William Haggas


William Haggas Trainer

William Haggas, born in Skipton on August 23, 1960, has been one of racing’s top trainers for the last 30 years, with multiple Group 1 winners punctuating a career which started back in 1987.

The son-in-law of legendary jockey Lester Piggott had started life in his father’s textile factory but soon left that job, moving to Newmarket to follow the dream of becoming a racehorse trainer.

Haggas learnt from the likes of John Winter and Sir Mark Prescott before taking out his own licence and has been a stunning success story since his first winner back in April 1987.

His first Epsom Derby winner (see below) came when he had just 40 horses in his stable, a remarkable achievement in a time period dominated by the likes of Henry Cecil and Sir Michael Stoute.

He boasts a brilliant strike rate over the last five years of 23% and since 2013, Haggas has been on the list of Royal trainers. He gave the Queen a first winner out of his yard a year later, with Purple Spectrum winning a Windsor maiden.

Stables used by William Haggas

William Haggas is based at Somerville Lodge in Newmarket, having been there since 1987. The yard has over 100 boxes and like most modern stables, boasts an equine swimming pool as a well as a treadmill for fitness and recovery. The gallops which are in use at Newmarket include the Golden Mile, the Round Gallop on the Limekilns and the Racecourse Side gallop.

James Doyle rides for William Haggas, having partnered the likes of Sea Of Class in every run of her life. However, Doyle is retained by Godolphin and will usually ride for them if they have a runner in the race. Likewise, Jim Crowley will take rides for Haggas but he is retained by Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum.

Earlier in his career, Haggas had regularly used the likes of Michael Hills and the late Pat Eddery.

William Haggas’ Top horses

Haggas can lay claim to three Classic winners, with the first of those coming back in 1996 when Shaamit took the Epsom Derby having won just a maiden on his previous start.

He would have to wait 17 years for his next victory in a Classic, when Dancing Rain made all in the 2011 Oaks despite being a relative outsider at 20/1. She would go on to confirm that three-year-old form by claiming the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes as well as the Preis der Diana in Dusseldorf.

In 2018, Haggas claimed a third Classic, this time on the other side of the Irish Sea. Despite being beaten in a maiden, Sea Of Class stepped up in class to win a Listed race next time out, before flying home at the Curragh to collar Epsom Oaks winner Forever Together and land the Irish Oaks. She would have more Group 1 glory when winning the Yorkshire Oaks and ran a brilliant race in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, narrowly failing to run down the superstar Enable in what was a finish for the ages.

Haggas has also had plenty of two-year-old success in his training career, having won the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy for the first time in 2016 with Rivet - who was owned by a partnership which included Lester Piggott - while Rosdhu Queen took the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes for Clipper Logistics.

Some of his other Group 1 victories include Urban Fox (Pretty Polly Stakes), Count Dubois (Gran Criterium), King's Apostle (Prix Maurice de Gheest), Aqlaam (Prix du Moulin), Mukhadaram (Eclipse Stakes) and Chorist (Pretty Polly Stakes).

William Haggas Horses to watch

Sea Of Faith (3yo): The half-sister to Irish Oaks winner and Arc second Sea Of Class, William Haggas will be hoping that Sea Of Faith can follow the same trajectory as her sibling, owned by Sunderland Holdings. She was given an educational ride on debut at Sandown and while a Listed race on second start proved too hot, she duly bolted up in a Doncaster maiden in June and will now surely have loftier ambitions. With an Irish Oaks entry, do not be shocked if this Sea The Stars filly lands Group 1 success at some point during the second half of the season.

Maqsad (3yo): This Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned horse will surely land a victory at the highest level in 2019. Having won a Newmarket maiden in April, she won as she pleased at the same track in a Listed race in May over 10 furlongs. Stamina was a doubt in the Oaks at Epsom and that proved to be the case as she failed to see out the extended trip despite cruising into contention. Assuming she drops back in trip for her next run, Maqsad can definitely develop into one of the best three-year-old fillies of the season.

Frankellina (3yo): Frankellina is yet another middle-distance filly for William Haggas to follow towards the tail end of the season. Running in the famous Oppenheimer colours of Golden Horn and Cracksman, she made a winning racecourse debut at Yarmouth before finishing a very unlucky second to Nausha in the Musidora Stakes, having fallen out of the stalls and running keen throughout. She looked to stay the trip when finishing sixth in the Epsom Oaks, and with entries in the Irish equivalent as well as the Pretty Polly Stakes, expect her to develop into a Pattern performer.

Skardu (3yo): This son of Sharmadal made a real impression on his first two starts. Having won as he pleased on racecourse debut at Newmarket, Skardu backed that up on seasonal appearance with a devastating late surge to claim the Craven Stakes at the same track. He had been the subject of a significant gamble throughout the day. He finished a good third behind Magna Grecia in the 2000 Guineas and was fourth in the Irish equivalent three weeks later. Given that he was the first of his group home at Newmarket, he can be given another chance as the season progresses.

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