Glorious Goodwood Kicks Off
We’ve got five days of glorious racing at Goodwood ahead. Jam packed with top-class graded action and competitive, valuable handicaps, we’ll be previewing the best of the action each day.
2.35 Goodwood – Qatar Vintage Stakes
Nine horses have been declared for this Group 2 contest, but only eight look set to do battle with the late defection of Aidan O’Brien’s Air Vice Marshall. This is due to the ground, as Goodwood have had quite a bit of rain over the last four to five days. This will blunt speed of the real class horses and bring stamina into play.
An ability to stay will be needed in this year’s Vintage Stakes with an abundance of early pace potentially on. There will be no hiding place here and it may be a case of grit and determination coming to the fore.
Godolphin have entered two juveniles from different stables and their charges head the market. Birchwood, a fairly recent purchase from the Richard Fahey yard is just favourite at the time of writing. A son of Dark Angel and still in the care of Fahey, he has done little wrong this year wining three of his four races.
His one blimp came in Ireland and that is now forgiven after his Group 2 Superlative Stakes victory at Newmarket. He runs on slower terrain this time round, however, and on a more stamina demanding track. He must also carry a three pounds penalty so it’s a tall task for him to win, despite being favourite.
It’s not impossible, however, and should he enter the winner’s enclosure, it will be obvious we have a serious horse on our hands.
Strong Challenge, the other Godolphin entry, is in the care of Saeed Bin Suroor and is a horse we have an awful lot of time for. His opening two runs now look excellent efforts and class is not in question. Our big worry is him seeing out the trip.
It’s a surprise connections are stepping him up to seven furlongs this early in his career especially given the speed he has shown. There is pace in his pedigree and on soft ground is passed over with stamina doubts.
Fresh from a Classic success in the Irish Oaks last weekend, Hugo Palmer saddles the improving Galileo Gold. He’s a nice horse and is not dismissed for his new owners Al Shaqab Racing, but he’s been described as a weak type and he may not be up to this class at this moment in his career.
Palawan and Welford look out of their depth in comparison to some and the ones we want to concentrate on are Beaverbrook, Ibn Malik and Twin Sails.
There isn’t a whole lot between Ibn Malik and Twin Sails through a horse called John Splendid, who both have beaten, but the former is nearly twice the price. Quite simply, that down to his less well-known trainer Dean Ivory, who wouldn’t be among the star names in the Great British training fraternity.
That said, however, he looks to have a nice horse on his hands here. A son of Sir Percy, he is now two from two and looks a gritty, no nonsense performer. Like many in here, the ground is a worry, but his tough attitude should help with this regard.
Ibn Malik looks a very useful prospect based on his debut win. A son of Ravens Pass, he showed signs of greenness when winning first time up, but it didn’t stop him from scoring. The ground may just be too soft for him to show his best, however, and at a bigger price Twin Sails is preferred of the two.
Mark Johnston has a fine record at this meeting and his Beaverbrook can not be totally dismissed despite being 12/1. He is a big, powerful son of Cape Cross and looks better equipped than most to handle the ground.
An intriguing juvenile contest with an awful lot of early pace on. This may suit the hold-up horses best and we feel TWIN SAILS is the value bet in an open race.
3.10 Goodwood – Qatar Lennox Stakes
The recent rain around Goodwood means we have another early casualty in the Lennox Stakes, Henry Candy’s exciting young sprinter Limato won’t be testing his stamina over seven furlongs for the first time. Either will Kevin Ryan’s Glory Awaits go to post, who is another absentee, leaving a field of eight.
The undoubted class horse of the race and current favourite is Toormore who will be running in the colours of Godolphin for the first time. The rain that has fallen will be a huge boast to his chances and very much needed given he drops back to seven furlongs again.
On form, he is the right favourite, but he has never instilled much confidence in his followers and it’s been over a year since his last win. To be fair, he has been mixing it with some of the top milers around.
This is his easiest assignment for a while, but at the prices (circa 9/4) we will take him on. His saving grace may be getting an uncontested lead in the hands of the excellent James Doyle.
Royal Ascot and Jersey Stakes winner Dutch Connection is next in the betting. Charlie Hills’s charge really impressed with his victory – while carrying a penalty – at the Royal meeting and further enhanced his record with a gallant second in Prix Jean Prat next time out.
That was a Group 1 and he now drops in grade to a Group 2, meaning he is very dangerous and one we respect. The drop to seven furlongs is also a bonus as he looks a seven furlongs specialist. The problem lies in the going given he is a proper fast ground horse and may come unstuck in the softer terrain. At 5/2, he looks a little skinny given the ground doubts.
The Timeform Jury Stakes second and third, Ascription and Absolutely So, will met again here and they are two more horses, at fairly biggish prices, to consider. Only half-a-length separated them at Haydock and given we are set to get similar ground here at Goodwood, both should run well.
While finishing ahead on that occasion, it’s still a little surprising to see Ascription so much bigger than his Haydock rival in the betting. Ian Balding’s Absolutely So was making his seasonal debut, where Hugo Palmer’s inmate came in with a run under his belt and so, the latter may be able to improve past him.
There will be little between them again, and given there is a lack of pace in the race, circumstances may just favour Absolutely So to turn the tables. At the prices gets the nod of the two.
Of the rest, Safety Check makes his seasonal debut with a penalty and is passed over on soft ground. Aeolus will love the underfoot conditions, but has yet to prove himself over seven furlongs in this company while Tupi has been in great form, but is yet another who the rain has dented his chance.
With Toormore not being the most reliable in terms of winning we are willing to take him on at the prices. If Dutch Connection handles the ground, he is the most likely winner, but it’s too much of a risk to back him at 5/2.
His hold-up style in a race lacking pace is also a worry, the same can be said about Ascription. With ABSOLUTELY SO sure to go on the ground and be in the firing line early, he gets our nod.