By Jon Lees
Australia: With coronavirus shutting down horse racing in Britain, William Haggas is thanking his lucky stars he sent Addeybb and Young Rascal to Australia, where the Champion Stakes runner-up is favourite for the Ranvet Stakes (3.25am GMT), one of five G1s on the showpiece Golden Slipper card at Rosehill Gardens.
Haggas teams up with British rider Tom Marquand for the six-year-old and stablemate Young Rascal, who starts his Sydney campaign in G3 N E Manion Cup (2.10m GMT). Marquand also has a plum ride on Prague in the Longines Golden Slipper (5.30am GMT), the world’s richest two-year-old race.
Saturday’s races, which will shown live in Britain on Sky Sports Racing, have been chosen as stepping stones to even richer G1 targets with Addeybb due to return to Rosehill for the A$4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Young Rascal the A$2m Sydney Cup on April 11.
Addeybb faces last year’s winner Godolphin-owned Avilius in the 1m2f Ranvet, while former Haggas-trained stablemate Raheen House is among Young Rascal’s opponents in his G3 assignment.
“It was a good idea anyway to send these horses to Australia because there is a lot of money involved, but we have challenges as well,” Haggas said. “These two races are prep races for bigger targets and there is no certainty that they will take place.
“Both races are competitive, but of more concern to me is the ground because having been heavy on Monday they have now had three sunny days and are due two more. It’s going to dry up but hopefully it will be on the soft side.
“The horses are not fully tuned to win. They are very well, and they are trying to win, but the idea is that these races bring them on because, when you travel them a long way, your main priority is their health.
“Training them can only start when they start to thrive. They are thriving but they haven’t been in hard training for two months; you can’t just turn them on and off like taps. We will see what happens but it is nice to be part of it.”
Addeybb and Young Rascal will be the Haggas stable’s only runners at least until the end of April with racing in Britain having been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic ten days before the start of the Flat Turf season.
The trainer added: “I am not going to have any other runners for six weeks minimum. The relatively fit horses will have to slow down but all the ones that were behind are being trained normally.
“The way the Government is going at the moment I don’t think any of us believes we are going to start racing at the end of April.”
As well as the A$3.5m Golden Slipper, the Rosehill card features the latest appearance on New Zealand star Te Akau Shark in the A$1m George Ryder Stakes (4.05am GMT), a race won by the great Winx for the last four years.