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‘He’s a superstar’ – Yard favourite Hamish makes winning return for Haggas

3 minute read

William Haggas’ stable favourite Hamish kicked off his 2024 campaign in the perfect style by landing the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at Newbury.

HAMISH (black cap) winning the Surprise Stakes at Newbury in England.
HAMISH (black cap) winning the Surprise Stakes at Newbury in England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The loveable eight-year-old was unbeaten in four outings last season and ensured he'd stretch the winning sequence to five when battling on gamely to make a successful reappearance.

Held up towards the rear under a confident-looking Tom Marquand, last year's four-time Group 1 winner made smooth headway between rivals and the pair found themselves in front with a furlong to travel. Both Salt Bay (33/1) and the rallying Al Qareem threw down a stern challenge in the closing stages but the William Haggas-trained 5/2 market leader clung on gamely to score by a neck.

The 11/2 chance Al Qareem got the better of Salt Bay for third, with last year's St Leger Stakes runner-up Arrest finishing a well-beaten seventh having raced wide in the early stages.

"He's a superstar," said Tom Marquand on ITV Racing. Maureen (Haggas) rides him out virtually every day, he's a proper yard favourite and it's always even more satisfying when you get the job done on a horse like this.

"We were worried about the ground drying out but as long as there's no sting in it we're alright. He's obviously seen to better effect on softer ground hence winning by a neck when you felt it should probably have been two lengths but I got there a bit soon as well.

"He knows more about racing than I do and tells you when he's had enough but it's a case of job well done."

Winning trainer William Haggas, who was landing the prize for the second time having saddled Harris Tweed to victory in 2012, said: "I'm delighted and he doesn't really do a lot in front, the ground wasn't really soft enough, he had a 3lb penalty, but he keeps winning and that's terrific.

"That's five-in-a-row and at Group 3 level and now we have to go up in grade and see if he can cope with that. It will be the Ormonde (at Chester) or the Yorkshire Cup, but he does need soft ground.

"It does not rain at York anymore so that could be a problem, whereas Chester it always rains, so I suppose it will be the Ormonde. He won that last year but he will have a penalty, so we will see."

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