Godolphin trainer needs ground to hold firm for Epsom Derby

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Holding firm: Saeed bin Suroor (c) talks things over with two of his Godolphin jockeys.

Despite the ground quickening up throughout yesterday under beautiful sunshine, the possibility of heavy showers today means likely ground conditions remain up in the air, with Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor hoping that the rain holds off.

Saeed bin Suroor, whose True Story is mounted by Kieren Fallon and third in the Dante behind subsequent French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby, said: “The Dante form is good. Since York he has worked twice with Kieren and worked really well.

“I’m really happy with him, but the key is we don’t want it too soft. The horse is well, physically we are happy now, he’s improved a lot and I think a mile and a half will be really good for him. Good ground or good to soft will be perfect.

Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien sends a four-strong team into battle for the Investec Derby at Epsom today with some even tipping him to saddle the first three home in the premier Classic.

Red-hot favourite Australia, Ryan Moore’s mount Geoffrey Chaucer and Chester Vase winner Orchestra all hold solid claims and it would not be a complete surprise were those three to dominate.

O’Brien has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds Australia, hailing him as his best ever Flat horse.

“Australia is uncomplicated, relaxed and has speed – exactly what you want in a racehorse,” he said. “He’s very natural and takes no training. He has a great mind and settles very well.”

Of his other runners O’Brien said: “I was very happy with the way Orchestra won at Chester. If anyone had seen him there, they’d have seen that he had a bit of a tummy on him, and he’ll come on for that. Kingfisher won well at Chester and is very straightforward horse.

“Nothing went right for Geoffrey Chaucer in the Derrinstown at Leopardstown as it was a very messy race with a slow pace.”

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Hanagan victory hands Sheikh Hamdan Epsom Oaks one-two

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True blue: Paul Hanagan leads the way on Taghrooda.

Paul Hanagan received rich praise from those associated with Taghrooda as he showed the assurance to match the athleticism of the filly beneath him to secure a first Classic winner in the Investec Oaks.

Epsom is a treacherous course and the modest dual champion jockey overcame one sticky moment before sweeping right away and leading home Tarfasha.

The win secured a one-two for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has retained Hanagan to ride in his familiar blue and white colours for the last two seasons. 

Taghrooda was proving why market confidence has no guaranteed bearing on success, as she had been available at less than half her starting price of 5-1 after landing the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket a month ago, but the form had not worked out well. 

As well as being 33-year-old Hanagan’s Oaks debut, it was a first victory in the race for trainer John Gosden, who will have taken pleasure in avenging the unlucky 2012 defeat of The Fugue.

Taghrooda, who is still unbeaten, also represents a maiden Classic and Group One win for her burgeoning sire, the exceptional 2009 Derby winner Sea The Stars.

While she was officially recorded as an easy three-and-three-quarter-length winner, Gosden was best-placed to explain how impressive Hanagan had been in the saddle.

“We had the position we wanted but at the latter part of the bend at Tattenham Corner, she got a bump and it threw her on her off-fore and he was very quick to get back on the near-fore. Full marks to Paul.”

Hanagan said: “It went like clockwork really. You kind of plan for the race to go like that, I’d been planning it for the last month I think. She did get a bit of a bump and she changed legs, it took a while to get her organised again, but I was always happy from then.

“I’m just more delighted to give something back to Sheikh Hamdan and all the team. They’ve put a lot of faith in me, and John’s team have done a marvellous job. I just pointed her today.”

But Gosden added: “Paul’s being very modest, he’s a good team man and a pleasure to work with.

“We had wanted to get two trials in, but it went soft at Sandown and the trials go bang, bang, bang, so we came here for a look last week at Breakfast with the Stars.

“She was pretty chilled and seen it all before.

“It’s great to win any Classic, it’s great for the owner to win with a home-bred, beating the one he bought, that’s the right way round.

“She’s in the Irish Oaks, that’s the logical place to go. It’s a good, honest galloping track, we’ll go there and then take a look.

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Marche Endurance enters third year as Italy and UAE promote trade relations

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Along for the ride: The majority of Arab royal families partake in the sport.

The third edition of the Marche Endurance Lifestyle 2014 event will take place in Italy's Eastern Coast at the Riviera del Conero and across other locations in Marche, from the 13th to the 15th of June 2014.

The event promotes Made in Italy excellence through territorial marketing initiatives aimed at fostering the development of economic and industrial trade between Italian companies and those from the UAE.

The event is fostered by Regione Marche and the UAE Ministry of the Economy.

Endurance is a sport recognized by the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation and originates from the United States.

Initially in the USA, postal workers were forced to ride for hours on any terrain and in any weather condition, entrusting the task to the one animal that could offer such a service: the Arabian horse.

To date, Endurance is the second most practised equestrian sport in the World and is enjoyed by most Arab royal families.

The competition will take place at 3 courses of different lengths.

The longest track measures 160km, the second 120km and the third 90km.

The winner of last year’s Marche Endurance Lifestyle was HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE since 2006.

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