There are not many racehorse trainers who have hit headlines across the racing world more regularly or widely over the past 12 months than William Haggas.
Coming off the back of his most successful year yet in terms of both number of winners and prize money in 2021, the Newmarket handler continued to attract widespread adulation in
On home turf, Baaeed continued his ascent to world’s best turf racehorse status via the United Kingdom’s most prestigious Group One contests, while stablemates Alenquer and Sea La Rosa landed valuable Irish Group One and French Group Two successes, respectively.
Since the turn of this year, Haggas has wasted no time between British flat seasons, instead turning his attention, once again, to Australia.
Haggas has scooped a trio of coveted autumn prizes in Sydney since early March, firstly a Group Three with Protagonist, and then a pair of elite-level successes with Dubai Honour in the Ranvet Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
And it is Dubai Honour who, this week, is keeping the trainer’s name in lights overseas as he takes on a high-class field in the Group One QE II Cup (2,000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday as a stop-off on his return journey to the UK.
On Thursday morning, Hong Kong’s racing press were out in force to capture photos of the British raider on the turf at Sha Tin under travelling groom and regular work rider, Issy Paul.
“Thank goodness he’s not camera shy,” Paul quipped upon returning from trackwork aboard the 2021 Hong Kong Cup fourth placegetter. “He doesn’t seem to miss a beat when he flies, which is a massive benefit for an internationally travelling racehorse.
“His weight is good, he seems to be in really good form, so fingers crossed we see another performance like we saw in Australia.”
Paul, who graduated from the prestigious Godolphin Flying Start programme in 2020, is, unsurprisingly, relishing the opportunity to travel the world on Haggas’ behalf and learn on the job from one of the masters of the global training ranks.
“I joined the Haggas team straight off the Flying Start and it’s just been a bit of a whirlwind since then,” she explained to Great British Racing International. “I’ve been lucky enough to do two Australian trips, and now obviously in Hong Kong with Dubai Honour, which is an absolute pleasure.
“William and Maureen are just fantastic to work for. If you work hard for them, they’ll give you plenty of opportunities. I’ve had some phenomenal experiences since I’ve been with them.
“They want their horses to do well and therefore, they want you to do well. They’re incredibly
supportive and definitely help you grow into the role.
“They’re very trusting as well and they don’t micromanage. I thought it’d be really tough, but they trust your judgment on the horses. I think that’s a huge part of travelling horses – being able to trust your own judgment. I’ve absolutely loved travelling for them.”
Reflecting on the results that the team at Haggas’ Somerville Lodge Stables have celebrated in recent months, and the reasons behind the success, Paul continued: “They’re by far and away the best at what they do. They’re the hardest working people I know.
“I definitely put the international success, as well as the success with Baaeed, down to their incredible hard work and the boss being very good at placing horses.
“Sending the likes of Dubai Honour and Addeybb down to Australia is a masterstroke. They’re older geldings who love that one-on-one attention. That makes them perfect for those middle-distance races in Australia, which are historically a little bit weaker.
“But they’re two stable stars in their own right and they’re very good horses at home as well. I think the calibre of bloodstock we have is another thing that really sets us apart from other yards.
“It’s phenomenal to work with such amazing bloodstock and I think that’s also reflected in the results.”
If Paul can ensure that nothing goes amiss before Sunday and help Haggas produce Dubai Honour in sparkling form once again, the gelding must stand a huge chance of adding another top-flight success to his blossoming CV.
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