Yorkshire Jockeys Horse Racing

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The Skipton-born, William Haggas will be targeting a home win when crack two-year-old filly Relief Rally lines up in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes, next Thursday, at York Racecourse.

As a proud Yorkshireman, he always loved going racing around his home county and beyond.

Haggas, who is 63 on Wednesday, said: “Every race meeting was important to me when I was young – my favourite was Wetherby on Boxing Day. When I could, I’d go everywhere.”

He has gone on to carve out a superb training career in Newmarket at Somerville Lodge, almost 200 miles from the medieval castle of his hometown. But there has always been a strong desire to record winners back in Yorkshire, not least at the Sky Bet Ebor Festival – “such a prestigious meeting,” in Haggas’ mind.

Next week he will, once, again bring a large team, although his pre-Festival assessment is, “We’re not as strongly represented in the good races as I’d like to be.”

That said, he’d surely not be in a hurry to swap star two-year-old Relief Rally for any other in the richest race in the country for juvenile fillies, the £250,000 Sky Bet Lowther.

The daughter of Kodiac was purchased for 58,000 guineas at Tattersalls sales last September and has already handsomely recouped the initial outlay.

She was beaten by a mere nose in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot before following up with a convincing victory in the Weatherbys Super Sprint Stakes. That three-length win at Newbury took her career earnings past the £160,000 mark – and counting.

Now Relief Rally is set to be asked to step up in distance to six furlongs for the first time in the £250,000 Group 2 on the Knavesmire.

Haggas said: “She’ll run a good race. She’s a lovely filly, very fast, very able, goes on any ground. She should get the trip – I think she’ll enjoy the trip.”

Thursday looks set to be a busy day for the Somerville Lodge team. He plans to also run Sea Silk Road in the feature contest, the Group 1 Pertemps Network Yorkshire Oaks. As well as the intriguing pair Sea Theme and Market Value – the latter, owned by His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen – in the Listed British EBF and Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes.

Saturday’s card is likely to see Haggas represented in the Group 2 Sky Bet City of York Stakes by Sacred – “it will be a good race, she wants fast ground”.

While he pinpoints a couple of stable handicappers to keep a close eye on. He said: “I like Unequal Love in the seven-furlong handicap (the British EBF 40th Anniversary Fillies’ Stakes) on Thursday and I like Gaassee in the last on Saturday (the Sky Bet Finale Stakes).”

Another potentially interesting runner for the powerful yard is Loose Cannon in the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes, a Group 3 over seven furlongs on the opening day of the meeting. The colt won over course and distance on his debut at the end of July.

Haggas is hoping to come up trumps at least a couple of times during the week at a racecourse and festival that he holds in high esteem.

He said: “Every person connected with horse racing wants to be there. The prize money is fantastic. They are a shining example to every racecourse in the country of what can be done.

“I know they get good crowds – and that goes back to what I say about everyone wanting to be there – but the prize money is outstanding. They now have a minimum of £100,000 a race (at the Ebor Festival). Crikey, most meetings in this country aren’t £100 000 for the card.”