Glorious Goodwood 2020- Qatar Goodwood Festival
I finish a rather weird and very long week -4.9 to level stakes. Lovely to have a few days with nothing but horse racing to worry about but i am already looking forward to next year, a more normal card and actually being there rather than watching on TV!
It’s a later start on Saturday on the Downs as they get underway at 1.50 and we are back to the more traditional seven-race card. For some reason the race planners have just the one Pattern race on the final day? Madness. But that’s what we got a Group Two and plenty of handicaps. I also have two fancies away from the Glorious meeting.
First things first and away from Goodwood. Danilova was on my radar for the two-year-old heats at the Glorious meeting but goes instead at HQ in the 7f MansionBet Beaten By A Head EBF Stallions Fillies' Novice Stakes at 12.20. Take note and get on, I have 7-4 overnight.. Second on debut to a stable-mate, she was green and not knocked about by Kirby when her chance had gone. Well related she is a sister to 1m2f Listed winner Skiffle and can take this.
I had Ghostwatch pencilled in for Goodwood but instead he is over the Channel in France for the 1m7f Listed Prix du Carrousel at Deauville due off at 1.00. He is my second early away day punt at 13-8.
And so, to Goodwood and first up at 1.50 is the 6f Unibet Stewards' Sprint Handicap. Rewaayat was impressive at Salisbury three weeks ago and could well have more to offer yet. He’ll need to have as he is up 12lb for that win. 2018 winner Tommy G, third last year, has dropped to a workable mark and on the pick of his form would be well in here. The word firm in the going is seen as another plus and Jim Goldie would no doubt have had this race in mind for a while again. The seven-year-old is worth a punt, I missed prices like 7’s and took 4-1 overnight.
At 2.25 it’s the 1m6f Unibet Summer Handicap. Ghostwatch was going to be the pick here but as mentioned above he goes to Deauville. The snips were reached for with Laafy over the winter and it would appear it has duly concentrated his mind. The four-year-old won on his reappearance at Newbury and was then second in a decent looking Old Newton Cup at Haydock last time. He will stay and has won on all types of going. I have the 11-4.
Group Two action at 3.00 with the 1m6f Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes. This isn’t perhaps the best Group Two line-up you will ever see and Enbihaar can win again having taken this last year. The mare has the best form by some way to my eyes in the line-up and is pretty consistent type. I grabbed the 11-10 on Friday.
At 3.35 we have the 6f Unibet Stewards' Cup a good old fashion cavalry charge up the straight track. I could make a case for several. Nahaar has been running well and has obvious claims of a career hight mark. Second to that horse last time and 7lb better off at the weights with him today Watan has been pitched into some decent races in the past, clearly connections think he is decent. Lightly raced for a four-year-old hopefully he can come on for that run at Newbury and again having missed prices like 16-1 I am on at 9-1 overnight.
The Qatar Handicap over seven at 4.10 is another of those Goodwood puzzles. Society Lion was a non-runner earlier in the week and comes for this. Beaten a neck at Doncaster last time the colt could still be ahead of his mark despite a rise for that defeat and is the selection at 7-4 again overnight with the price shrinking. Cold Front is the danger but I think Society Lion can pick him off late.
We stick to 7f for the British European Breeders Fund EBF Maiden Stakes at 4.40. Some well-bred two-year-olds here and again not a lot of form to help us. Longlai was second on debut to Seventh Kingdom who went on to place-up in the G.2 Superlative Stakes giving that form a nice look. A Shalaa colt out of Listed French winner Mojo Risin this is the sort of race he may be capable of winning. He is a tentative pick and I have taken the 15-2.
The lucky last of the week, the 5.10 1m1f LG Signature Apprentice Handicap. What I have seen of Kuwait Shield suggests the step-up in trip for a mile will suit. Yard is in okay form and in Gabriele Malune the chestnut gelding has a fair partner for a race such as this. Has form on good-firm and he is the one for me in a tricky closing race at 12-1.
I go into day four -3.5 points to level stakes, not great but there have been some funny results - Junkanoo anyone?! There's a long way to go yet, it's another eight races on Friday, it really is a long week this year. We do have four Group races to get stuck into Friday and I am feeling confident of a few winners. The sun will be blazing down today and the ground on the quick side.
We get underway at 1.10 with the 1m3f TDN Australia Handicap. Al Qaqqa got off the mark at Newmarket last time winning by 8 lengths from Moomba. Opening handicap mark of 88 doesn’t look harsh and with the yard and jockey in form he has a big chance. I am on at 7-4. Mafia Power has gone up 11lb for his win at Haydock and that might prove a pound or two too much.
At 1.45 the Fillies & Mares line-up for the Group Three 7f Saint Clair Oak Tree Stakes. Final Song drops down in class and he chances improve for that but she has got in the habit of running well and not winning. One Master had obvious claims also dropping into calmer waters but I think she wants to get her toe-in to be at her best. Grey Althiqa trained by Charlie Appleby has three wins in four runs, and she must have a chance here stepping up in class. I took her on in a Listed heat at Deauville last time and regretted it. She’ll need to improve again but after just four runs should and I have the 7-1.
They face a mile for the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at 2.15. There were some nice types entered for this and it looked a decent race but it has come down to just four runners. Khaloosy is rated at least 6lb above the rest of the field and is hard to oppose. Looked good when winning the Britannia Stakes at Ascot (soft) and perhaps the underfoot conditions are the major concern. I have the 8-13. My Oberon and Tilsit step-up following Novice Stakes wins and might at least make a race of it.
It’s the same course at 2.45 for the Unibet Golden Mile Handicap but this time fifteen go to post and it looks wide-open. Prompting arrives in rude health and is due to rise a further 6lb after this so good be well in here. Stall two is no bad thing and being open to further improvement yet the four-year-old is fancied to land his hat-trick bid. I have the 7-2. Sir Busker and Cliffs Of Capri are others on the shortlist.
The £300,000 5f Group Two King George Stakes at 3.15 is all about speed and has been won for the last three years by Battaash. He clearly likes it here and is once again the one to beat but my distrust of the six-year-old is well known and you know he will get turned over at odds-on at some point – he just does every season. I cannot back him at long odds-on. I have talked of Liberty Beach before and backed her at the Royal meeting in the G.1 King’s Stand Stakes when third to the jolly. She won the Molecomb Stakes here last year and as I have said before if the favourite blows up, she is the one to pick-up the pieces. I have the 6-1 each-way.
At 3.45 it’s the Group 31m4f L'Ormarins Queen's Plate Glorious Stakes. Another good field here with several in with chances. Communique had Desert Encounter (third) and Alounak (fifth) behind him when second in G.2 company at Newmarket's July meeting. The chestnuts best form is on ground with firm in the description and he can gain his first success of the season here at 5-2.
Next at 4.20 we have the 6f New Unibet Instant Roulette Nursery Handicap. Zamaani was beaten by Twaasol at Windsor in June, which now looks fair form, and won as he liked there earlier this month confirming he has some talent and is on the upgrade. Has top-weight to shoulder but could be the potential Group horse in the field. I am on at 6-4. Julie Johnston is the danger but I think the selection can pick off the likely front-runner late.
The curtain comes down on day four with the 4.55 6f British European Breeders Fund EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes. Next to no form to go on here other than the Godolphin owned Sarsaparilla. Perhaps unlucky to come up against a couple of potentially decent ones on her last two starts (Fly Miss Helen and Basilicata – runs here Saturday). A half-sister to four winners they must want to get a win against her name and she can finally do it. I have the 5-2. Strong market support for one of the newcomers would be a concern.
Thursday:The prestigious Group One Qatar Nassau Stakes is the highlight of the eight-race card Thursday that includes plenty of two-year-old action. The sun is out and hopefully we have a winner or two to pay for some Pimms.
The opener at 1.10 is the 5f Mirabeau En Provence Handicap. Bal Mal has won five of his seven starts in 2020 going from a rating of 51-79; surely the handicapper has him now? Electric Ladyland is a track and trip winner and I would expect to see Hollie Doyle bounce her out and her early speed to good use. She is the pick at 9-2 in a tight race.
At 1.45 it is the 1m2f Unibet You're On Handicap. Magical Morning had a good June winning two from two but was found wanting stepped up to Listed class at HQ last time and a mark of 99 looks high enough. Bright Melody raced a little keenly and had to make a move very wide in the 1m4f King George V Stakes at Ascot before he ran out of petrol in the run-in. Dropped back to 1m2f for the Ridgway Listed Stakes at Longchamp last time he was beaten less than a length. The Dubawi gelding might be the answer to this puzzle at 10-1.
At 2.15 the two-year-olds go over 6f for the Group Two Qatar Richmond Stakes. Yazaman has finished second to Tactical the last twice (Listed Windsor Castle and G.2 July Stakes) and connections must be glad the Queen hasn’t sent her horse to the Downs. It is arguably the best from on show and I am on at 7-4. Qaader was fourth in the July Stakes and looks held by the favourite. Admiral Nelson run a shocker in the Coventry Stakes and is surely better than that effort whilst Army Of India was even further behind in that and dropped back to class 5 for a confidence booster last time.
Next is the 1m4f Group Three John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes at 2.45. My Derby punt English King runs and surely can get back to winning ways. Impressive winner of the Listed Lingfield Derby Trial he wasn’t the only one caught out by Serpentine going clear and I am prepared to give him a second chance. I am on at 5-4. Mogul re-opposes and is feared as I am sure he will turn out decent, but might be one for next season now.
The main even is at 3.15 the 1m2f Group One Qatar Nassau Stakes and this is a cracking little race. Nazeef keeps on improving and won the G.1 Falmouth Stakes last time but gives the younger generation weight here which looks a big ask. Tawkeel remains unbeaten after four starts winning the G.1 Saxon Warrior Coolmore Prix Saint Alary when last seen and the French raider is a danger. I tipped Fancy Blue for the Irish 1,000 where she was unlucky in running, closest at the finish, and then took her on with Alpine Star (mistake) when she won the 1m2f Group One Prix de Diane Longines. This looks here trip and I am back with her for this at 9-4.
It’s the tricky looking 7f Gusbourne Nursery Handicap at 3.45. Running Back has two seconds to his name and might finally get off the mark here. Just held at Kempton last time his debut second to Qadaar looks decent form when you think the races that horse has been competing in - see Richmond Stakes earlier. Get on at 9-2.
At 4.20 we have the 7f British European Breeders Fund EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes and another batch of two-year-olds. I had two shortlisted for this from the entries and neither run! Miss Chess is a half-sister to French Oaks winner Fancy Blue – who will hopefully have added the Nassau Stakes to her victories by the time they run here. Held up last of all on debut she picked up nicely weaving through the pack to be finish third beaten only half a length. Sure to progress she can win this at the 5-1.
The lucky last on day three at 4.55 is the 5f Tatler Nursery Handicap and it’s two-year-olds again. Different Face was second to Yazaman on debut and hopefully that form will have been further franked earlier on the card. Won on second start at Lingfield nicely enough and front running style won’t hurt here. William Buick being booked to ride nice and early is also seen as a plus. At 15-2 I am taking on the jolly. Winter Power will be odds-on having been an impressive winner at Redcar earlier this week. If going like that again obvious chances, but will she?
Day two of Glorious Goodwood is the traditional mix of handicaps and top-class action. It is one of my favourite days racing and the one day, if I only do one day at this meeting, that I am there trackside with the £1million 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 but sadly, I won't be on the Downs this year. I have a strong fancy nonetheless.
We start again at 1.10 and it’s the 1m2f British European Breeders Fund EBF Fillies' Handicap. Nkosikazi has obvious chances but gives away a lot of weight under the race conditions. I put up Lake Lucerne as a speculative punt for the G.3 Musidora earlier this month where she was beaten. That looked hopeful and the drop back into handicap company can see her back to winning ways. As I said earlier his month she was green as grass and edging left from a long way out at Chelmsford in March but still won and if she has learnt a little and matured, she could have a lot more to come yet. Get on at 6-1.
At 1.45 it is the 2m4½f Unibet You'Re On 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. Coeur de Lion won at Ascot and has a chance only 3lb higher in the ratings here. The grey from the Paul Nicholls yard intrigues me, Oleg. Hollie Doyle rides the five-year-old who won at Pontefract last month and might be the answer to this puzzle. Nicholls doesn’t send many here, never actually had a winner at the track, but I think they can nick this. Get on at the 7-1.
The 1m4f Unibet 3 Boosts A Day Handicap at 2.15 is an open-affair despite just the 11 runners. Enchiper was tried in the 1m2f G.2 Dante earlier this month but should be much more at home at this level. The drop in class and step-up in trip might do him the world of good but he is drawn highest of all so hopefully Dettori can bounce him out and get a decent plot. I bet last night and advice you get on at 9-1 and hold your breath at the start.
The two-year-old speedballs are out for the 5f Group Three Molecomb Stakes at 2.45. Steel Bull won on debut at Naas and would be a lot shorter if coming over from Ballydoyle rather than the yard of Michael O’Callaghan. He dwelt at the start that day but travelled well, went through the gap when asked and won comfortably suggesting he might be half-decent if getting it all right on the day. I am on at 4-1 overnight. Significantly has three seconds next to his name and might add a fourth.
The main event, arguably of the week is the Group One mile Qatar Sussex Stakes at 3.15. It is another cracking renewal. Circus Maximus did me a favour winning the G.1 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot but has to give the three-year-olds 8lb here and as tough as he is that is quite an ask. Mohaather was well beaten, perhaps unlucky in running, in the G.1 Queen Anne but was very impressive back at Ascot in the G.2 Summer Mile earlier this month. 2,000 Guineas winner Kameko has to be considered but the form of the Newmarket race is fair rather than spectacular. That leaves Siskin. Unbeaten having won the Irish 2,000 Guineas in June he has drifted in the betting slightly in recent days and as good as he looked that day the rest haven’t come out and done much since; few fair runs in defeat. With the ability to put in a sprint finish, the weight-for-age and potential to progress still he is a tentative pick. I liked the way he pushed his way out when boxed in at the Curragh as well which won’t hurt here if it gets tight. I have the 2-1.
At 3.45 we have the 5f British Stallion Studs Alice Keppel EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes. Spright drops down in trip have won well over six at York and might find things happening quickly here on this fast-downhill strip. Miss Jingles won over five at Sandown on her second start and looks the one for me. By Exceed and Excel out of Veil Of Silence she is a sister to Sound Of Silence and Silent Bullet both decent juvenile winners. At 7-2 she is fancied to have too much speed for this line-up.
At 4.20 the 7f Theo Fennell Handicap brings the curtain down on day two. Society Lion has been beaten favourite on both starts this season and that’s not the sort of form you like to read. Similar comments apply to Mottrib who has been beaten at short odds the last twice. Mountain Brave has been improving with every run and despite a 6lb penalty for his Windsor win has to be shortlisted – second that day won next time out to frank form. I tipped a Johnston one in the last on Tuesday (foruth) and you know this one will be trying though the draw concerns me. Joe Fanning will have to get him out sharp and get across and hopefully he can as I am on at 10-1.
So, as if Glorious Goodwood wasn’t tough enough for us punters with a plethora of tricky handicaps, they have chucked in a few extra races to boot! Cheers BHA!!!! Day one is one of those days with an eight-race card. There is every chance of rain on Monday evening, with the going good, good-to-soft in places. Tuesday should be dry if cloudy with the sun expected to shine for the rest of the week.
They get underway at 1.10 with the mile Unibet EBF Fillies' Handicap. Wasaayef has to be on the shortlist but a lack of a run since September is a concern. Vividly, a 7f winner here as a 2yo last season, was considered good enough for a tilt at the G.3 Oh So Sharp Stakes at the end of the season, well beaten. Held up and a bit keen early on her comeback at Ascot last month she went left then right then further right still looking for a run before running into fifth in a race in which those at the front stayed there. Hopefully she’ll be ridden a bit more prominently in this, as she was when winning here last year, and Buick in the saddle is seen as a positive. Comes for this rather than the 1m2f handicap on Thursday and she is the pick in a tricky heat at 10-1.
At 1.45 its the 1m2f Unibet You're On Handicap. Derevo has a chance but is hampered by a wide draw and he will need some luck in running you would think. Red October is also out wide and will be trying to get over early you would think to front-run, if he doesn’t use too much energy early, he will be there or thereabouts. Yuri Gagarin drops back in trip having been beaten last time having to race wide and not perhaps quite getting the trip over the 1m4f on softish ground at HQ. He had won over a mile on his belated debut at Newcastle in December and won nicely over 1m3f at Kempton on his second racetrack start in June. The draw could have been kinder to him as well but this easier 1m2f here could prove ideal for the lightly raced 4yo chestnut trained by John Gosden and I have taken a punt at 10-1.
They face 7f at 2.15 for the Group Two Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes with the two-year-olds taking centre stage. Listed Chesham Stakes winner Battleground is bred to be good and looked a potential star when scoring at Royal Ascot last month. On what little we know of these he is the obvious pick and I am on at 5-4.
We stick to the 7f trip at 2.45 for the Group Two Qatar Lennox Stakes for the older horses. Dirty Dozen member Space Blues was in cracking form last month winning twice, at Haydock then at Longchamp, and the much travelled four-year-old should notch-up a hat-trick here. I said in the Dirty Dozen article at the start of the season He will be winning big races this season and something like the Lennox Stakes must be on the agenda so time to prove me right! I am on at 3-1.
The Tuesday highlight is the Group One Qatar Goodwood Cup over 2m at 3.15. Stradivarius won an unprecedented third consecutive title in 2019 and following his demolition of the Gold Cup field at Ascot last month it’s a brave man that bets against him making it four surely, or is it? The Champ is unbackable odds-on and there might be one that can give him a race anyway. Before winning the Irish Derby Santiago won the 1m6f Vase at Royal Ascot, as did Stradivarius as a three-year-old before coming here to win his first Goodwood Cup getting 13lb from Big Orange as a three-year-old. The Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old will be getting 15lb from the Champ this year by virtue of the fact the race is run ahead of the reduction in the weight-for-age scale on 1st August - that’s is a lot of weight! At 5-2 he is short enough, the Bookies clearly aint taking any chances.
At 3.45 we are on the 5f strip for the Qatar Handicap. There are a few in here that don’t hang about and on this strip, this will be a fast race. Acclaim The Nation is one that will be out the stalls like a scalded cat but he has never won off a mark above 84 and has been picked off late his last few runs. Celsius will be one looking to come through late and if they charge off, he might pick them all up but will need the breaks. One that can lead or sit just off it is Recon Mission and that tactical manoeuvrability might prove vital. Back down to a winning mark of 97 he is the tentative pick at a stand-out 8-1 with Paddy Power Monday lunchtime in a tricky affair.
At 4.20 it’s 6f for the British European Breeders Fund EBF Maiden Stakes with hardly a piece of form to work with. I wouldn’t blame you if you reached for the crystal ball for this race! None of the four that have run looked potential world beaters so it might pay to take a punt on a newcomer. Of the five debutants the one that catches my eye is Skibo Castle. By top class 2yo sprinter Shalaa (won Prix Morny and Middle Park) out of G.3 6f winning mare Noelani he is bred for this. Yard has a 26% strike-rate with two-year-olds this year and all being well this one will be raring to go. I have taken 10-1 again with Paddy Power hopefully making a mistake.
The lucky last on day one is at 4.55 the 1m4f British European Breeders Fund EBF Fillies' Handicap. Tulip Fields has gone well here before, won over 1m2f in June, and takes a step down into calmer water again having been tried in Listed class last time. The yard loves a handicap winner here and she is fancied to be a little too good for this line-up. I am on at 7-2.
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. This is one of my favourite meetings of the year with five days of racing though it appears they have tagged-on a few extra races this year with a few days now eight-race cards!!
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; not for me this year, or you probably, but we can always have a Gin & Tonic in our back gardens between races on the TV.
The meeting has been approved by the government as a pilot event for the re-admittance of spectators to live sport on Saturday 1st August but the crowd is limited to just 5,000, which I believe will be 4,000 annual members plus owners, trainers and officials; at least there will be spectators!
I showed a profit last year of +7.02 to level stakes, hopefully it will be another profitable few days.