Haggas Gets One-Two in bluesquare.com Stewards’ Cup
1st 25 Conquest 40/1
William Haggas saddled the first two home in the bluesquare.com Stewards’ Cup, when Conquest and Dane O’Neill just held off the fast-finishing King’s Apostle by a head. The last trainer to have the one-two in the £100,000 six-furlong contest was Richard Hannon, whose Knight Of Mercy and Bocas Rose were separate by a neck in 1990.
The delighted winning handler said: “My first impression was that King’s Apostle should have won actually because he just got stopped at a bad time and finished well. He’s a really tough horse and likes quicker ground than this. It’s a lottery, this race, and we just got lucky.
“Conquest has always had talent and when you’ve got talent, you’ve got half a chance but it’s been messy. I haven’t done anything different with him, he got lucky today. I don’t want to discredit the winner, but the second horse is much more consistent, much more genuine.
“While I’m thrilled to win, I’m bloody disappointed for the second and the connections of the second. If there’s one horse out of this race who’s going to win a stakes race, it’s King’s Apostle - when the trainer runs him over his correct distance (six furlongs)!
“I would think we’ll try to get some black-type with King’s Apostle. He’s the first foal of a young mare which the owner has and he needs to get some black-type for the mare. I’m going to take him out of the Phoenix Stakes but he might go to the Curragh at the end of August.
“Conquest might go to Ayr for the Gold Cup. We’ve had blinkers on, a different jockey, different ground, a different track, we’ve led with him, we’ve held him up. I don’t think you need to fight with him, just let him go and do his own thing and he’s won.
“There’s nothing we’ve done different, it was just his turn. He’s clever but he’s talented. When they are clever and they’ve got no talent, you are in trouble but when they’ve got a bit of talent you’re okay.
“In the final furlong, I was mulling through a sandwich because I want to get home and I was thinking ‘I can’t believe this!’ It was great - I was on my own watching it on telly. It was fantastic.
“Liam (Jones, rider of the runner-up) shouldn’t feel bad. That horse is a progressive horse and it’s my mistake that he ran last weekend and I think we rode him too positively - he needs to be waited with. Liam said he was hanging and hung in at the wrong time. I’m sorry for Liam and the owner, Bernard Kantor.
“It’s been our year this year, I don’t know why. We’ve had a lot of luck - a lot of luck in draws and a lot of luck in photographs.”
The winning rider added: “Today, I did say to Mr Haggas ‘Please give me some instructions on him’ because, while I wouldn’t say he’s tricky, things have to drop right for him. He said to go out and ride him as you find him, hopefully you‘ll get some cover and a lead, it worked out very well and I think that’s why you saw the result today.
“I just slotted in behind a few and shifted my run to the left - the stands’ side - because I was getting a better lead from the other horse, the ones in front of me were stopping. I just wanted to get carried a little further.
“I settled just in behind the leaders and it was ideal for him today, we didn’t have to mess him around. We got plenty of room and I was able to ride him with confidence. Today he had his day.
“It’s a nice race to win - a prestigious race. It all worked to a tee and approaching the two-furlong marker, I was quite confident. I just had a bit of anxious moment when Mr Haggas’ other horse came at me but we’ve just held him off.
“We went through the first two furlongs pretty even. Where I was drawn, I was always going to edge to the stands’ side. Probably the early pace favoured the higher drawer, then maybe the more chewed up ground took effect on them.
BORDERLESCOTT IN THE FRAME AGAIN
Borderlescott, winner of the 2006 bluesquare.com Stewards’ Cup and the short-head runner up 12 months ago, ran yet another brave race to finish third, beaten a head and half a length, in the 2008 renewal after blazing the trail on the stands’ side for much of the six-furlong contest.
Trainer Robin Bastiman said: “I am very pleased.
“That’s just how it is. He was always going to be vulnerable to a well-handicapped horse coming and beating him.
“He is only a small horse and had to carry 9st 10lb today.
“I think we will go over five furlongs with him next time and he could go in the Nunthorpe. He has run well with that huge weight today, so why not give it a try?”
MACHINIST COULD BE AYR BOUND
Back in fourth was Machinist, who fared the best of trainer David Nicholls’ five runners.
Nicholls said: “He’s been around a while and knows the crack. He ran a good race.
“I think we might look at the Ayr Gold Cup for him now.
“Of my other runners that I have seen so far, I am not sure that Buachaill Dona stayed while I think Indian Trail ran too free.”
3.50pm BLUESQUARE.COM STEWARDS' CUP HERITAGE HANDICAP
1 CONQUEST (IRE) (Highclere Thoroughbred Racing XXXVIII) W J Haggas 4-8-9 Dane O'Neill  40/1
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