St Leger live on Sky Sports Racing: William Haggas hopes Desert Hero can end Royals’ long wait for Classic win | Racing news

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Despite the Royals’ long history of success on the racetrack, you have to go back to 1977 as the last time they celebrated a Classic winner, however that wait could come to an end on Saturday.

That’s the task for trainer William Haggas and jockey Tom Marquand in the Betfred St Leger at Doncaster, live on Sky Sports Racing, with the reigning Royal Ascot champion Desert Champion.

The Sea The Stars colt, who won the King George V Stakes at Ascot and the Goodwood’s Gordon Stakes on his way to Town Moor, will attempt to emulate the mighty Dunfermline and carry the famous purple, red and gold silks to victory.

Talking to Sky Sports Racing Hejaz said on Tuesday: “He is in good condition. He worked this morning and was going well.

“He was impressive at Goodwood with a cut in the ground and won on top of the ground at Royal Ascot, so I don’t think it bothers him too much.

“Obviously the softer it is, the more emphasis there is on stamina and he might not be a strong finisher over a mile and six furlongs but we’ll see. I think he will do that.

“I liked him at Goodwood – he showed a bit of pace, which you need.

“Ascot was just a handicap and they were going too fast which suited the late horses, but he made no mistake and this was only his second run of the year.

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Jockey Tom Marquand sat down with Sky Sports Racing’s Matt Chapman to explain how winning the second St Leger at Doncaster aboard Desert Hero for The King and Queen would be a ‘magical’ moment.

“This will be his fourth outing, so I think he’s a very new horse and has been doing well physically since Goodwood.”

Reflecting on the desert hero’s royal connections, Hijaz added: “It’s wonderful that they have taken on the mantle of the king’s late mother and are enjoying it with so much enthusiasm.

“It’s great that they have a horse that is so useful and I know they enjoy it immensely.

“Everyone who participates in horse racing wants to win a classic race, whether they breed, own, train, ride or care for horses. Classic racing is everyone’s dream and dream. [The King and Queen] “They are no different.”

Desert Hero looks set to take on a small but select field, with John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien bringing in the main opposition, including Gregory, a potential horse for the departing Frankie Dettori.

Continous and Desert Hero could meet in the St Leger at Doncaster on September 16, live on Sky Sports Racing
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Continous and Desert Hero could meet in the St Leger at Doncaster on September 16, live on Sky Sports Racing

“It looks like a really high quality renovation. John [Gosden] He has the strongest hand with Gregory, Middle-earth, Arest’s Horse, and Aidan [Continuous] He was very influential in the great Voltigeur.

“I suppose Gregory and Continus are in the lead, but the chess piece is very strong and we are very strong as well. It’s a good renewal and a fun race.”

While much of the media attention will be on Dettori’s bid for ultimate Classic success, Hagas has his own star in Tom Marquand, who recently celebrated his 1,000th British victory.

“Tom is getting a lot of opportunities in the big races now which is good because there is no doubt they put a little extra pressure on any jockey,” Hijaz said.

“He is a world-class rider and has proven that in Australia and Japan. Anywhere he goes, he performs well. We are very lucky to have him.”

Marquand poses with the St Leger Trophy in Doncaster
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Marquand poses with the St Leger Trophy in Doncaster after victory over Galileo Crome in 2020

If the Desert Hero pull off a win on Saturday, international targets could be next on the agenda, with the Melbourne Cup potentially on the cards.

Hejaz said: “It is on our minds, but a lot will depend on what happens on Saturday.”

Hard to Resist holds royal hopes in May Hill

Haggas sends a strong team to Doncaster for the entire St Leger Festival, which kicks off on Thursday, all live Sky Sports Racing.

Royal Silk can also be carried to victory in the May Hill Stakes with an exciting two-year-old filly Hard to resist.

“She ran well at Goodwood, staying behind Darnation, who ran again and unfortunately had a good draw like us,” Hijaz said. “Hopefully we can do a little better, but Darnation is the one to beat.

“After each of her last two rides, the jockey said she would be better on better ground, so if the ground dries out a bit that will suit her.”

William Haggas
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William Haggas sends a strong side to Doncaster this week

Later on the card, Hagas has two chances of success in the Group Two Park Hill Stakes.

Light crack She raced in France this year – she won a Listed race and was placed in Group Two and Group Three – so she’ll probably have another good race.

“It’s my first time going a mile and six furlongs and Mr. Oppenheimer and I are not sure about it [owner] Not so but we have come to the conclusion that we have little to lose by trying and we have a lot to gain.

“Tom [Marquand] He was plump to Golden Lyrawho was useful last year at the end of the season on soft ground and should enjoy the progress of the trip.

“She ran a much better race in France last time – her best effort in a year – and stayed all the way to the finish, so I think she will have a good race, especially with the rain coming down.”

Watch every race of the Betfred St Leger Festival at Doncaster live on Sky Sports Racing from Thursday 14 September.

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