Media Centre

Habaayib - Royal Ascot 19.06.09

Ears back, head down: Habaayib powered clear of Lillie Langtry to victory

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham  

Habaayib holds on to deny Lillie in Albany

Report: Royal Ascot, Friday

Albany Stakes (Fillies' Group 3) 6f

ALL eyes were on the "best" of Wesley Ward's American raiders but Aegean failed to feature as the staying-on Habaayib held off Lillie Langtry to defy odds of 16-1.

Curtains led that group as Jira ploughed an almost lone furrow in the centre and Aegean struggled to get going after a lethargic jump.

Lillie Langtry began to stay on approaching the final furlong and a half, but Hills always looked comfortable on his Ed Dunlop-trained mount and drove the winner up to join Ballydoyle's 11-8 favourite as the race neared its death.

Seamie Heffernan battled Hills all the way to the line but it Habaayib lasted the better of the star fillies and won by a length and a quarter.

Hills said: "I went and sat on her earlier in the week and I never really doubted her speed, but I thought if I could retain her speed over six furlongs, then she'd have a good turn of foot.

"The plan was to take our time and I rode her like a filly for the future but when I just started to pick them up, I got there a lot sooner than I wanted. All credit to her she kept going."

The win was the third Royal Ascot winner of the week for powerful owner Hamdan Al Maktoum and the second of the week for Dunlop, who took the Britannia Stakes with Fareer on Thursday.

"We thought they would go very fast and we toyed with the idea of running her in the Queen Mary, " said Dunlop. "But Richard was very adamant to come here and he has been proved right.

"She travels well and can quicken, and in her homework she does everything beautifully but she hits the front and then pricks her ears, so you never quite know what you've got there.

"I've never had a two-year-old winner at Royal Ascot so it's a great result."

Aidan O'brien - trainer

Aidan O'Brien: delighted

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Victor Chandler reacted with a 20-1 quote for the 1,000 Guineas. Totesport gave the winner a first show of 12-1 and pushed the runner-up out from 7-1 to 12-1, making both favourites for next term's Classic.

Aidan O'Brien said of the runner-up: "I'm delighted with her and she's run a great race. She won't mind stepping up in distance but she does have plenty of speed."

Chachamaidee trailed in a further twoand a half lengths adrift, but trainer Henry Cecil appeared in no way despondent.

"She's still a bit of a baby and very inexperienced," he said. "She will get further and will improve."

Richard Hughes suffered a heavy fall from Kurtanella in the centre of the pack which sparked a stewards' inquiry, but the placings remained unaltered and the rider walked away unhurt.

The first Royal Ascot juvenile stakes winner by Coventry Stakes hero Royal Applause, Habaayib is the second foal out of the dual winner Silver Kestrel.

As well as Habaayib, the daughter of Silver Hawk is the dam of the Mr Greeley filly Big Heart, who was the most expensive juvenile sold at public auction in Europe last year at 540,000gns.

Habaayib's second dam, Salty Perfume, won the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga as a two-year-old.





King's Theatre £1,143,037
Presenting £1,059,143
Beneficial £986,639
Oscar £896,303
Milan £863,940
Westerner £839,346
Flemensfirth £755,621
Kayf Tara £657,982
Midnight Legend £595,809
Stowaway £503,470