User:Selectracing/William haggas

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William Haggas

William John Haggas (born 23rd August 1960) is a British racehorse trainer based in Newmarket. In 2011, he trained the winners of 76 races and over £1,200,000 in prize-money in the UK. Since taking out a training licence in November 1986, Haggas has trained seven Group 1 winners, including the Epsom Derby (1996) and the Oaks (2011). Haggas is married to Maureen (nee Piggott), daughter of former multiple Champion Jockey Lester Piggott.

Childhood and Early Career

Born in Skipton, North Yorkshire in 1967, William Haggas was educated at Harrow school, London. He was an excellent cricketer, with the late Yorkshire and England fast bowler Fred Trueman thinking highly enough of the young Haggas to suggest he could open the batting for both county and country. [1] The son of prominent racehorse owners (his mother Christine Feather owned the 1982 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Silver Buck, trained by the legendary Michael Dickinson), Haggas initially looked set to follow his father, textiles entrepreneur Brian Haggas, into business, having been told by his father upon leaving school that, unless he had a job by 31st August of that year, he would start work in the factory the following day. However, just three months into his job and on his first day off, he drove from Yorkshire to Newmarket to ask the trainer Jeremy Hindley for a job. In an interview with the Independent in 2008, Haggas recalled “On my first day off, I begged Jeremy Hindley, who trained a horse for my father, to give me a job. I said I'd muck out, mow the lawn, clean his car, anything rather than go back to the mill. And I'm still here.” [2] Haggas “loved the horses…loved betting” and was “a form anorak” [3], and after a year with Jeremy Hindley he moved to Heath House, the stables of Sir Mark Prescott. Two years there were followed by four years assisting John Winter before Haggas decided to start up on his own from Somerville House stables in November 1986.

Starting out

William Haggas took out his training licence in November 1986. His first winner was Tricky Note, who won at Newmarket’s prestigious Craven meeting on April 15th 1987. Haggas later commented “I was lucky because my first winner came at a high-profile meeting.” [4] The winners steadily grew year on year, with winning totals of 12, 14, 20 and 25 between 1988 and 1991, during which time Haggas recorded his first Pattern race victory courtesy of Bog Trotter, owned by his father Brian, in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September 1990. Bog Trotter nearly provided Haggas with a first Group 1 success the following month, finishing second behind the following year’s Epsom Derby winner Generous. However, the next four years passed without a significant change either in terms of numbers of horses in training or in terms of winners, and it wasn’t until 1996 that William Haggas really came into the limelight, with high-profile successes and his highest number of winners since starting training a decade earlier.


Bred by his owner Khalifa Dasmal, Shaamit had won on his second start at two and did not feature among the original entries for the Epsom Derby of 1996. His trainer had not even intended on entering the horse for the race at the April entry stage, but after an exercise gallop under his father-in-law, the legendary eleven-time Champion jockey Lester Piggott (who had retired for the second and final time the year before), he was advised by Piggott to enter the horse. [5] Sent off at 12-1, the 6th favourite in a field of 20, Shaamit won by over a length in the hands of Michael Hills, becoming only the third horse in a century to win the Epsom Derby on his first start of the season, a victory that Haggas rates as his best moment in the sport; “I had only 40 horses then and it was a tremendous feat for a small stable, but at that stage I had no real idea just how difficult it was.” [6] Later that month, Haggas was to record the biggest handicap win of his career when Yeast took the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile at Royal Ascot on 19th June 1996. Already a winner over 7f at Ascot in the Victoria Cup the preceding month, Yeast gave Haggas his first ever win at the Royal Meeting. By the end of 1996, Haggas had trained the winners of 27 races and over £850,000 in prize-money, finishing in the top ten of the National Trainers’ Championship for the first time.


The year after Shaamit’s Derby triumph was a difficult one for Haggas, who trained just 12 winners and accumulated only £103,000 in prize-money. He later recalled “I had just 12 winners and all the new best friends we'd made disappeared.” [7] However, better was to follow in 1998 (24 winners), 1999 (46 winners) and in 2000 (45 winners).

Superstar Leo

Bred by Haggas’ father-in-law Lester Piggott, Superstar Leo passed through the ring as a yearling for just 3,400gns. A winner on her second and third starts in minor contests at Catterick, she provided Haggas with the second Royal Ascot winner of his career when taking the Norfolk Stakes in June 2000. Sold to American owners (Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stable) after the race [8], Superstar Leo went on to win the valuable Weatherby Super Sprint at Newbury, the first of two winners in two days (the other being Capricho at Newmarket the following day) that Haggas described at the time as "professionally, the best five minutes of my life since Shaamit won the Derby".[9] Superstar Leo also went on to win the Group 2 Flying Childers at Doncaster that year.


Good horses began to come Haggas’ way after the 2000 season, with the likes of Dupont (2002 Italian and German 2,000 Guineas), Majestic Missile (2003 Group 3 Molecomb Stakes) and Chorist (2004 Group 1 Irish Pretty Polly Stakes) all boosting his reputation further. In 2004, ’05, ’06 and ’07 he recorded 46, 53, 59 and 66 winners respectively, each time breaking his previous best as a trainer. [10]


In 2008, Haggas enjoyed his most prolific season both in terms of numbers of winners trained and prize-money. A high-profile victory for King’s Apostle (Group 2 Diadem Stakes, Ascot), a double at Royal Ascot with Aqlaam (Group 3 Jersey Stakes, Royal Ascot) and Collection (Listed Hampton Court Stakes), a big handicap win for Conquest (Stewards’ Cup Handicap, Goodwood) and more two year old success with Enticing (Group 3 Molecomb Stakes) and Jargelle (Weatherbys Super Sprint, Newbury – Haggas’ second win in the race after Spuerstar Leo in 2000). After the Stewards Cup victory of Conquest, in which stablemate King’s Apostle finished second, Haggas mused “It’s been our year this year, I don’t know why. We’ve had a lot of luck - a lot of luck in draws and a lot of luck in photographs.” [11] For the first time in his career, Haggas topped £1,000,000 in prize-money, a feat he was to achieve again in both 2009 and 2010, during which time he trained a further two Group 1 winners at Longchamp in France; King’s Apostle in the Prix Maurice du Gheest in August 2009 and Aqlaam in the Prix du Moulin the following month.


Havin started the year


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