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Many happy returns for Haggas as Sea Of Class is new Arc favourite

Sea Of Class: flew home to land the Yorkshire Oaks
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What better birthday present could there be for a Yorkshireman than victory in a Group 1 race at his county's biggest meeting?

And not just a victory, but a commanding performance and a most authoritative display of class.

That's Sea Of Class, who made sure that William Haggas had much more to celebrate than the mere fact of turning 58.

The late-developing filly, who did not make her debut until April, is growing up fast and looked a three-year-old out of the very top drawer as she added to last month's success in the Irish Oaks with a decisive win in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

Sea Of Class: destroyed her rivals under James Doyle
There was an awful lot to like about the way she quickened clear under James Doyle to score by two and a quarter lengths under James Doyle – enough to make her the new favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in many lists, quoted at just 4-1 by Ladbrokes.

The sidelined Enable took the same race en route to Longchamp success last year and the chances are that Sea Of Class will be in Paris on the first Sunday in October.

"She's not in the Arc yet and I stress it's a yet," Haggas said. "Mrs Tsui will have to pay the supplementary fee if she chooses to do that but I'm pretty sure she'll be keen. She tells me that her son [Christopher] has been to the Arc twice before – when Urban Sea won and when Sea The Stars won.

"A lot will depend on whether she stays in training at four. The plan was always to keep her in training as she's still young but if she wins everything this year it might be different.

James Doyle admires Sea Of Class following a Yorkshire Oaks success that further cemented his association with William Haggas
"You always hope they're going to do something like that, but she really impressed me. I don't know what happened to the others, I was only watching her and James was coming a little bit early but when he said go she picked up."

Doyle was just as impressed and said: "She's getting better. I thought that was very good today, she relaxed beautifully, her manners down at the gate were much better and I think it's all coming together nicely."

Runner-up Coronet had also chased home Enable 12 months ago and John Gosden, who trains both fillies, said: "I think the winner's a lovely, gorgeous filly, I think the Arc is shaping up. We're very happy with our two, Cracksman and Enable, so let's hope we all go and make a race of it.

"Coronet is a solid filly, she ran her race, just ran into one that was too good. She'll freshen up and go to the Fillies & Mares race at Ascot."

That race could also be the target for third-placed Eziyra, whose effort delighted Dermot Weld.

The trainer said: "It was an excellent race and had the best fillies in Europe racing in it. It was a lovely ride from William Buick as he settled her nicely and I thought for a moment we were going to win a furlong and a half down."

French Oaks winner Laurens, having her first run in Britain since finishing second in the 1,000 Guineas, could manage only sixth under PJ McDonald on her first crack at a mile and a half. 

"She didn’t look as though she stayed," said trainer Karl Burke. "Two and a half furlongs down PJ said he wouldn’t have wanted to be riding anything else but she didn’t pick up."

The trainer could now pitch Laurens in against all-conquering Alpha Centauri at Leopardstown next month.

"There are no Group 1 trials for the Prix de l’Opera and she’s in the Matron so we’re seriously considering dropping her back to a mile and taking on Jessica Harrington’s filly," he said. "She’s not slow and she loves to be out there using her stride to its full potential."

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You always hope they're going to do something like that but she really was impressive today
E.W. Terms
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