Having been born not too far from York race track, Saturday’s John Smith’s Cup meeting was of particular significance to William Haggas.
The Skipton native fielded no less than eight horses over the last two days of competition, winning just one race on Friday but faring far better 24 hours later.
Haggas’ first winner of the weekend came in the John Smith’s Silver Cup when Sun Central recovered from a poor start to rally against the opposition.
The four-year-old colt has now won four of his last nine outings, recovering well from a disappointing run at Royal Ascot in September.
However, Danchai’s victory in the John Smith’s Cup may have been the more valuable of the two wins, giving Haggas good reason to feel upbeat about his weekend.
It’s the second time that the Suffolk trainer has taken home the £150,000 winnings in the last three years. Both occasions have come in collaboration with owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar.
Things began to run in the favour of jockey Andrea Atzeni as he came into the York straight, eventually striding out from the pack after catching a break on the inside rail.
The four-year-old colt, Stencive, also trained by Haggas, was trailing in second, giving the Yorkshire man yet more cause for joy.
Quoted by the Racing Post, Haggas was evidently over the moon with his second John Smith’s triumph, stating after the race:
Every trainer wants to win the John Smith's Cup whether you are from Yorkshire, Ireland, England or Wales. Before today we hadn't had much luck with photographs and poor draws but this makes up for everything.
It's great to win it for the same owners as my previous winner Green Destiny though I feel sorry for Stencive and his connections as he stayed on all the way to the line and the draw made life difficult for him. This happened to me in the Stewards Cup (2008) when an outsider (King's Apostle) beat my favourite (Conquest).
All in all, the trip to York was a highly successful one for Haggas and his stable, raking in almost £200,000 from Saturday’s winning pair.