1:55 Goodwood Stakes (Handicap)
Extended to 2m5f in 2001, given that there are very few races of this extreme distance run on the Flat, horses with the required stamina levels are aimed at this race some time in advance. There are few, if any, better trainers of stayers than Mark Johnston who is bidding for a hat-trick in the race and a fifth victory in total having also won in 2003 and 2007 and he is represented this year by solely by Maid In Rio who is thrown in under a 3lb penalty having destroyed her rivals in the Brown Jack Handicap at Ascot by 9l on Friday having been running all over them turning from home so she will dominate the market despite this being a 15-runner handicap. The same double was completed 12 months ago by the Johnston-trained Broxbourne who won the Brown Jack Handicap by 3½l before striking here at 7/1 beating Lieutenant Miller by half a length. Maid In Rio will be no 7/1 chance. The niggle is that this is a tough test of stamina for a three-year-old. Few therefore attempt this race but we have to go back 26 years to locate the last successful three-year-old. Lieutenant Miller returns off a 4lb higher mark than when runner-up 12 months ago and the top weight will be attempting to give Nicky Henderson a third winner of this handicap since 2005 having finished seventh in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal Meeting on his previous start. He was in better form entering this race 12 months ago though having arrived here off the back of finishing third in that same Royal Ascot 2m handicap. Solar View represents Sir Mark Prescott who won this race in 2006 with Key Time who was on a roll having won five of his last six races. Solar View has won five of his last seven races so has a similar profile in that respect and you can be sure that Prescott will have targeted this race from an early stage. Only fourth of seven a month ago at odds of 4/7 at Chepstow, that run will have to be overlooked to back him here and the most plausible reason for that flop was that it came just five days after his previous run/win which followed an absence of 22 months so bounce theories will be plastered all over his chance in tomorrow’s media. It’s plausible of course as he wasn’t travelling well from some way out. Described as a big, green horse after his previous win at Thirsk, the likelihood therefore is that there is more to come and especially moving up 5f in trip. He is very much respected. Ian Williams is the fourth and final trainer with a runner to have won this race before and he lets Teak take his chance though he has struggled in two runs since being reassessed for winning at Pontefract last month.
In addition to Maid In Rio, Longshadow arrives here under a 3lb penalty for a recent win, his third in his last four starts. He will have one less day from which to recover than Maid In Rio having won at Newcastle on Saturday in a Class 5 handicap and this is a big jump up to Class 2 handicap standard. Stopped Out also arrives here off the back of a win but he is a nine-year-old and it was only a six-runner race which he pinched last time out having made all and was soon clear and just held on. Of more interest of the last-time-out winners are the Amanda Perrett-trained pair of Lion Beacon and Presto Volante. Lion Beacon won over 1m6f here in June and is only 3lb higher so it is more of a question of whether he can stay an additional 7f with him more than anything else to see him in there pitching at the business end. Presto Volante squeezed home by a short-head on his last start at Kempton after which his assistant trainer stated he likes flat tracks but he handles Goodwood as has run three decent-enough races here in as many starts.
Sohar is a regular in these races and arrives here off a good fourth in the Ascot Stakes over 2m. He was well fancied for this race last year (started 8/1) but only finished twelfth after he made a very slow start and he was soon detached under a bizarre ride. He won later in the season at Newmarket off a 6lb lower mark and has run three fine races this year in as many starts and Tom Queally is reunited with him for the first time since they successfully paired up at HQ. Ray Ward also ran well in the Ascot Stakes finishing two places behind Sohar and is a potential improver for the longer trip. Brockwell was just one place behind Ray Ward (and has since placed when favourite for a 2m York handicap). Romeo Montague also ran at Royal Ascot when eighth in the Queen Alexandra Stakes so he needs to up his game as he was third in that same marathon 12 months earlier so doesn’t appear to be in the same kind of form. The field is completed by the eight-year-old, Sunny Future, who won twice at Salisbury last month over 1m4f and 1m6f but his hat-trick was thwarted at the same course when bumped up another 5lb.
CONCLUSION - Maid In Rio is likely to be all the rage but this is not an easy race for a three-year-old (no wins since 1988) and better value could lie with Solar View if you take the view that he ‘bounced’ last time out or Sohar (each-way) who brings solid Royal Ascot form to the race and a terrible start cost him all chance when well fancied for this handicap last year. If I Sohar I also have to like Ray Ward who was close up behind him at Ascot.
2:30 Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes
The Gordon Stakes is of course a Group 3 race that carries much prestige but it is mainly considered as a Ladbrokes St Leger trial these days and a highly influential guide at that. Encke’s success on Town Moor two years ago having finished second in this contest extended its performance to six winners in the last 14 years, four of which completed the double. Mark Johnston has a live St Leger hope in Hartnell but he will probably wait for the Great Voltigeur leaving the shock Coral-Eclipse third, Somewhat, to represent him here. A 100/1 shot that day, he was driven to lead setting a fast gallop early on but the pace then slowed up so he was ideally positioned to outrun his odds whilst the big fancies watched each other in rear. Was he flattered by finishing third? Of course he was having been comfortably beaten in three Listed/Group 3 races earlier in the season but punters are not stupid and that should be factored into his price here. I do think that he will enjoy this extra 2f though as he looks a relentless galloper so he has a good chance of giving his trainer a third Gordon Stakes having been campaigned like a stayer as a two-year-old.
Snow Sky will be bidding to give Sir Michael Stoute an eighth victory in this race but I am not sensing that he is considered their best St Leger hope. Runner-up to Western Hymn (won two pattern races since) on his seasonal debut, he then beat Hartnell (won two St Leger guides since) in the Lingfield Derby Trial before a setback ruled him out of Epsom but I was little disappointed with his fourth behind Eagle Top in the King Edward VII Stakes where Scotland finished one place ahead of him. He does have a rounded action so perhaps the ground was quicker than ideal for him at Royal Ascot (good-to-firm), in which case that might the case again here judged on race times for Day 1. Scotland stayed on for third in the Kingh Edward VII Stakes and looks more of an out-and-out stayer of the pair so I can see him contesting Cup races next season so whether this 1m4f is a sufficient test for him, I have some doubts. John Gosden’s Arctic Cosmos was third in this race before winning the St Leger. He certainly has a stronger St Leger candidate in the Derby third, Romsdal, than his representative today, Cloudscape, and although he won this race with the Derby third in 1996 who was the class act beforehand, Gosden tends to run promising types treating this race more of a springboard hence just that sole win. Cloudscape has it to do on form and he is also not that promising an individual in that he has run four times this season culminating in a 2l fourth to Cannock Chase at Royal Ascot so I am struggling to see him move forward sufficiently to win.
I don’t usually associate the Hannon yard with winning St Leger trials and he runs Windshear who has finished runner-up on his last three starts, the first two in handicaps when unfortunately running into Group horses in Cannock Chase and Elite Army before running a funny race when second to Hartnell when upped to 1m5f in the Bahrain Trophy as he looked well beaten before making some late headway. Maybe the soft ground didn’t help him that day but he has also been busy enough and this will be his sixth start of the season. More intriguing is Roger Charlton’s Observational on just his fourth start having won what I always knew as the Predominate Stakes (now Cocked Hat Stakes) at the May Meeting here so he has proven form on the coursee. Only a length covered the first four home in that five-runner affair so the form is nothing to shout about but he rallied well in the closing stages on that step up to 1m2f which bodes well for further improvement stepping up another quarter-mile. The ground was also soft and his jockey reported he would be better on a quicker surface. Roger Varain’s Ayrad is also having just his fourth start and he completes the octet. He has most to do on official figures by some way but the fact that a trainer as realistic as Varian thought he was worth a crack at the French Derby (eleventh after he dwelt at the start so was immediately on the back foot) is interesting enough after outclassing his rivals to win at long odds-on on his previous start.
CONCLUSION - I can find reasons not to back all eight of these so it’s not a race I have a strong opinion on but Observational is more interesting than most and he looks the main threat to Somewhat who would have a chance even if you ignored his surprise Eclipse third.
3:05 Qipco Sussex Stakes
A few facts you might not know about the Sussex Stakes. It was first staged in 1841, it was restricted to two-year-olds for the first 37 years, it has witnessed 14 walkovers(!) and ten winners went on to be crowned Champion European Miler have won it since 1979. A few facts you will know about the Sussex Stakes. It is the premier mile race in Britain during the summer, Frankel won it twice and it has been dubbed the Duel On The Downs for two of the last three years. Make that three of the last four years now as although this year race features a Breeders’ Cup Turf winner in Outstrip, (the Dewhurst winner War Command has been withdrawn since his declaration) plus Darwin take their chance, Kingman v Toronado is a proper head-to-head contest featuring the best three-year-old miler in Europe in Khalid Abdulla’s colours taking on the best older miler in Europe representing Hannon and Hughes, so obvious comparisons can be drawn to when Frankel and Canford Cliffs met in 2011.
If Toronado is to win successive runnings after beating Dawn Approach in last season’s Duel On The Downs then he will become only the second horse to win consecutive renewals. A horse called Frankel was the other. That isn’t as horrific a stat as it sounds however as four-year-olds were only allowed to compete from 1960 onwards and, after another 15 years, the race was only then opened up to horses aged 5+ so only age stats from 1976 onwards are relevant. For the record the score reads a very healthy 26-12 in favour of the three-year-olds so a top class three-year-old has certainly had the edge over top class older horses which is not in Toronado’s favour but he looked every inch a top-notcher when he made a winning reappearance in the Queen Anne Stakes. Prior to and after that victory, his connections were keen to hammer home the point that although Toronado had physically developed into something very special over the winter, he would still improve for the run so I expect him to strip fitter and improve a couple more pounds here. As good as he looked at Royal Ascot however, I identified early on in the season that it wouldn’t be a great Queen Anne and, so the bare form of beating Verrazano, Anodin and Tullius wouldn’t frighten Kingman fans even if he did it with panache and with the promise of more to come. Two factors very much in Toronado’s favour though are that (1) we know he handles the undulations of Goodwood and (2) no one rides this place better than Hughes who I suspect will want to try and follow Kingman and jump on him late on like he did with Dawn Approach last year. The difference between Kingman and Dawn Approach, however, is that Kingman is a quickener and Dawn Approach was a galloper so this could boil down to a combination of tactics and who can quicken up the best.
Supporters of Kingman will fancy their horse has an even more devastating turn of foot than Toronado given that he put up the fastest-ever recorded final 2f split at Ascot over a mile by Timeform when winning the St James’s Palace Stakes (even faster that Sole Power in the King’s Stand) which was made even more impressive by the fact he spotted Night Of Thunder a few lengths entering the home straight and he had Outstrip 3¼l back in third. True, they didn’t go mad in the first half of the race by any means but that split time suggests that Kingman would also be Champion Sprinter over 6f if they wanted to head down that route as well as probably Champion Miler so his connections should not be that concerned if this gets tactical and it turns into a pure toe race. His only defeat came in a messy 2000 Guineas featuring two groups which probably caused him to commit too early and that Classic, which was widely regarded as the deepest for a good while, has since thrown up the winners of the Epsom, Irish and French Derby, the Epsom Derby runner-up, and Kingman has been magnificent himself in recording wins at The Curragh and Royal Ascot. Maybe he was less effective in the 2000 Guineas as that was head-banging mile whereas the St James’s Palace Stakes wasn’t? If so, could Hughes try and make this a test of stamina instead on Toronado from the front? It would be a bold call if they do but not impossible.
Kingman is sure to start favourite over Toronado but I am not sure the difference should be as wide as 4/9 and 9/4. With regards to the record of favourites, five of the last six have won. In fact, the market leader has won over 50% of runnings since World War II collecting on 37 occasions in 68 runnings which is some record. Prior to the 2000 Guineas, fast ground was considered a potential problem for Kingman following at operation that curtailed his two-year-old career one race premature but he was brilliant at Royal Ascot where the dipped under standard time so the ground was riding faster than the official ‘Good’ so that should not be a problem on its own, it’s just whether fast ground on an undulating course might not be 100% perfect for him.
CONCLUSION - as good as Toronado is, Kingman could easily be remembered in years to come as one of the most outstanding milers we have seen so although I feel the difference in odds between the pair is greater than it should be, I am not sure I want to take on the brilliant Irish 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes especially receiving 8lb looking at the record of not only three-year-olds in the Sussex Stakes but the record of the favourite over many years.
3:40 Veuve Cliquot Vintage Stakes
This Group 2 race for two-year-olds has comfortably been the principal Classic guide at Glorious Goodwood with Troy, Dr Devious and Sir Percy all going on to win the Derby, Don’t Forget Me and Mister Baileys went on to win the 2000 Guineas and Shamardal went on to win both the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby. This has also been a very strong race for favourites winning as many as 25 of the 39 runnings.
The Hannon stable and Richard Hughes have dominated the race in recent seasons winning the last four runnings and they team up with Tupi leaving Ryan Moore to ride the perceived Hannon second-string, Dr No. Tupi made a winning debut 47 days ago at Sandown when justifying favouritism beating his stablemate and fellow debutant, Marshall Jennings, who has since run well when second to the Chesham Stakes fourth on debut, Nafaqa, so it looks like a good maiden. The fourth has won since prior to two defeats. As with the vast majority of Hannon two-year-olds, you would expect him to build on his debut effort as they leave something to work on fitness-wise and he should also benefit in general terms as he showed inexperience earlier in the race before the penny dropped. Dr No brings Group 2 form to the contest having finished seventh in the Coventry Stakes beaten 3l. The fifth and tenth in the Coventry have won in the last few days in a Listed and conditions race respectively and the third was also second to the very impressive Ivawood (runs in the Richmond Stakes) in a Group 2 so the race is working out pretty well.
Ahlan Emarati was placed at Royal Ascot when appearing to benefit from being held up off an overly-strong gallop in the Norfolk Stakes over 5f eventually finishing a 3¾l third but he showed that to be no flash in the pan as he then chased home Kool Kompany by 2l when upped to 6f for the Group 2 Railway Stakes at The Curragh and then winner then won the Group 2 Prix Robert-Papin. He is up another furlong again today and judged by the way he has stayed on when placing on his last two starts, it could bring around a little more improvement. Also raised to 7f for the first time is Room Key who won a Salisbury maiden before finishing second at the same course in a conditions race receiving 6lb from the winner so he needs to improve and, more interestingly, the Mark Johnston-trained Pallister who is chasing a hat-trick after defeats of Winstanley at York and Pontefract, though that horse did little for the form when only eighth in the maiden here on Day 1. Mark Johnston has won this race with two subsequent Classic winners (Mister Baileys and Shamardal) in addition to with Lucky Story so it is a race he likes to aim his best staying two-year-old at. Johnston also saddles Chadic who has been solely campaigned at this 7f trip in his three starts to date getting off the mark last time out at Ayr under Joe Fanning but he sides with Pallister today.
Aidan O’Brien’s two-year-olds are really firing now after a poor Royal Ascot and he sends over Highland Reel who won his maiden at Gowran Park by 12 lengths earlier this month clearly benefitting from finishing second to Tombelaine on his debut who was then second of three to the potentially high-class Gleneagles. That was a maiden over 1m that O’Brien likes to target having now won it for seven straight years. Highland Reel had Taqaseem 3½l adrift on his debut but he then beat that same rival into second by additional 8½l at Gowran Park to show much he had improve for his debut run. He drops back in trip here. Faithful Creek also won a maiden last time out when winning at Epsom for Brian Meehan after a couple of fair runs in Newmarket maidens but he looks to have a lot on his plate here.
CONCLUSION - I was quite keen on Pallister until his form was badly let down in the maiden here on Tuesday so this is likely to go to Highland Reel who may be a class above his rivals following a wide-margin win over 1m last time or Tupi attempting to give the Hannon-Hughes axis a fifth win in this race on the spin.
4:15 Markel Insurance Maiden Fillies’ Stakes
A maiden race for two-year-old fillies over 6f, the Roll of Honour over the last ten years features only a couple of subsequent Group 3 winners so it doesn’t always take a smart filly to win it. Six of the 13 declarations have race experience but three winners in the last decade were debutantes with four being once-raced, two being twice-raced and the other having her fifth start.
Shahah looks the obvious pick of those with experience having finished second on debut at Doncaster last month for Richard Hannon and Frankie Dettori in the colours of Al Shaqab Racing. Held up early on, this 320,000gns purchase as a yearling ran green but picked up well grasping the nettle late on so will come on plenty for that initial experience as do the vast majority of the stable’s newcomers. Hannon also runs the newcomer, Avenue Du Monde, with Richard Hughes on board but given how much the stable’s debutantes usually improve from their first run to their second, she would have to be smart to beat her stablemate and she has no fancy entries whereas Shahah is in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes. The only other once-raced contender is the Charlie Hills-trained Hundi who needs to step up on her eighth place at Newmarket but she was very slowly away and the fact that she was sent off as short as 100/30 in a 13-runner HQ maiden (and a decent maiden at that) suggests that she had shown plenty of ability beforehand and she is the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes and the Rockfel. The stable also run the newcomer, Inauguration, who has no pattern-race entries.
Of those twice-raced, Royal Razalma finished second in a maiden auction race at Warwick as a 25/1 shot. That was a big improvement on her first run but she will need plenty more improvement again. I prefer Moon River given that Brian Meehan has won this maiden twice in the last seven years but she too needs to come on a bundle having finished in midfield at Newbury and Windsor on her two starts. Piccadillo finished 2l ahead of Moon River in that Windsor maiden in fourth, which was an improvement on her debut effort. The only other filly with race experience is Mary Ann Bugg who has failed to finish in the first four in five attempts.
Outside of Avenue Du Monde, the most interesting newcomer could be Touchline for Michael Bell in the colours of The Queen as she has Cheveley Park and Rockfel entries. Bright Flash is also an interesting debutante as David Brown is a dab hand at getting horses to win on their debut but they don’t always move forward thereafter. If she is considered very useful then we are to know judged by the market as her owner, John Fretwell, is not afraid to get properly stuck into backing his own horses. Mick Channon gives a debut to Follow The Faith who has no further entries and neither does Marigot Bay for Gay Kelleway.
CONCLUSION - Shahah sets a fairly decent standard and can be expected to come on both mentally (ran green) and physically (Hannon usually leaves something to work on) so she is the pick of those with racecourse experience over Hundi with Touchline the most interesting of the debutantes.
4:50 EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Fillies’ Handicap
This all-aged 1m2f handicap is open to fillies rated 0-95 which are EBF eligible and a competitive 16-runner handicap it is too of which 12 are three-year-olds so the four older fillies/mares are up against it as they have been in the last decade trailing 8-2 including failing to win in any of the last four renewals. Those four older fillies are headed by Auction who was second in the 26-runner Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot last year but she has not matched that form in four starts this term. The top weight is Agent Allison who has her first start in 160 days having finished eighth in a Listed race in Meydan last time out. It was a long time ago when she was second in the Fred Darling Stakes last year and she needs a huge turnaround on her most recent runs. Magique just looks too exposed and not in good enough form so therefore Running Deer can fare best of the older fillies who has won three of her last six handicaps but she was well held at Salisbury last time out.
Five of the 12 three-year-olds arrive here directly off the back of a victory of which the least exposed is the Luca Cumani-trained Patterned who was unraced at two, finishing fifth on her debut last month before winning not the strongest of Windsor maidens. After that victory Adam Kirby described her as: “A filly for the future. She has the right pedigree, the right temperament and stays well.” Cumani has a good record at this meeting and his horses finished second in the two big handicaps on Day 1. Water Hole, Principle Equation and Palerma are last-time-out winners with just one more start. Water Hole is chasing a hat-trick for John Gosden who followed up an odds-on Lingfield maiden win by defying a handicap mark of 80 at Doncaster against fellow fillies and she has to now defy a 7lb higher mark. Principle Equation found just one too good by less than a length on both of her first two starts before outclassing her rivals at 8/13 at Windsor and now has her handicap debut off a mark of 81. Ralph Beckett does well with his fillies. The Mick Channon-trained Palerma has improved with all three starts culminating with a maiden win at Salisbury and proved she could handle these twists and undulations when a half-length third here on her previous start. Last but certainly no means least of the last-time-out winners is Roger Charlton’s Hiking who won two of her three starts at two before probably needing her first run of the season last month and then winning at Salisbury off 82 and she is just 2lb higher.
The three-year-olds arriving here off a defeat are much harder to fancy as you would think at least one of that quintet highlighted above has plenty more in hand of what the Handicapper believes. Uchenna is the only previous Goodwood winner in the field when she won a maiden last September and connections then fancied the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile where she was outclassed. Unfortunately she has also been outclassed in four Listed races this season too. Hot Coffee doesn’t appear obviously well handicapped after four defeats this campaign and she is now only 3lb lower than at the end of last season, Alquimia has been running well of late but this is a better class handicap, Hedge End has been thereabouts in seven handicaps since her last win but she too could be out of her class but Saltwater Creek could have more to come on her sixth start for the Michael Bell stable that is now in form after a quiet first half of the season and she showed more at Ascot last time when a place ahead of Lady Tiana. Sandra’s Diamond ran yesterday at Goodwood but hared off way too fast in getting over from a high draw and was done for as far as 3f out.
CONCLUSION - I will be surprised if this is not won by one of the five three-year-olds who won last time out and I like Hiking, Principle Equation and Patterned most out of that quintet.
5:25 Turf Club Stakes (Handicap)
A 7f Class 3 handicap for horses aged 3+ on the Round Course ends proceedings so track position is going to be vital and a high draw should be hard to overcome though the favourite overcame stall 18 last year. Verse Of Love is a non-runner leaving 19 to face the starter of which only one is a three-year-old, Mark Johnston’s Little Shambles, who has been done no favours drawn one from the outside but she is a front runner so a quick start can help remedy that and we saw again how well Johnston fares in handicaps by supplying the 1-3-4 in the opener on Day 1.
Related is drawn in stall 1 and has first-time blinkers to boot to whizz him up so he could easily take advantage of that draw in the early stages. He was tried in a first-time visor last time out and was a little too keen however. The top weight, Englishman, is also well drawn in stall 4 and arrives here after finishing second in handicaps at Windsor and Newmarket. After missing all of last season he is finding his form again and was a leading fancy for the Coventry Stakes the previous year. The horse I like most from a single-figure draw however is George Rooke (stall 7) who has been running consistently well this season, his stable had a treble on Sunday so no worries on that score and Ryan Moore has been booked for the first time. The Confessor is also worthy of respect being a course-and-distance winner drawn in the lower half (stall as is Lulu The Zulu (stall 5) who has not finished out of the first two on his last three starts. Liberty Jack isn’t badly drawn in stall 10 and first-time cheekpieces worked a treat for him last time winning at Newmarket when ridden more prominently than usual.
Of those drawn in the higher half, in addition to Little Shambles, I have time for Brave Echo who beat Related into second over course and distance when they met in June and they race off the same terms. He has been well beaten at Ascot since then but he clearly likes Goodwood having won here three times. The final horse I will throw into the mix is Oblitereight who is drawn widest of all but I have time for William Knight’s horses at his local track and he is fitted with a first-time visor.
CONCLUSION - not a great quality race, too many runners, luck in running will be required and the draw can also play a part so if you’re playing go easy. If pressed I will take George Rooke, Related, Englishman and Little Shambles against the field.