Prayers not quite enough as Sea Of Class charge falls just short
"Drop her out the back and pray". That was the advice Lester Piggott gave after Sea Of Class was burdened with a draw in stall 15 for the Arc. It almost paid off.
Riding a filly who needs to be delivered late, James Doyle took a pull on his mount leaving the stalls and crossed over to the rail, which meant he was last turning for home.
From there the William Haggas-trained filly passed all but Enable as she charged down the straight – and the winner would have been snared in another couple of strides.
"We had a bad draw but she's got a unique run style and, if you change that, you risk losing the ability she's got," Doyle said. "So we had to ride her to her run style.
"Unfortunately I got caught behind Kew Gardens, who just struggled for tactical speed at a key point of the race, which meant the race got away from me a bit.
"She's a tremendous filly and I'm sure with a better draw we wouldn't have had to sit as far back as we did and the result might have been different. But for Enable to do that on her second start of the year is pretty spectacular, so full credit to her."
Haggas' wife Maureen was full of praise for Doyle, not only for his ride but for paring his frame down to 8st 9lb to make the weight.
She said: "From where he was drawn, he had little alternative. When we got the draw I rang my father [Piggott] and said what do we do?He said, 'Don't change the tactics, drop her out the back and pray'.
"She's run a brilliant race and we're absolutely thrilled with her, but we're just sad for James, who has made such an effort to get the weight off."
Repeat bid in 2019
William Haggas said he hoped Sea Of Class would return to Longchamp next year in an attempt to go one better and continue the remarkable connection owners the Tsui family have with the Arc.
He said: "I think many people will look back on it and say the draw didn't help us, but I don't want to be ungrateful or unsporting. John's filly is marvellous and she's won the Arc, not us.
"Not many win two Arcs. Let's hope we can put it right next year and that John retires Enable!"
Asked whether Sea Of Class would stay in training, Haggas added: "I haven't discussed it with Mrs Tsui but I very much hope so, and I expect so actually."
Compensation for Haggas
There was some compensation to come for the stable with One Master's win in the Prix de la Foret, but it was still hard for Haggas to not think of what might have been.
"I was proud of my filly, I thought she ran a fantastic race," he said. "Christopher Tsui said to me, 'It’s the most disappointed I’ve been to win €1 million'."
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