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Haggas Setting Skardu For Golden Eagle Raid

By Ray Hickson

Respected UK trainer William Haggas is keen to test the waters in Sydney with Group 1 placed colt Skardu being set for the inaugural $7.5m The Golden Eagle (1500m).

Haggas already has two horses penciled in to tackle The Championships in the autumn and said on Sky Sports Radio he believes Skardu is among the top echelon of colts in the UK so is keen to chase the huge prizemoney on offer in the spring as well.

“It’s a brand new race and it’s a terribly exciting race,’’ Haggas said.

“Fair play, these sorts of things should be supported I believe and we’ll do everything we can to get him right and get him over there.

“He’s a useful horse, a talented horse and how good the crop of three-year-olds are nobody knows yet until we assess them at the back end of the season.

“I think they are a pretty useful crop and he’s not far off the top.’’

The Northern Hemisphere three-year-old will enter quarantine on October 2 if Haggas is pleased with his performance in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes (1600m) at Newmarket next Friday.

Skardu has raced six times and won his first two starts, including the Group 3 Craven Stakes (1600m) before tackling a trio of Group 1 events over the mile.

He was a beaten favourite off a 66 day break in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood on August 24, when ridden by Tom Marquand, and is a $26 chance in TAB’s Golden Eagle market.

“The horse is a smart horse, he won a classic trial in the spring (Craven Stakes) and then ran third in the 2000 Guineas, fourth in the Irish 2000 Guineas, fourth in the St James’s Palace which are three big Group 1 races for three-year-old colts in the spring,’’ Haggas said.

“Circus Maximus (who won the St James’s Palace) just won a top three-year-old and upwards Group 1 in France so I think they are holding their own against the older horses.

“(Skardu) was a little disappointing in the Group 2 race, I was disappointed but he wasn’t beaten far. Tom was a bit miffed with the way he ran at Goodwood.’’

Circus Maximus is also among the Golden Eagle entries, which included more than a dozen international nominations, and is $11 in all-in betting.

Haggas, who has trained for the Queen, said he’s running Skardu at Newmarket next week to ensure all is in order and to get confirmation the colt will be assured of a start in the Golden Eagle.

If that happens he’ll be due to arrive in Sydney around October 19 so there won’t be enough time for a lead up run with the Golden Eagle run at Rosehill on November 2.

And he’s satisfied that the horse will be comfortable in whatever conditions present on race day.

“Should every thing go well (next Friday) and we’re happy with him he’ll be on the plane to Sydney,’’ Haggas said.

“He’s shown a lot of his decent form on fast ground. I think he will cope with slowish ground.

“When you are bringing a horse to your part of the world from here the fact he can cope with different types of ground helps.’’

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Young Rascal and Addeybb who are the duo Haggas plans to bring to Sydney next March.

Young Rascal, who has been gelded since his last preparation, will target the Tancred Stakes (2400m) and Sydney Cup (3200m) while Addeybb is eyeing the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).

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