Glorious Goodwood 2021- Qatar Goodwood Festival
A frustrating week, the weather didn't help us punters, though I have to say we got lucky with our time at the track and missed the worst of it. I managed to get to the 'pay-out' counter a couple of times each day barring Saturday when I couldn't find a winner for love nor money! I end the week -6.77 to level stakes.
And so, we reach the final day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. The going is good-soft with the chance of some rain during the afternoon. Four days and twenty-nine races in I am 0.23+ to level stakes on what has been a tricky week; can’t believe I missed this shit in lockdown! Anyway, day five here we come, seven races and hopefully a few winners yet. Let’s have it, and be honest, we love it!
It’s an earlier start on Saturday with the first at 1.20 the Thames Materials Handicap over 7f. Quintillus jumped off the page at me when going through the cards at the start of the week but sadly he doesn't run. Just Frank is now the pick off the back of his last run when faring best of those ridden prominently when third at Doncaster. Wears first-time cheekpieces today and hopefully he can hold them off late. I have the 11-2.
At 1.55 it’s the 6f Unibet Stewards' Sprint Handicap (Consolation Race For The Stewards' Cup). Power Over Me has to be considered here due to rise another 7lb in the rating after this the move across the Irish Sea to Robyn Brisland having seen considerable improvement from the four-year-old. Won at Epsom last month but was disqualified weighing in 2lb light. Music Society has been running well and gets in here 4lb lower than when going down by the width of a fag paper at York last time; Due to rise 8lb after this! If the low side of the draw is the place to be (drawn two) the grey has a big chance. It's so hard to know what side you want to be with no really big field sprints so far this week, but single digits aint been a disadvantage as yet. I have the 8-1.
We are up to 1m6f for the Summer Handicap at 2.30. Urban Artist has form in softer conditions the rain that is forecast, if it arrives, will help her chances. Placed efforts in two Listed events and a Group Three in last three starts confirms she remains in form. My Frankel is relatively lightly raced and you would think this step-up in trip will suit; strong finishing third over 1m4f in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock four-weeks ago. In a wide-open affair I am on at 13-2.
Pattern action for the Group Two Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at 3.05. Wonderful Tonight has been odds-on since they chalked-up and she is clear top rated but has to give weight away to the entire field under race conditions. She won the G.2 Hardwicke at the Royal Meeting last month on seasonal reappearance having taken the G.1 Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and 1m6f G.1 Qatar Prix de Royallieu last back end. Further easing in the ground will help and she's the one to beat obviously. Divinely gets 15lb from the jolly and steps-up in trip having last been seen keeping on for second behind the all-conquering Snowfall in G.1 Irish Oaks last time, third behind her stablemate in the Oaks at Epsom. By Galileo out of Red Evie she is a full-sister to Found and six other winners, if she gets the trip, and she might, full-brother Iniesta eventually went jumping, she could give the jolly most to think about. I took 14-1 each-way (1/5 first three) on Friday afternoon as it looked too big to me.
At 3.40 it’s the 6f cavalry charge, the Unibet Stewards’ Cup. As said earlier it's so hard to know what side you want to be with no really big field sprints so far this week, but single digits aint been a disadvantage as yet. Two of the likely frontrunners Major Jumbo and Punchbowl Flyer are drawn low but Ejtilaab who won’t hang about is high! William Haggas may have one in the shape of Hurricane Ivor who ran a big race at Ascot three weeks ago, result suggesting he was on the wrong side, but clear of those drawn low. Drawn pretty much in the middle here and due to rise 3lb he has to be shortlisted. Meraas was jolly last year and you have to think this is probably the target again this year, he has been running okay without setting the world alight since. I have plumped Punchbowl Flyer each-way at 22-1 (1/5 first six) in the hope he might get loose on the front end and be gone before they can drag him back.
The 7f British European Breeders Fund EBF Maiden Stakes at 4.10 is a real puzzle with most of the field making debut. Flying Secret and Khanjar would be expected to benefit from their Ascot run (second and fourth) and have to be shortlisted. Tartan Chief is the pick though with none of the newcomers jumping off the page at me. Third at Haydock and debut and second at Salisbury last time, William Buick in the saddle today is seen as a positive and the son of Dark Angel is expected to make it third time lucky. I have the 7-1.
The lucky last of day five and the week is the 1m1f Signature Apprentice Handicap at 4.45. A few big yards have chucked some darts at this not least Andrew Balding and Mark Johnston. Gary Moore sends The Whipmaster who gets in with bottom weight of 8-3 with Aidan Keeley taking off 7lb. In a wide-open heat a three-year-old with perhaps more to come, off bottom weight with 7lb being taken off the chestnuts back, the gelding is the pick for me. Get on at 9-1.
Day four and it is another mix of Pattern races and handicaps on the Downs at Goodwood. The going is now Good (Good to Soft in places) with the chance of a drop of rain at anytime.
We get underway again at 1.50 with the 2m4½f Unibet 3 Boosts A Day Goodwood Handicap. It’s a case of round and round they go for this one with the race actually starting in front of the stands before they set-off into the Sussex countryside. last year's winner Just Hubert hardly arrives in form but that said mark is now a pound lower than when winning last season so to be considered. Platform Nineteen looked one to keep an eye on before missing the whole of 2000. Won easily despite 648 day break on return to the track at Beverley over two-miles earlier this month. The Grand Visir is consistency personified and will surely be in the shake-up again. He stays and doesn’t mind a little juice in the ground and is the selection at 9-1.
They face a mile at 2.25 for the Group Three Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes. Baaeed will be all the rage having looked potentially top-class when winning a Listed race at Newmarket three weeks ago. The son of Sea The Stars can take this before surely a tilt at a Group One somewhere. 8-13 is no price but he looks unopposable.
We stick to the mile course at 3.00 for the Unibet Golden Mile Handicap. Path Of Thunder has a big chance to my eye here; won nicely at Newmarket last time and the 3lb rise he has for that looks lenient, is due to rise another 5lb in the ratings after this. Hopefully Buick can get him in a nice spot early and he can pick off the leaders down the straight. I have the 15-4.
The race of the day is all about pure speed, with the 5f Group One King George Qatar Stakes taking centre stage at 3.35. Battaash goes for a fifth straight win in this race and is naturally a short price on a track simply is tailor-made for him. I of course swore off ever backing him again a while back and will be taking him on again – just can’t trust him. Dragon Symbol has to enter calculations getting the weight-for-age whilst Liberty Beach is one I have backed each-way a few times and owe me little and she could place-up again. Art Power hasn’t quite reached the heights hoped perhaps so far but goes on the soft and surely has a big race win in him at some point. With the forecast for winds and rain and he is the pick at 13-2 that I took on Thursday afternoon to take the soils if the jolly fluffs his lines.
At 4.10 we have the 1m4f Group Three L'Ormarins Queen's Plate Glorious Stakes. Mogul hasn’t been as good this season as I thought he would be and duly takes a step-down in class for this. He won the G.3 Gordon Stakes over track and trip last year and is fancied to get back to winning ways here. He won’t want it heavy but I took a chance yesterday and took the 5-2 as, as long as it isn’t bottomless, he should have too much for this line-up.
The two-year-olds go over 6f at 4.45 for the Unibet Deposit 10 Get 40 Bonus Nursery. Jadhlaan was up against it in better company last time for the G.2 July Stakes and makes handicap debut here off a mark of 92. That gives the son of Dark Angel a chance for me as having been a little green on his first two starts he won at York in the manor of a good horse before that tilt at Pattern class at HQ. II have the 7-1. Robjon is feared as is Adeb.
They face 1m3f for the 4.20 the TDN Australia Handicap and it’s another tricky race to finish the day. Wink Of An Eye is very much on the upgrade completing the hat-trick with something to spare at Sandown last time. He is up to a mark of 87 now but that still may be workable for the gelding owned by the Queen (gawd bless her). I have the 3-1. Something Enticing looks sure to go well again as does Scampi, Marching Army has to be considered making handicap debut off 87 and the improving Ziggy is also on the shortlist.
A winning day Wednesday down on the Downs and the rain stayed away, happy days. It is Ladies Day on Thursday and we have the Magnolia Cup with the first-time riding lady amateur jockeys racing and aiming to raise over £200,000 for charity – it's no betting heat but a bit of fun entertainment and all for a good cause. As for the bets you can have they follow.
1.50 start again with the 1m2f Unibet '15 To Go' Kincsem Handicap. Patient Dream doesn’t have many miles on the clock and could have more to give yet. Won last time at Windsor last month, and proved that the softer going is not a problem in doing so. Ray Dawson takes off 3lb and he is the pick in the opener at 4-1.
Group Two action at 2.25 with the Unibet Richmond Stakes over six for the two-year-olds. Asymmetric just lost out to Lusail at HQ last time in the G.2 July Stakes and that looks fair form to me. Won on debut over track and trip before winning at Newmarket in decent style. Alan King's charge can mame it three from four here and I have the 5-2. Gubbass looks the danger.
At 3.00 it’s the Group Three 1m4f John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes and it looks a decent heat. Yibir drops back in trip slightly having won the G.3 1m5f Bahrain Trophy Stakes last time, tipped on here. As I said then his second to subsequent Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle and having not beaten far by stablemate and subsequent Derby winner and now KGVI&QE Stakes winner Adayar at Sandown before that, you can’t knock his form! I am on again at 5-1.
Race of the day is the 3.35 Group One 1m2f Qatar Nassau Stakes for the fillies and mares. Another race here that has a pretty impressive roll of honour. Sadly no huge names this year, we don’t have a Love or Snowfall, but it’s still a decent enough race. Audarya sets the standard for me and there was little disgrace in her second to Love at Ascot last time. That was on good-firm that may have been quicker than ideal for her so it really was a good performance. I am on at 15-8. The two Aidan O’Brien three-year-olds have form on soft and are naturally feared getting the weight-for-age. Joan Of Arc is the one some cash has come for.
Two-year-olds again at 4.10 for the 7f Goodwood Racecourse Patrons Nursery. Mayfair Stroll caught the eye trying the seven-furlong trip for the first time at Lingfield last time out going clear in the final furlong. This is a better race but her current mark of 74 give Charlie Hills something to work with, I think. William Buick rides and she is the pick at 15-2.
The 4.45 is the 7f Tatler EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes with next to no form to help us here. Wilderness Girl could prove decent and as Richard Hannon's two-year-olds are in fine form Helene is also considered. Kingdom Girl is the one I have plumped for at the 11-1. Made a promising debut when fifth at Newmarket earlier this month not knocked about. She is by Kingman out of Oshiponga, a dam of eight winners, three 100+ rated, so this filly would be expected to pick up a race or two.
The 5.20 is the 5f World Pool Handicap and it gets no easier here; plenty of form but a number of them are closely matched. Twilight Calls is the obvious place to start but the 8lb rise in the weights for his Newmarket win last time looks harsh and should anchor him for now. Fantasy Master and Whenthedealinsdone are also shortlisted. I have had an each-way punt on A Pint Of Beer at 11-1 (1/5 first four). The consistent grey rarely runs a bad race, mark of 82 isn’t to bad and Kieran Scholfield takes off a handy 3lb. He should be prominent early and as he stays six I would expect to see Schofield try and stretch these from two out.
A slightly mad day one with non-runners galore on going you wouldn’t normally expect. Not too much damage done as I end day one -1.2 to level stakes with a couple of each-way punts collecting. Day two of Glorious Goodwood is the traditional mix of handicaps and top-class action. It is one of my favourite days horse racing of the year and the one day, if I only do one day at this meeting, that I am there trackside with the Group One Sussex Stakes the highlight. I have been lucky enough to be there to see the race won by some pretty good’uns, Frankel, Kingman and Solow, to name just three. My fancies for the day follow up early with overnight prices as I aint fucking about on the train in the morning.
Racing begins again at 1.50 with the 1m4f Unibet "15 To Go" Handicap. You could make a case for nearly half the field here but one that caught my eye early I the entries was Siskany, one I have backed before. I have backed the colt for all three of his victories, I didn’t back him for the King George V Stakes at Ascot but he ran a good race in fourth, perhaps a little unlucky in running. He has form on faster and softer ground and running style should suit round here. I am on at 5-1.
The Group Three Whispering Angel Oak Tree Stakes over 7f is at 2.25 and as the betting suggests this is a pretty wide-open affair. I think the weight-for-age allowance could prove significant here. Sacred was on my mind but she doesn't run. Vadream gets the full 7lb allowance and has been running well in defeat all season so has to be shortlisted. She actually finished one place ahead of Sacred in the 1,000 Guineas and gets the full allowance here under then race conditions. The big concern is the hold-up style of running which could see her finding problems late-on, and you know Spencer will hold on to her, how many times you seen him do it. It would have been a flip of a coin decision between the two so I have backed Vadream at the 6-1 with, I think, the weight-for-age. going and trip in her favour.
Pattern action again at 3.00 for the Group Three Markel Molecomb Stakes over 5f for the two-year-olds. Fearby is two from three and looked smart winning at Sandown last time in the Listed Dragon Stakes on soft going five lengths clear of the reopposing Mojomaker. I took the 5-2 on Tuesday morning. Soft ground is surely a worry for Windsor Castle winner Chipotle as well as Boonie and Armor who were behind him at Ascot.
At 3.35 it is the Group One Qatar Sussex Stakes. With Palace Pier missing from the race due to a blood disorder some of the sheen is naturally taken off what is usually marketed as the Duel on the Downs with the three-year-olds taking on the older generation. Of the older generation this year Order Of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez are fair horses but not world-beaters and it’s a big ask to give the weight-for-age to the three-year-olds of 8lb to the colts and 11lb to the fillies. Poetic Flare is the obvious place to start now the three-year-old apparently thriving for his hectic schedule thus far this season. I wonder though if his exertions so far this year will take their toll eventually? He is odds-on for good reason on all known form but ran his worst race of the season on very soft in France tough followed that up just getting chinned in the Irish Guineas on soft-heavy. Alcohol Free likes to be up the pointed end and in fact tried to make every yard at HQ in the G.1 Falmouth Stakes last time only to lost out late on. Those tactics are no bad thing round here and I would expect Oisin to try the same again. Her win in the G.1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot was on heavy which surprised me but shows the going holds no fears. Snow Lantern won the Falmouth picking them off late reversing the form of the G.1 Coronation Stakes with Alcohol Free – these two are clearly closely matched. I have plumped for Alcohol Free to nick it from the front and have 5-1.
The 4.10 is the 5f British Stallion Studs Alice Keppel EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes for the two-year-olds. Flotus won here on debut on soft going over six and has been tried in Group company since; fading out of it in the 6f G.2 British Stallion Studs Alice Keppel EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes last time. The drop in class and trip could help. I have the 100-30. Canonized won over track and trip and has been in fine fettle so is feared.
The 4.45 is the 1m2f British Ebf Premier Fillies' Handicap. Freyja is a fair type but it looks a big ask to carry top-weight here with a few that may progress passed her. Percy's Pride is in form and may have more to give yet and Timeless Soul is an unexposed type. Achelois has looked to appreciate the longer trips she has run over lately and it looks likely to me she’ll have more to come now stepping up in trip again. She has a bit of form on softer going as well with the Balding yard in form. She is a tentative pick at 15-8.
The lucky last on day two is the 7f World Pool Handicap and it’s another puzzle. Epic Endeavour won’t mind it soft under hoof and front running style as I have mentioned before this week is no bad thing here in races like this. The drop back down to seven surely going to suit, cheek pieces go on for the first time and he is the each-way punt for this at 10-1 (1/5 first five). Wide draw is a concern but he should be able to get over. Sunset Breeze and Fox Champion are feared at the top of the weights whilst C&D winner Tintoretto is also shortlisted.
Day one down on the Downs and as it stands the weather looks a bit damp with showers forecast; the going is heavy soft in places. It’s an eight-race card, I wish they would stop slipping extra races in at these meetings, this week is tough enough with the seven race cards – at least it’s only today I suppose.
We get underway at 1.50 with the 1m2f Unibet "You'Re On" Chesterfield Cup Handicap. Johnny Drama advertised his wellbeing winning the John Smith's Cup at York earlier this month but off his new mark it would require a Turf career best to win this. Maydanny made all from low draw in this last season to win and similar tactics can be expected again. 12 lb higher now but ran well at Sandown second earlier this month and has to be shortlisted. Cockalorum was second to Johnny Drama in the John Smith's Cup at York and has form on soft which is what you want on Tuesday. Another that would require a career best but he is in fine form and likes to race up with the pace which is an advantage here especially in bigger fields. At 12-1 this morning he is an each-way (1/5 first six) punt in the opener.
The two-year-olds are out at 2.25 for the Group Two 7f Unibet Vintage Stakes and some decent ones have won this in recent times. Lusail aint done much wrong so far in his career, one defeat was at Pontefract when perhaps given too much to do late on over six behind Angel Bleu. He won over 7f at HQ on good-soft after that, made all, and showed some guts to win over six in the G.2 July Stakes back down to six last time. I have the 9-4 I took on Monday. Berkshire Shadow won the G.2 Coventry Stakes, perhaps benefited from being up the near-side rail, but is the danger.
At 3.00 we stick to the 7f trip but with the older horses for the Group Two Qatar Lennox Stakes. Last year's winner, Space Blues is back for more unsurprisingly. I tipped him last year and said in the Dirty Dozen editorial at the start of this season a similar campaign must be planned so it is no surprise to me the chestnut five-year-old lines-up again. Ninth when last seen in the G.1 6f Al Quoz Sprint he had won the 7f 1351 Turf Sprint at Riyadh before that and this intermediate trip is his game. He has to be the one for me and I have 5-2 early with Power. The going is my biggest concern. Stable-companion Creative Force getting the weight-for-age is feared most and should make it an Appleby one-two.
Top-drawer action at 3.35 for the Group One 2m Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup Stakes. Stradivarius has shown chinks in the armour of late but there were excuses at Ascot when he was denied a clear run (not sure how big a difference that made) and Dettori was certainly very gentle on him once his winning chance had gone. He remains the one to beat in and he is going for the 5-timer in this race! You are taking a slight leap of faith that he is as good as he was but at 5-4 on Monday I was prepared to do that. He has drifted a little since. Spanish Mission and Trueshan look the main threats, the latter have form on the going, but they don’t beat an on-form Stradivarius. I thought Santiago might turn into a decent stayer, he hasn't yet, but might run a big race on the going two of his three wins being on soft.
We are over the five furlong strip at 4.10 for the Back To Goodwood Handicap. Half the field have a chance in a proper Goodwood head scratcher handicap. Jabbarockie started the season in fine form winning 5f handicaps at Musselburgh and Chester before finding the step-up to G.2 company and probably the heavy going to much in the Temple Stakes at Haydock. He has every chance back in handicap company. King Of Stars is consistent and should be there or thereabouts but a mark of 92 is a career high. El Astronaute isn’t perhaps as good as he was but has to be considered. I have plumped for Desert Safari at an each-way price of 14-1 (1/5 first five) who has dropped back down to a winning mark of 96 and that win came over this track and trip. He has some placed form on similar ground to today and a big run is anticipated.
A tricky maiden at 4.45 for the 6f British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes. Anything sired by Dark Angel that top-class two-year-old and leading sire of juveniles and sprinters is worth a second look in a race like this and his son Dangerous Rascal lines-up. Out of Pastoral Girl, a winning sprinter herself, his full-brother Rhythm Master won on debut at two suggesting this one should be all about precocious speed; cost £100,000 at the breeze-up sales. James Doyle rides for Tom Ward, who’s yard is in fair form, so the grey is the pick at 17-2.
At 5.20 it’s the Unibet Fillies' Handicap over a mile. A couple came out of this on Monday but it’s still a tricky little heat and the going is somewhat an unknown for most of them. Ananya was a decent two-year-old in the car of Chapple-Hyam but aint been seen in 655 days; if Sir Mark Prescott has her right on her first start for the yard she would go close but it’s a long absence. Pomelo looks a fair filly in her two wins but her two defeats came on soft and heavy. Riknnah drops down a rung in class having been beaten at HQ last time and has a chance whilst Anghaam is expected to run her usual race. Urban Violet is the one that won’t mind any rain, her wins coming on soft and heavy, and she run a big race over a mile in the Sandringham Stakes at Ascot on heavy before finishing third in a handicap at Ripon over 1m2f last time. She is the tentative pick with conditions to suit at 3-1.
The lucky last on a long day one is at 5.50 the 6f World Pool Ebf Fillies' Handicap. A couple came out on Monday here as well. Gellhorn looked to have a bit left in the tank when beating Lovely Breeze at Newmarket last time and the 4lb rise in the weights doesn’t look too harsh. Ran plenty of times on softer surfaces when in France so this bit of juice in the ground wouldn’t appear to be an issue. I have the 9-4. Caroline Dale is considered the danger.
With five days of thrilling action set against the magnificent backdrop of the rolling Sussex countryside, The Qatar Goodwood Festival – Glorious Goodwood to you and me – is one of the highlights of the flat-racing season as far as I am concerned. There is always a lovely atmosphere at what is without doubt one of the most beautiful tracks in the country with fantastic views across the Sussex Downs. There are few places in the world I would rather be in the middle of the British summertime than looking out across the Downs as top-class thoroughbred horses go racing by – and this year we actually get to be there again.