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Taghrooda makes late dash into history books

Trainer John Gosden described the occasion at Ascot as "something a bit special" after Taghrooda became the first three-year-old filly to claim the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in almost four decades.

The Oaks winner delivered a performance of such authority that connections of three-length runner-up Telescope and third-place Mukhadram were simply satisfied with their lot.

It had taken a late decision from owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum to pitch Taghrooda against males and older rivals and decline the safer route of the Irish Oaks, and the filly could yet be given the chance to define herself further as a rarer breed by heading on to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Taghrooda, who is now unbeaten in four starts, was a 7-2 chance against the 5-2 favourite Telescope. The weight-for-age scale meant that the latter and Eclipse winner Mukhadram were required to carry over a stone more than Taghrooda, but the pair were obviously physically stronger as well as being more experienced.

Paul Hanagan, Sheikh Hamdan's retained jockey, has usually ridden Mukhadram positively from the front, but he was happy to watch William Haggas' five-year-old from afar on Taghrooda as Dane O'Neill took himself past the pacemaker Leitir Mor.

As the race reached the home bend it appeared that Taghrooda would be made to settle for third, but she almost seemed to sense her chance to enhance her reputation and careered past Telescope inside the final furlong to match a feat achieved by just two other Classic generation fillies, Dahlia (1973) and Pawneese (1976).

"It was a special performance," said Gosden. "She's right up there and would have to be the best filly I've had over a mile and a half. The Fugue would have beaten anything over a mile and a quarter and Royal Heroine was the best at a mile.

"She'd done very well since Epsom, she's bigger and stronger, more powerful and I thought he [Hanagan] rode a beautiful race on her. Up to the furlong pole it was in doubt, but in that last furlong she showed her class.

"Sheikh Hamdan retires his fillies at three and it was a very bold decision. Going to the Irish Oaks would have been a defensive move. I think Sheikh Hamdan will place all of my horses now."

Taghrooda is a daughter of the celebrated Sea The Stars and is only 3-1 with Ladbrokes (5s with Paddy Power and Boylesports) to emulate her sire at Longchamp in October. "It would make some sense, but it's entirely up to the owner. She's still a three-year-old filly and there's a decent weight allowance," Gosden added.

There was praise for the display of Telescope too, despite being unable to catch the leader. "She's a really special filly and we've run a terrific race," said Harry Herbert, the representative of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

"It's obviously disappointing not to win, but if I said that I was standing here having finished second in the King George and it was all depressing, I'd be lying. It was a joy to watch a filly as good as that."

Mukhadram may join Taghrooda at York's Ebor festival next month. "I was as proud as punch," trainer William Haggas added.

Meanwhile, Gosden's Eagle Top, the supplemented three-year-old, was an honourable fourth ahead of Irish duo Trading Leather and Magician. Aidan O'Brien explained to the stewards Magician was unsuited by the ground.

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