William Haggas spoiled a sibling party when King's Apostle triumphed over the Head family's runners in Deauville's Prix Maurice de Gheest yesterday, but the trainer hinted he was setting up a close-quarters clash of his own. Freddie Head, with Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Naaqoos, and his sister Criquette Head-Maarek, with 2008 runner-up, African Rose, dominated the headlines prior to the off in the six-and-a-half-furlong Group One. On the day, however, neither lived up to their hype, suffering from a poor draw and finishing 10th and 11th respectively.
It was a good day out for the winning rider, champion jockey Ryan Moore, whose golden touch did not desert him in France aboard Bernard Kantor's King's Apostle. The five-year-old had seemed to flatter to deceive in previous outings, coming 10th from a bad draw in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and then fifth in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket after being held up, but his trainer never doubted his Group One credentials.
"Last time out in the July Cup he got knocked sideways and while he might not have won, he probably would have been placed," said Haggas. "He's been knocking on the door in the Group Ones and I think it was thoroughly deserved." That victory means Haggas is likely to set King's Apostle up in a clash with another stable star - the Wokingham Stakes and Shadwell Stakes victor, High Standing, in the Group One Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 5.
"That's where we'll go," said the trainer. "I'll have to sit back and talk to the owner because we've got some options in Hong Kong and the Breeders' Cup [at Kentucky] and he [Apostle] doesn't really like soft ground so we've got to be careful." email@example.com