When Australia produced an impressive performance to win the Epsom Derby in June, it was heralded as the best horse ever to be trained by Irishman Aidan O’Brien and probably the leading three year old of the 2014 flat season. At the same meeting, Taghrooda won the Oaks in an equally stylish display but the filly may not have earned the recognition she deserved that day. In winning the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, Taghrooda has proved that she may be equally as good if not better than the much vaunted Irish colt Australia.
This was a first race against the older generation for the unbeaten Taghrooda and she was opposed on the day by Telescope from the Michael Stoute yard who had won the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, over course and distance, and Mukhadram, the winner of the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. O’Brien saddled Magician who is considered to be more effective racing at a mile and a quarter but who won at this 1m 4f distance at the Breeders Cup.
Telescope began the race as favourite, but as the field turned for home after a decent early pace, Taghrooda appeared to be travelling as well as any horse and her relentless gallop up the finishing straight proved sufficient to overhaul the favourite and Mukhadram. Her three length winning margin was similar to that in her Oaks victory and another triumph in this race for her trainer John Gosden who saddled Nathaniel to win the contest in 2011.
Telescope may have been inconvenienced by the easier ground following overnight rain but there was no doubting the superiority of the lightly raced Taghrooda on the day and more prizes may await this talented horse.
Taghrooda becomes the first filly to win the Oaks and King George double in the same season since Pawneese achieved the distinction in 1976 and ends a recent series during which previous winners of the fillies’ classic have failed to build upon their triumph at Epsom.
After triumphing at Ascot, Taghrooda has been quoted as low as 3-1 for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in October and she may be rested until that Paris day.
As for the other horses in the King George, note should be taken of fourth placed horse Eagle Top, also trained by John Gosden. Without having the pace to challenge the leading trio as they entered the final two furlongs, the Royal Ascot King Edward VII Stakes winner was gaining rapidly at the finish which suggests that the St Leger at Doncaster in September will be within range as will the Great Voltigeur at the York Ebor meeting.
For Taghrooda, the one hope for racegoers is that she will meet Australia at some stage this season in a race which should ultimately decide the best of the British and Irish middle distance three year olds.