The numbers were against her, but history was made on Ascot’s historic turf this afternoon as the John Gosden trained Taghrooda stormed to an impressive and decisive win in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Quickening up impressively on the outside of Telescope (2nd) and Mukhadram (3rd), she pulled away from them in the last half furlong to rip up recent trends and gallop her way into the folklore of the midsummer middle distance championship race.
Taghrooda’s victory was only the eighth by a female horse in 64 runnings of the King George; it was only the third by a three-year-old filly; and it was only the second time that a reigning Oaks winner had followed up Epsom success by winning the King George and beating both her male contemporaries and older horses too. Her race record now stands at an unblemished four wins in four starts.
As retained rider to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, jockey Paul Hanagan had the choice between Taghrooda and Mukhadram, on whom he had won the Coral-Eclipse Stakes three weeks earlier. His faith in the filly, who last month provided him with a first Classic success in the Oaks, was repaid with interest and Gosden was quick to praise both horse and jockey in the winner’s enclosure.
“It was a brilliant and patient ride by Paul as they went off in front at a strong pace,” Gosden said.
“The showers that we’ve had here in the last couple of days made the ground a little bit testing and it was a superb performance [by Taghrooda]. She has really developed since Epsom and is exceptionally strong for a filly – she has a neck on her that is very much like a colt’s.
“Her and Paul were in a great position to kick for home off the bend but it was lovely to see her go past and then outclass them. As an improving three-year-old filly with a decent weight allowance it would make sense for her to go for the Arc but I will leave that up to Sheikh Hamdan.”
With her owner seemingly committed to his policy of retiring his fillies after their three-year-old campaigns, it’s highly likely that today will be the only time we will see Taghrooda at Ascot. But what a day it has been. One that will be remembered and talked about for generations.