2.35 Goodwood – Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes
Ten horses look set to do battle in what may be a tactical contest over Goodwood’s 12 furlongs. Aidan O’Brien saddles race favourite Highland Reel who is bidding to bounce back from a lacklustre run in the Irish Derby.
That was his first try over 12 furlongs and while you can’t be sure the trip beat him, he didn’t shape like a horse on good terms with himself, for whatever reason, and is passed over at skinny odds.
Value can be seen further down the filed in the shape of Disegno and Medrano. While both horses have plenty to find on official ratings with the favourite, they should be more at home over this trip.
Medrano has been nothing but consistent and tough for David Brown this season and comes in here in good order after his latest Listed success on proper soft terrain at Hamilton. He’s probably a little flattered by that raw form, but he is sure to run his race.
Sir Michael Stoute has got an able deputy for Ryan Moore in Andrea Atzeni for Disengo, who was a well-beaten fourth in the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot. While he had over seven lengths to find with the classy winner Time Test in the end – he had no chance of beating him – he did give a big headstart to the others that finished ahead of him.
He made late gains in the straight and he shaped as if this step up in trip would suit. His classy pedigree suggests he can stay and we may see an improved horse over this distance.
Scottish and Space Age bring useful handicap form to the table, but this may be too much too soon while the rest don’t look good enough.
At the prices, on the back of a below par effort with stamina to prove, Highland Reel is worth taking on. The quickening ground may play against the strengths of Medrano so the nod goes to DISENGO in the hope that the step up to 12 furlongs improves him.
3.10 Goodwood – Qatar Sussex Stakes
Sadly the Sussex Stakes has been robbed of an equine star with the news that Aidan O’Brien’s dual Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner Gleneagles was not declared because of unsuitable ground. As we pointed out yesterday, Goodwood has had plenty of rain in the last week and numerous top horses have missed out. It’s a real shame for all, but understandable.
This means we have a dead eight going to post lead by top French horse Solow.
Freddie Head’s five-year-old has done nothing but improve over the last 12 months, but the classy grey has really upped his game since the turn of the year. He burst on to the Group 1 scene with a fantastic win in the Dubai Turf at Meydan and has since followed up with top-level successes in the Prix d’Ispahan and Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
Fantastic durability, versatility and class have been seen by the big grey horse and he is the correct favourite for this year’s Sussex. The rain that has fallen will only enhance his chance, but there are worries about this speedy and undulating track proving ideal for him.
His biggest danger appears to be Night Of Thunder, last season’s 2000 Guineas winner. After that victory he failed to score again, although he had a tough job beating the likes of Kingman. It was good to see him return to winning ways in this year’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. He got the job done in gritty style despite the sedate pace not suiting him.
We actually fancied him to beat Solow at Royal Ascot last time out, but the ground proved far too quick for the son of Dubawi and he is another who should love the underfoot conditions come Wednesday. On more suitable terrain he is strongly respected.
The ground has also come right for last season’s leading juvenile Belardo. His trainer Roger Varian is a good judge and he still feels his horse can mixed it with the best milers despite a couple of recent mishaps. To be fair, the disappointing efforts in the Champagne Stakes and Greenham were ground related and a reproduction of his excellent Irish 2000 Guineas fourth would have him in the mix here.
Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Arod is one horse in the field the will be inconvenienced by the recent rain. He’s a much better type on quick ground as it suits his style of running nicely. He has a length to make-up with Night Of Thunder on this year’s Lockinge running, where he had the benefit of a prep run and was suited by the race pace at Newbury.
On slower ground he may not be able to turn that form around although the prospects of him getting an easy lead with stamina assured mean he is another we respect.
Andrew Balding’s Here Comes When is a very big price at 33/1 considering he’ll love the underfoot conditions. The problem with him is he is too keen and looks a seven furlong specialist. Cougar Mountain and Bossy Guest don’t look up to this grade quite yet.
The lack of pace makes this contest a little bit tricky. Beraldo ran a fantastic race in the Irish 2000 Guineas, but his hold-up style is not ideal given the lack of early speed. Arod shouldn’t be able to turn the Lockinge form with Night Of Thunder, meaning it’s the latter mentioned and Solow to concentrate on. Given we fancied NIGHT OF THUNDER at Royal Ascot to turn over the hot favourite Solow, we are willing to give him one more chance on more suitable ground. We’d rather back him each-way at the prices with eight in than the favourite at odds-on.
3.45 Goodwood – Fairmont Molecomb Stakes
A juvenile contest over five furlongs, the Molecomb Stakes is all about speed and precocity. Eleven two-year-olds look set to do battle in this year’s running and it looks a race not to get too smart with; those to the head of the betting look to have solid chances of scoring.
Everything about the race favourite King Of Rooks says he will be extremely tough to beat. Having made a nice start in an Ascot maiden two impressive wins at Newbury and Sandown followed, before a poor ride at Royal Ascot scuppered his win progression.
Sent off 11-8 favourite in the Norfolk Stakes an over agresssive ride contributed to his shock defeat. This contest looks easier and he will take all the beating. The only worry would be his wide draw in stall one.
Second-favourite Kachy really caught the eye when scoring on debut at Chester last time out. Despite showing signs of greenness and racing a bit keen, the son of Kyllachy got the job done in impressive style. He showed great pace and that win will have helped his education no end. He’s respected.
Respected too is Godolphin’s Rouleau who won last time out under a big weight in an Ascot nursery. He drops in trip today, but it shouldn’t inconvenience too much given the speed he showed. He is progressing, however, and can run well.
Lathom and Muhadathat need to up their games to score here, but are not totally ruled out while Case Key looks a very big price at 20/1 plus, if you can forgive him his Sandown flop last time out.
Case Key is the race value on the basis of his maiden win, but is hard to recommend on his last run. Rouleau is going the right way, but may just play second fiddle to King Of Rooks and Kachy. The former will be extremely hard to beat, but his wide draw in one means he may race away from the standside rail on his own. That’s not ideal and KACHY is given a chance at a price five times bigger.