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On a recent visit to London, England, I picked up copies of the Racing Post near our hotel daily — a rare treat. I’m a committed online reader but to actually hold a copy of the RP in my hands and dissolve into it over coffee each morning was rapturous. On Saturday, September 27, 2014 the usually studious RP was overcome with emotion about the exploits of a 2 year-old filly with the memorable name of Tiggy Wiggy…..

THE VAULT thanks the generosity of Michael Harris of Harris Equine Photography for the images of Tiggy Wiggy and reminds readers that these images are the copyright of Harris Equine Photography and may NOT be copied or reproduced in ANY form (including TUMBLR & PINTEREST) without the written permission of Michael Harris. Mr. Harris’ website is here: http://harris-equine-photography.comon. 

Two year-old TIGGY WIGGY is a tiny filly but size does nothing to diminish her courage on the turf. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography, UK

Two year-old TIGGY WIGGY is a tiny filly but size does nothing to diminish her courage on the turf. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography (UK)

Institutions like the Racing Post aren’t given to soppy sentiment, but the feature on Tiggy Wiggy came as close as a respected daily is going to get to it. Her white blazed face exploded from a kaleidoscope of colour on the Post’s cover, under the headline “CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.” No question about it: the Brits had fallen in love again.

The Irish-born daughter of Kodiac (2001), a son of the incomparable Danehill (1987) out of Khelef’s Silver (2006), a granddaughter of another great sire, Green Desert (1983), carries Danzig(1977) on the top and bottom of her pedigree, as well as two other champions — Kris (1971) and the great Sharpen Up (1968), both of whom were also impressive sires. Other names found within Tiggy Wiggy’s first five generations are Nijinsky (1967), Razyana (1981), His Majesty (1968) and his sire, Ribot (1952) and dam, Flower Bowl (1952), also the dam of Graustark (1963) and the champion filly, Bowl of Flowers (1958). As if this weren’t enough, Round Table (1954), Damascus (1964), Sir Ivor (1965) and Buckpasser (1963) appear in Tiggy Wiggy’s fifth generation.

TIGGY WIGGY with Kelly Turner and S Hussein, the two who take loving care of her on a daily basis. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography, UK

TIGGY WIGGY with Kelly Turner and Shanavaz Hussein, the two people who take loving care of her on a daily basis. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography (UK)

 

“Bloodedness” seemed to pour into Tiggy Wiggy which may, or may not, explain the talent she has shown in her juvenile season on the turf, running against her own sex as well as the boys. For her trainer, Richard Hannon Jr., learning what makes “The Tig” tick has certainly been interesting. The filly is “hot” in temperament with a tendency to boil over before she even hits the course. Hannon, in his first year at the helm of the stable run by his father, Richard Hannon Sr., has had many years to learn about thoroughbreds and his mastery is evident in turf stars like Toronado, Night of Thunder, Toormore, Olympic Glory and the fabulous Sky Lantern.

Like Tiggy Wiggy, Hannon has a black-type pedigree: not only his father, but also his grandfather, Harry, were both trainers. Hannon Jr. spent time in Australia learning the basics of his trade before returning to England to serve as assistant to Hannon Sr. in what can only be described as a “finishing school” for anyone aspiring to greatness in the sport of flat racing. There’s a kind of special pride in his demeanour when the younger Hannon talks about Tiggy Wiggy because she has truly been his work, unlike other stars of the 160-capacity Herridge And Everlea Racing Stables who were conditioned, at least in part, by his eminent father.

TIGGY leaves the paddock on her way to meet her jockey with

TIGGY and Shanavaz leave the paddock on their way to the saddling ring at Newmarket, pre-race. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography (UK)

Another ace in The Tig’s camp is jockey, Richard Hughes, or “Hughsie” to his legion of fans. Trainer and jockey are also brothers-in-law. Hughsie has been Britain’s Champion Flat Racing Jockey for the last three years in a row, beginning in 2011, but his life story contains its fair share of ups & downs, most recently a battle with alcoholism that very nearly cost him everything — from losing his family to severely compromising his career. It’s easy to forget that being a jockey is a stressful, demanding and dangerous job, since the great ones like Hughes make it seem so simple. This real-time footage of Hughes aboard Night of Thunder winning the Scott Dobson Memorial Doncaster Stakes in October of 2013 gives viewers a sense of what a jockey’s job is all about — and Night of Thunder is easy to pilot:

Tiggy Wiggy was purchased for the modest sum of 41,000 GBP ( or just over $64,000 USD) before her owners, Potensis Ltd. and their various partners sent her on to Hannon. Interviewed early in January 2014, in what would be his first year of taking on the mantle of Hannon Sr., his “wish list” for the coming year included no mention of Tiggy Wiggy which seems to indicate that, at least initially, the filly did little to impress him. What The Tig did do, however, was show just how spirited she could be, with the eventual result that she was turned over to former jockey and trainer, Maurice Ahern, for her works. Ahern, as a beaming Hannon pointed out after The Tig’s win at Lowther, knew how to handle her, working her away from the other horses and riding her “long-legged” rather than high in the stirrups, since anything resembling a race day gets the filly so excited that working her proves to be a battle of wills. And on race day, as all have learned, if the tiny whirlwind does not act up in the paddock there’s probably something not quite right with her. All we can do is observe that her fiery temperament, together with the blaze that runs over one nostril, conjures up memories of Canada’s Northern Dancer, who figures profusely in her pedigree.

NORTHERN DANCER'S blaze -- and temperament -- are very close to that of TIGGY WIGGY, a direct descendant of Canada's King of the Turf.

NORTHERN DANCER’S blaze — and temperament — seem a close match to that of TIGGY WIGGY, a direct descendant of Canada’s King of the Turf.

 

TIGGY WIGGY certainly has "The Dancer Look." Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography, UK

TIGGY WIGGY certainly has “The Dancer Look.” Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography (UK)

However, by the time her juvenile season was half-way through, everything about Tiggy Wiggy met with the adoration of her public, from trying to toss her jockey in the paddock to charging for the finish line. And what made her even more delightful was just how courageous she showed herself to be. Not once or twice, but in all of her eight starts in 2013-2014 — a hugely respectable campaign for a diminutive baby still learning the ropes.

She won her maiden at first asking over polytrack by seven lengths and returned five weeks later to win again on the turf at Salisbury, beating Excentricity by 1.5 lengths, having led the whole way. Moved up in class for the Listed Marygate Stakes at York, Tiggy Wiggy went down to defeat at the hands of a Welsh-trained filly, Patience Alexander. It was at this point that Richard Hughes took over from jockey Sean Levey, piloting The Tig to a win at Sandown Park in May against colts in the Listed National Stakes, run at a distance of just over 5 f, her longest race to date. Then it was off to Royal Ascot:

For both Hannon and Hughes, Day Two at Ascot proved a success but their little filly went down to Anthem Alexander in the Queen Mary Stakes, although she battled from start to finish, losing by a short neck at the wire. In July at Newbury, Tiggy Wiggy flew out of the gate so quickly that Hughsie confided “…she nearly gave me a facelift.” After the win, by some six lengths in mixed company carrying the prohibitive weight of 127 lbs., Hughsie added, “.. she covers so much ground for a small filly and quickened really well… she nearly lies down when she quickens. She’s very talented and very fast.”(Daily Mail)

TIGGY WIGGY (red silks) narrowly beaten by ANTHEM ALEXANDER (nearest) in a shot where you can see that the Tig nearly flattens out when she's going at top speed.

“…she nearly lies down when she quickens.” TIGGY WIGGY (red silks) is narrowly beaten by ANTHEM ALEXANDER (nearest) at Royal Ascot 2014.

In August, however, the shoe was on the other foot for Anthem Alexander in the Lowther Stakes, where the game Tiggy led the whole way and set a new track record.

Please follow the link to see the race (top of the page after a short ad), as well as an interview with trainer Richard Hannon. Superior footage showing The Tig beating old foes Anthem Alexander and Patience Alexander, as well as another very good filly in Cursory Glance:

http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/29850/tiggy-takes-lowther-by-storm

Which takes us back to where we began, settled over the Racing Post at breakfast in London, reading Richard Birch’s piece about a gallant filly who was about to run in her first Group 1, the Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes. Birch predicted that The Tig would “…raise the Newmarket roof this afternoon if she manages to clinch a sixth win from eight starts.” Other memorable phrases included: “Racegoers have taken this pocket rocket to their hearts…” or “It is no exaggeration to say that at Newbury and York you simply knew that she had won two furlongs out…” or ” The manner in which she finishes her races — head bowed low in splendidly determined fashion — is a sight to savour…”

Words of love to be sure. But then how could you not love a little filly who always tries her hardest? Who always shows up and battles to the finish as though her very life depended on it? But Tiggy Wiggy would need to be at her very best that afternoon in September, even though she was coming to the end of a long campaign:

And not only did she win her first Group One, but arguably as satisfying for Hannon and Hughes was the fact that The Tig settled beautifully after getting herself quite worked up when forced to wait for Explosive Lady, who refused to load into the gate. This latter augurs well for her three year-old season since it seems to suggest that THE dynamo of 2014 may be starting to mature.

TIGGY WIGGY takes the Rowley Mile in fine fashion, having led from gate to wire. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography, UK

TIGGY WIGGY takes the Rowley Mile in fine fashion, having led from gate to wire. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography (UK)

 

 A fairy tale story had come to a close.

Almost.

In November, Tiggy Wiggy claimed the Cartier Award for Champion Two Year-Old Filly. 

TIGGY WIGGY knows she's somebody special. Just look at her eyeing the camera! Pictured here with

TIGGY WIGGY knows she’s somebody special. Just look at her eyeing the camera! Pictured here with Kelly Turner. Photo and copyright, Harris Equine Photography (UK)

 

Sources

The Racing Post, September 27, 2014: “It’s Time To Toast Tiggy and Toby” by Richard Birch

The Guardian

The Newmarket Journal

Racing UK “Tiggy Takes Lowther By Storm”

More photography from Harris Equine Photography can also be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HarrisEquinePhotography

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Royal Ascot is about to open and in 2014 will host a veritable who’s-who of the British and European turf. An exciting twist for American racing fans is provided by the entry of Rosalind, trained by Kenny McPeek, in either the Ribblesdale Stakes on June 19 or the Coronation Stakes on Friday, June 20.  In addition, Verrazano, now in training with Aidan O’Brien, will be starting in either the Queen Anne (June 17) or the Prince of Wales (June 18) Stakes. 

ROSALIND, trained by Kenny McPeek, is set to make her UK debut in the Coronation Stakes on June 20.

ROSALIND is set to make her UK debut in either the Ribblesdale or the Coronation Stakes. Both of these races are designed for fillies.

Impossible as it is to focus on every horse entered at Royal Ascot, there are several who have become familiar names to racing fans worldwide. Keeping our readership and their needs in mind, we have focused on a few of the star-studded cast who will assemble at Royal Ascot next week. At the time of this writing, the fields were still not quite set and since several of the entries described below remain co-entered in two different races, readers are encouraged to go to the Racing Post site for Royal Ascot to check the racing cards early next week: http://royal-ascot.racingpost.com/horses/cards/

TREVE

Arc winner, Treve, is set to kick off in the Prince of Wales Stakes on Wednesday, June 18 in what will be her first start on British soil. Last seen in neck-to-neck combat with the outstanding Cirrus des Aigles in April at Longchamps in the Prix Ganay (below), which Treve lost by a whisker in her first-ever defeat, trainer Cricket Head-Maarek’s champion seems ready to add another jewel to her crown next week.

As satisfying as it will be for Head-Maarek to see her great mare return to the winner’s circle at Ascot, the Prince of Wales is thought to be a prep race for Treve who’s real objective is likely to be the 1 million purse in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in July, where it is very possible that she will meet up with Derby winner, Australia. From there, if all goes well, Treve will defend her title in the 2015 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. If anyone can get her through this arduous campaign it is Head-Maarek, a trainer of no small merit who hails from the family of Freddie Head, trainer of the brilliant Goldikova. Here is Treve in-training prior to the Prix Ganay, with commentary from the distinguished jockey, Frankie Dettori, who has ridden some of the greatest thoroughbreds of the last twenty years.

The Prince of Wales is shaping up to be a solid race including Aidan O’Brien’s 2013 Epsom Derby winner, Ruler of the World, John Gosden’s globetrotting mare, The Fugue, the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram, second in last year’s Dubai World Cup, and Dank, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, last seen by North America in her record-setting run in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November 2013 (below). (NOTE: Ruler of the World is co-entered in the Hardwicke Stakes, Saturday, June 21st. Check on Monday, June 16 to see where he is going.)

Of particular interest to American racing fans will be the entry of Verrazano, last year’s winner of the Wood Memorial, who is now being trained by Aidan O’Brien. O’Brien reports that he is pleased with Verrazano’s progress to date. The 4 year-old made his first start for O’Brien at Newberry in May, where he finished a very respectable third to champion Olympic Glory in the JLT Lockinge Stakes (below). (NOTE: Verrazano is co-entered in the Queen Anne Stakes which will run on Tuesday, June 17. Verrazano fans should check at on the weekend or Monday, June 16 when the entries should be finalized for June 17.)

SOFT FALLING RAIN & OLYMPIC GLORY

Mike de Kock’s Soft Falling Rain is getting set to take on Olympic Glory in the Queen Anne Stakes, on the first day of racing (June 17th) at Royal Ascot. The last time he tried this on Ascot turf, Soft Falling Rain ran the worst race of his distinguished career, coming in 11th behind the winner (Olympic Glory). But don’t be fooled: Mike de Kock’s champion has only ever finished out of the money twice in his 12 starts, winning 8. A son of Canada’s National Assembly, a champion sire in South Africa who was trained by Vincent O’Brien but never raced due to injury, Soft Falling Rain is a grandson of the prepotent Danzig and Giant’s Causeway is his BM sire. So this 5 year-old is “bred in the purple” and always gives his best. His last start was in March in the Godolphin Mile, where he narrowly lost out to stablemate Variety Club:

Olympic Glory (shown in video above in connection with Verrazano) is another champion who has won very consistently over 13 career starts for trainer, Richard Hannon. A son of Choisir, the first Australian-trained horse to win at Royal Ascot (2003) who became almost as famous for his weird headgear, Olympic Glory carries “the Danehill gene” that never seems to disappoint. Accordingly, the colt has won seven times in France and England, and was seen last year at Royal Ascot winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (below).  Despite coming in 4th at Longchamps to the mighty Cirrus des Aigles, expect Olympic Glory to be well in the mix on opening day.

CHOISIR, the sire of OLYMPIC GLORY, shown here winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2003. A handsome devil, CHOISIR was as memorable for his headgear as he was for his immense talent.

CHOISIR, the sire of OLYMPIC GLORY, shown here winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2003. CHOISIR was as famous for his headgear as he was for his immense talent.

ESTIMATE

Perhaps the most heartwarming moment of last year’s Royal Ascot was the delight of HM The Queen as she greeted her filly, Estimate, in the winner’s enclosure after the Gold Cup.

Estimate was the product of an arrangement involving her dam, Ebaziya, owned by the Aga Khan Studs and HM’s Royal Stud. The latter sent Ebaziya to the super German stallion, Monsun (sire of Novellist, Shirocco and Stacelita, among others) and the result was a beautiful mare who has done her 88 year-old owner-breeder proud. Although lightly raced, the 5 year-old has won 4 of her 8 starts. Given HM’s passion for thoroughbred racing, it would be a thrill to see Estimate defend her title with another win in the 2m 4f Gold Cup on June 19. But she will have to be at her absolute best to vanquish her competition.

It’s a fair guess that Aidan O’Brien’s Leading Light will push Estimate to the limit if he can get the distance. Successful at Navan in May, the son of Montjeu has only lost twice in 8 starts. Out of the Gone West mare, Dance Parade, Leading Light was the brilliant winner of the St. Leger last year as a 3 year-old, and at Royal Ascot 2013 showed true grit in winning the Queen’s Vase.

A sentimental favourite is the hardy Simenon, whose problem won’t be the distance. Rather, it will be his age. At seven, with 38 starts under his belt, Simenon may be getting past his best but he’s one of the most honest horses in the race. Too, there is Richard Baldwin’s Whiplash Willie, who ran a very decent third at Sandown last time out to the favourite, Brown Panther.

CERTIFY

Certify was brilliant as a juvenile at 2 and as a 3 year-old, but her career was cut in half by the drug scandal that beset Godolphin’s trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni in 2013. Certify returned in 2014 where she won her first race, followed by a fourth at Meydan in what was her first ever defeat. Her story is a heart-breaker because the daughter of Elusive Quality is Frankel-esque in her abilities and bringing her back to form after an enforced break of 469 days is a challenge of epic proportions. Switched to trainer Charlie Appleby, Certify is listed to run against fillies and mares in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes on Wednesday, June 18. One can only hope to see her regain the brilliance of her 2012 season. Either way, she is a superstar gracing the turf of champions. Here is Certify winning the Shadwell Fillies Mile in 2012, followed by her win in the Cape Verdi at Meydan in January 2014:

 

BROWN PANTHER

Another serious contender for the Gold Cup will be Ted Dascombe’s Brown Panther, a son of Shirocco and grandson of Monsun. As of this writing, Brown Panther has won his last two races decisively and with 20 starts and 9 wins under his belt, appears to be peaking at just the right moment. The Dascombe-trained 6 year-old is currently listed as the favourite going in to Royal Ascot week, given that his last win came at the Gold Cup distance over a soggy track at Sandown. Although it has taken him some time to get there, Brown Panther deserves the attention he’s getting.

Bred by his owner, Michael Owen, a British and international soccer (football in the UK) star who now does football commentary for the British media, Brown Panther represents the zenith of his owner’s career in horse racing. And he’s come along very nicely under Ted Dascombe’s patient tutelage, since his male family have a tendency to come into their own rather slowly by today’s standards and Dascombe understands this.

As footage of his most recent win at Sandown was not available, here is Brown Panther (turquoise shirt) winning the Artemis Goodwood Cup at Glorious Goodwood a year ago, where he beat the likes of Colour Vision soundly.  By all accounts, he’s an even better distance runner this year.

ROSALIND

America’s Rosalind will have her work cut out for her, making her first start on grass at Royal Ascot in either the Ribblesdale (June 19) or the Coronation Stakes (June 20). Either way, she will be in heady company, including a contingent from Ballydoyle that includes Wonderfully, John Gosden’s Criteria, Roger Varian’s excellent Sea The Stars filly, Anipa, Godolphin’s Ihtimal, John Oxx’s talented filly My Titania (another by Sea The Stars), Andre Fabre’s Miss France, together with lightly-raced fillies like Wonderstruck, Dermot Weld’s Edelmira or William Haggas’ Cape Cross filly, Token of Love.

Still, Rosalind will have a huge fan following from America, where she is a favourite and they will be rooting for her all the way. The daughter of Broken Vow whose BM sire is Theatrical has several excellent grass runners in her pedigree, including Britain’s last Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky II, as well as Sassafras and Nureyev, who was born and raced in France where he got Champion 3 year-old honours. Her owners, Landaluce Educe Stables and trainer, Kenny McPeek have little reason to doubt either her quality or her determination. Having only finished out of the money twice in 8 starts, Rosalind is shown here in a gutsy win over Room Service in April at Keeneland:

WAR COMMAND, KINGMAN & NIGHT OF THUNDER

It would be fair to say that next to the emotion of HM’s Estimate taking the Gold Cup, last year’s Royal Ascot was punctuated by the thrill of 2 year-old War Command’s victory. As his white-blazed faced streaked across the finish line his sire’s (War Front) reputation grew even more in the minds of British and European thoroughbred owners and breeders. They had to be asking themselves, “Have we got another Northern Dancer on the rise?” since The Dancer really made his legacy through the loyalty of Coolmore-Ballydoyle, specifically Vincent O’Brien, to his progeny. Most of whom proved to be brilliant. Cross-entered in both the prestigious St. James Palace Stakes (June 17) and the Diamond Jubilee (June 21), Coolmore-Ballydoyle will be dreaming of a performance that repeats War Command’s brilliance of almost a year ago:

However, a little-publicized truth (according to Ballydoyle) is that the “War Fronts can be quite lazy” and War Command pulled that card in his most recent outing in May at Newmarket, where he finished a dismal 9th in the 2000 Guineas, failing to pick up the pace when it counted most. If he does this again at Royal Ascot, he’ll likely be pummelled by either the brilliant Night of Thunder or Kingman.

Night of Thunder, a 3 year-old son of Dubawi, is trained by the eminent Richard Hannon. Having won 3 of his 4 lifetime starts, the colt has never been out of the money. More importantly, Night of Thunder is this year’s winner of the Quipco 2000 Guineas, taking it despite hanging out very far as he and jockey Keiron Fallon came to the finish. But he beat War Command, the subsequent Derby winner, Australia, as well as a very good colt in Kingman despite what could have been a disastrous error:

Kingman and Night of Thunder have been challenging each other throughout the season. While Juddmonte’s Kingman lost to his rival in the Quipco 2000 Guineas, he went on to subsequently take the Irish 2000 Guineas in devastating fashion. The son of Invincible Spirit has only ever lost once in his 5 lifetime starts. Accordingly, Prince Khalid Abdullah and trainer John Gosden’s champion has been accorded the status of favourite to take the St. James Palace next week:

SOME PROMINENT AMERICAN SIRES REPRESENTED AT ASCOT 2014 

The War Fronts make up a small army, with newcomers War Envoy and The Great War running in the prestigious Coventry Stakes for 2 year-olds on June 17; Guerre and Due Diligence running on the same day in the King’s Stand; Giovanni Boldini joining War Command in the St. James Palace Stakes; and a filly, Peace and War is running for  Sheikh Suhaim Al Thani/QRL/M Al Kubaisi in the Queen Mary Stakes  (June 18).

Elusive Quality is represented in the St. James Palace Stakes (June 17) by Michaelmas who runs for Ballydoyle; Great White Eagle in the Jersey Stakes for Ballydoyle (June 18); Elusive Guest for John Guest Racing runs in the Jersey Stakes (June 18); and the fabulous mare Certify is due to run in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes (June 18) for Godolphin.

Big Brown is represented by the very good colt, Darwin, who runs in the King’s Stand (June 17) for Ballydoyle.

Bluegrass Cat is represented by Biting Bullets who runs for Mrs. Joanna Hughes in another 2 year-old race, the Windsor Castle Stakes (June 17).

Quality Road has a 2 year-old colt, Hootenanny, running in the Windsor Castle Stakes in the colours of Tabor, Magnier and Smith (June 17).

Street Cry has Street Force running in the Jersey Stakes (June 18) for Saeed Mañana.

Dynaformer is represented by Somewhat who runs in the colours of  Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum in the King Edward VII Stakes (June 20).

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