to go I was struggling. She'd have had a hard enough race in the Irish Guineas, on testing enough ground at the Curragh. We'll freshen her up now."

Taghrooda looks like heading to the Curragh for the Darley-sponsored Irish equivalent on July 19, with Gosden saying: "She's in the Irish Oaks, that's the logical place to go. It's a good, honest galloping track, we'll go there and then after that, take a look."

Possibly unlucky in fourth was Peter Chapple-Hyam's Inchila and she may also be seen in Ireland next.

"The plan was to lead, but she fell out of the stalls and got behind," said Chapple-Hyam. "The winner won very well, maybe we should have been second, but that's life. It's tough to go to Ascot (Ribblesdale) from here, I suppose she'll go to the Curragh."