my thoughts and bets for day 4 at goodwood

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my thoughts and bets for day 4 at goodwood

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1:55 Coutts Glorious Stakes

This Group 3 race over 1m4f for older horses was run as a handicap until 2008 so there aren’t any real trends to speak of. That said, Luca Cumani has won it twice since the upgrade and five times when it was a handicap so it is no surprise to see that he has a representative here in Quest For Peace who makes his seasonal debut. In fact, Quest For Peace made all to beat Dandino in this race two years ago and then followed up here again three weeks later prior to finishing fifth in the Melbourne Cup so he clearly enjoys Goodwood’s twists and undulations. He left Cumani the following season to be trained in Australia which didn’t work out well failing to place in all seven starts but he is now back in Newmarket so it’s a question of whether (a) Cumani has got him back to his best (b) whether he is fit enough first time out to win and (c) is he good enough even if he is back to his best? You can certainly be forgiven for thinking that those three question marks are too big to take the risk.

The main talking point about this season’s renewal however is the return of the 2012 St Leger winner, Encke, who has not run since he beat the Triple-Crown chasing Camelot at Doncaster after been banned from racing for much of that absence having been one of the Mahmoud Al Zarooni-trained horses found to have a prohibitive substance in his system. Debate will rage whether that prohibited substance improved him sufficiently to win the St Leger as it was a leap forward on his previous runs but, even if we ignore that Classic victory, he still comes here with a strong form chance judged on placed efforts in the Gordon Stakes when beaten a nose by Noble Mission (the winner has improved notably since then) and third in the Great Voltigeur. Encke was rated 112 heading into the St Leger (and 120 after it) and 112 only puts him only 1lb below the top-rated Hillstar here alongside Pether’s Moon and Songcraft. I suspect, however, that Encke will need this run to put him spot on for bigger prizes later in the season so they view this as a stepping stone.

Hillstar and Pether’s Moon finished second and third respectively in both the Hardwicke Stakes and Princess Of Wales’s Stakes with more than half a length between them both times so there is very little between them. I fancied Pether’s Moon to reverse Royal Ascot placings with Hillstar at Newmarket as felt that the runner-up to Telescope in the Hardwicke picked up the pieces in finishing second whereas Pether’s Moon lost second for attempting to serve it up to the winner. Unfortunately softening ground meant that he could not give his best in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes and Hillstar beat him by more or less the same margin as in the Hardwicke and that form received a form boost when the winner, Cavalryman, won the Goodwood Cup. On this quicker ground I hope that my original thinking can come up trumps this time.

Songcraft represents the other wing of the Godolphin operation to Encke and has every chance on official ratings. An absence of 125 days (or a lot more) is no barrier to success for Saeed Bin Suroor-trained horses but I just don’t know if I believe he is a 112-rated horse as his best two runs came at Meydan in the spring (form which doesn’t always translate well to Britain in the summer) including a head-second to Excellent Result, but that winner was put in his place by Hillstar and Pether’s Moon at Newmarket and again in the Goodwood Cup. David Simcock is double-handed with last season’s Derby fourth, Battle Of Marengo (when trained by Aidan O’Brien), and Cafe Society. Battle Of Marengo is officially the superior by 13lb and Jamie Spencer rides but he has gone backwards quickly since he was second to Hillstar at Royal Ascot last year running to no way near close to his current rating of 110 so I wouldn’t be surprised if Cafe Society is the more likely stable representative on his first attempt in a pattern race after finishing third in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot. Aussie Reigns has around a stone to find with many of these and the chances of him finding that improvement on his 31st start are slim to say the least.

CONCLUSION - Pether’s Moon shaped like a better horse than Hillstar when he just lost second to him at Royal Ascot and then got close to him again on softening ground at Newmarket but I fancy he can reverse placings on this better surface and I see this pair fighting out the finish.

2:30 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes

This race for 3yos over a mile was first run in 1998 and promoted to Group 3 status two years ago. The Hannon team’s representative for a fourth winner in ten years is the 2000 Guineas fourth and Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up, Shifting Power, who sets a clear standard to the tune of 4lb over the 1000 Guineas and Irish 1000 Guineas runner-up, Lightning Thunder. Shifting Power has since contested another Group 1 race when he finished a half-length third in the Prix Jean-Prat where he was subsequently promoted to second on the disqualification of the original runner-up. The winner of that Group 1 was the 2000 Guineas fifth, Charm Spirit, so Shifting Power more or less ran his race at Chantilly so is keeping his form. Whether the same can be argued for Lightning Thunder though is questionable as she went backwards from her Newmarket second (beaten a neck by Miss France) to her Curragh second (beaten 3l by Marvellous) and again when only ninth as the 5/2 favourite in the Coronation Stakes where she may have been feeling the effects of a hard race on testing ground in the Irish 1000 Guineas. She has had a break of six weeks since Royal Ascot to help freshen her up but there will be few arguing that the 3yo colts over a mile are not superior to the 3yo fillies over a mile this season on what we have witnessed so far.

Windfast also tacked Group-race company at Royal Ascot when faring best in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes of the horses not to have contested any version of a 2000 Guineas when he finished fourth behind Mustajeeb. Prior to that run he was seventh in the Greenham and third in the King Charles II Stakes (Listed) so he is improving with each run this season and there should be more to come as this is only his sixth start. Sticking with fine Royal Ascot runs and the Britannia Handicap second and third, Bow Creek and Hors De Combat, are thrust into Group-race company for the first time. As Bow Creek was giving his rival 8lb that day and meets him on level terms on this occasion, the Mark Johnston-trained contender looks to the one to be with of the pair even if Hors De Combat is unexposed having his sixth start compared to Bow Creek having his thirteenth which included a three-runner Listed race success at Lingfield and a second in the Dee Stakes where 1m2f probably stretched him. What About Carlo bypassed Royal Ascot but he has been in rude health winning two handicaps in emphatic style but top weight caught him out on softening ground when a slightly disappointing fourth of seven at the Newmarket July Meeting. I do feel that he could have a Group 3 race in him this season but maybe a weaker one rather than this contest taking on Classic placed horses.

The two potentially dangerous lurkers are Wannabe Yours, who has won his last two starts for John Gosden, and Rapprochement who on his debut just 14 days for Godolphin. Wannabe Yours was comfortably held in both maidens at two but he is 2-2 for this season following up a short-head maiden win at Nottingham with a 9l romp in a Doncaster handicap on soft ground in a race that Gosden won with the well-regarded Remote last year who then went on to win at Royal Ascot so that may give an indication of how highly Wannabe Yours might be rated at home? Any Charlie Appleby-trained winning debutant should be noted this season as his two-year-olds often come on plenty for their debut effort so Rapproachement would be an interesting contender even before we consider he won on debut by as much as 11 lengths at Newmarket when he was fitted with a hood which is unusual for a newcomer. Afterwards Appleby commented that he had always held him in high regard.

CONCLUSION - Shifting Power has the form and stable profile in this race to be worthy of clear favouritism and I fancy him strongly but if around 7/4 is not for you then Windfast looks too big at 16/1 in a place for each-way purposes if all eight remain.

3:05 Betfred Mile (Handicap)

One of the top heritage handicaps of the season worth £130,000, Mark Johnston leads the way with five winners and he relies on Heavy Metal who will be attempting to emulate Third Set who followed up his win in the huge 7f handicap at Ascot on Saturday back in 2007 which looked the highest quality handicap run this season heading into the race. He has a 3lb penalty for that 33/1 success and holds the Bunbury Cup winner, Heaven’s Guest (4th), Fort Bastion (8th), Horsted Keynes, Belgian Bill (17th as favourite) and Bronze Angel (23rd). What Belgian Bill has in his favour here is being drawn 1 of 22 in a race where low numbers should be favoured as they have been around this trip on the first two days of the meeting when horses drawn 1 have come out on top twice in big field handicaps. He is aged six though which is not good as you will read later. The draw has also been kind to Fort Bastion in stall 3 but Bronze Angel, by contrast, is drawn widest of all in stall 22 whereas the other three have middle draws. Of that sextet that ran at Ascot on Saturday, I would be looking to Heavy Metal to fare best again.

Three-year-olds have won four of the last six runnings and their sole representative this year is Our Channel who won a conditions race at Epsom in April before finishing 13th in the Derby. William Haggas then sent him to America when beaten half a length in a Grade 3 at Arlington when dropping back to 1m2f and he is down another quarter mile today. Hde has not fared well with the draw however berthed out in stall 18. In a mile handicap as hot as this it is hard to fancy a horse aged over five (just one has won in this race’s 27-year history) so the six-year-olds, Two For Two, Chosen Character and Askaud, are not for me, neither are the seven-year-olds, Pastoral Player and George Guru (who are both well drawn), or the eight-year-olds, St Moritz and Mabait.

Others drawn in a favourable single-figure stall are Red Avenger who is tried in first-time blinkers and was second in a handicap at this meeting last year but he hasn’t looked that well handicapped of late, the top weight Captain Cat who has been plying his trade very successfully on the all-weather this season, Cappo Rosso, whose hat-trick of wins between November and May (two of which at Wolverhampton) has seen him struggle off a higher handicap since and Magic City for the Hughes-Hannon combination that took last year’s race with Wentworth and who has won three of his five starts at Goodwood so it is likely that he has been kept ticking along with this race in mind. The favourite is Velox who has not been badly treated by the draw at all in stall 10 and he bids to give Luca Cumani a first winner of the week having had two seconds and a third in competitive handicaps on the first two days. A ready victory by 3l at Sandown last time out saw him catapult to the head of the ante-post market but he does have to overcome a 9lb higher mark. Russian Realm was back in fourth after being sent off favourite but he will need a belter of a ride from Ryan Moore to win from stall 21.

Of those drawn in the higher half, not too many appeal and I would suggest Bronze Angel from the widest draw of all as having their best chance especially with Marcus Tregoning trying something different popping on a visor for the first time. He is still well handicapped after his York win on his penultimate start as he only has a 3lb penalty here even if he did not cut any ice with that same penalty at Ascot on Saturday but that was over 7f and he is better at a mile, the trip where he won at York and he is also a Cambridgeshire winner over 1m1f and races off only a 2lb higher mark than when he won that cavalry charge. The other higher-drawn contenders not already mentioned are Steeler who has a course win to his name and was third in the Royal Hint Cup last time out and Boomshackerlacker who was second in a Listed race in France last weekend after finishing in midfield in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot.

CONCLUSION - horses drawn in the lower half aged no older than five is a good combination and Heavy Metal, Velox, Magic City and Fort Bastion make most appeal of those.

3:40 Betfred King George Stakes

First run in 1911, this Group 2 race over 5f is a showcase for raw speed and was upgraded from a Group 3 in 2010. Just 7lb covers the top nine in the ratings so chances can be argued for many in this 16-runner contest including Moviesta who will be attempting to become the fourth back-to-back winner since the War, the latest being Lochsong, and I would argue this is arguably a slighter weaker contest than last year when he became the first three-year-old to win since 2002. He is not in the same form entering this year’s race as last year where he had won twice and beaten by small margins into second on his four previous outings whereas this season he beat only one home in the Duke Of York Stakes (though 6f on soft ground would have been too far for him) and eighth of 13 in the July Cup also over 6f also after rain. However, 5f on fast ground is his thing and he was a good 2l fifth to Sole Power in the Palace House Stakes on his seasonal debut showing he is likely to be as good at four as he was at three when he is fit and has his conditions so everything looks right for him here to show his best again.

Officially top rated is Tropics if you can believe that he suddenly improved 6lb on his 18th career start when a 66/1 second to Slade Power in the July Cup. Despite a good winner, it was a weak July Cup on soft ground so I don’t entirely trust the form and today’s 5f on fast ground on a quick track will be very different to 6f on soft ground on a stiff track and there must be a good reason why Tropics has never been asked to race over 5f in 18 previous races. Second top-rated is Stepper Point based on when he also ran well above expectations to finish second at 50/1 in a Group 1 when he chased him Sole Power in the King’s Stand Stakes. Mind you, he had finished only a length behind Sole Power in the Palace House Stakes just ahead of Moviesta and ran well at Chantilly in between. Therefore he was disappointing next out when only sixth behind Extortionist at Sandown in a Listed race beaten 3½l. That win makes Extortionist the pick of today’s six three-year-olds but that age group had not won this race for 11 years until Moveista 12 months ago. He had Kingsgate Native and Wind Fire back in second and fourth at Sandown winning with something in hand having found his form the previous month with a win and second after losing his mojo for 12 months after he won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2013. The nine-year-old Kingsgate Native has 1¼l to find with Extortionist on Sandown form and is 2lb better off and he won this race in 2009. He has been well beaten in this race twice since however and gives the impression a stiff 5f may suit him best in his old age.

Hamza has a decent chance if he can reproduce his third in last season’s Prix de l’Abbaye or his Abernant Stakes defeat of Es Que Love (won a Group 2 on Tuesday) and Aljamaaheer (third in the Diamond Jubilee) but he has not reproduced that form in his next two starts and connections now turn to a visor for the first time to whizz him up for what will be a real test of speed and have also booked Richard Hughes for the first time. Fillies have a good record in this race down the years and Ladies Are Forever is their best hope after winning a Group 3 for fillies and mares at York last week so she is clearly in fine heart but she still needs to find another 6lb or so at the age of six. Take Cover is a remarkable seven-year-old having not made his debut until he was four and then he took off after winning at York last autumn and was only beaten 3l in the King’s Stand Stakes before beating G Force by 1¼l in a Listed race at York last month so he is still improving. The other older horses have it to do as Monsieur Joe is exposed as not being quite up to this level at the age of seven and Demora has her first run in a race better than a Class 2 handicap on her 20th start.

Extortionsist is the form pick of the three-year-olds but G Force is no forlorn hope despite being beaten by Take Cover last time as this is just his sixth career start and the David O’Meara stable are in better form now after a mid-season blip. He looked very speedy and a sure-fire future Group winner when turning a handicap at the Dante Meeting into a one-horse race. The Richard Hannon-trained Brown Sugar will probably struggle on his seasonal debut and Hughes riding for another stable and there is little between Wind Fire and Hay Chewed (wears a first-time hood) on their 1-2 in a Listed race at Sandown on June when G Force was third when he got going too late but both were easily held by Extortionist since at the same course afterwards. Also wearing first-time headgear is Reroute as connections have turned to blinkers after defeats this season in races won by Ladies Are Forever, Hay Chewed and Take Cover so they will need to work big time.

CONCLUSION - Moviesta hasn’t had his ideal conditions of 5f on fast ground this season so I can see him bounce back right to his best if the rain forecast for later in the week stays away in time and provide better value than the likely favourite, Extortionist. G Force and Hamza in a first-time visor appeal as live dangers.

4:15 Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Nursery

No Dandy Nicholls representative for this 6f nursery this year who won all four runnings between 2006-2009 and what looks the most competitive race of its type run so far this season with 12 of the 14 runners having already won so chances can be argued for plenty and we should act accordingly and take it easy.

The Hannon stable are bidding to win it for a third time in the last decade and run Sunset Sail who has improved with all three starts culminating in a 4l victory at odds-on at Windsor 46 days ago over 5f making all and staying on well so he should have no problem moving up in trip. He does have 9st 4lb though and no winner in the last decade has carried over 9st 2lb which goes against the theory that we should look to the top weights in nurseries. The top five in the weights all race off higher than 9st 2lb with Red Icon and Vimy Ridge attempting to give weight away to all their rivals. Red Icon has earned joint top weight by finishing third to the subsequent Norfolk Stakes winner in the Woodcote Stakes (Listed) at Epsom on Derby Day but he was then third to Pallister and Winstanley at Pontefract and that pair have both been disappointing at Goodwood earlier this week. Richard Fahey won this race two years ago and he runs Vimy Ridge who has a 6lb penalty for his win at Thirsk last week in a six-runner affair under 5lb claimer Jack Garritty who keeps the ride. He will do well to overcome that penalty in a far more competitive race. Fahey also runs George Bowen who looks the stable preferred with Tony Hamilton riding. Successful on his debut at Carlisle, he was really thrown into the deep end next time in a Group 2 won by Ivawood at Newmarket so he is of interest here racing off 9st 2lb. Magical Memory represents Charlie Hills who has been set some stiff tasks to date including when second to Ivawood at Sandown and when in midfield in the Weatherbys Super Sprint in between winning a small race at Leicester whilst father, Barry, has declared Markaz who arrives here off the back of a win at Ascot on his third start.

Of those set to carry under 9st 2lb, Inniscastle Lad, Lady Desire, Great Park and L’Addition all arrive here directly off the back of a win, the latter pair having won their only start. Great Park made his winning debut at Newcastle for Martyn Meade whereas L’Addition got off the perfect start when successful for William Jarvis in ready fashion at Lingfield so I prefer her of the pair especially receiving 6lb. Innicastle Lad benefited from his debut run to narrowly win at Nottingham by a head and Lady Desire has a similar profile having come on for her debut run to win at Hamilton, though in more convincing fashion.

Son Of Africa and Showcard have also won this season, the former on debut at Windsor for Henry Candy before a disappointing last of six at Pontefract behind Red Icon who was third, whereas the latter sandwiched a course-and-distance win in between a fair debut run at Ascot and finding the Group 3 Albany Stakes far too hot at the Royal Meeting. Back at Goodwood and down in class, he has claims for Gary Moore. The only two maidens are Brazen Spirit who is 0-5 and ran in midfield in the Weatherbys Super Sprint last time out and Dominic Cork who is the bottom weight by some margin after four unremarkable runs and was tried in blinkers last time but they are left off today.

CONCLUSION - hard, but I’ll suggest Sunset Sail, L’Addition and Showcard as my three against the field.

4:15 L’Ormarins Queens Plate (registered as the Oak Tree Stakes)

This 7f race for fillies and mares was upgraded to a Group 3 race ten years ago but there has been no discernible advantage to being either a three-year-old or older campaigner. Three-year-olds lead 6-4 and that is likely to be 7-4 after today as they are responsible for eight of the ten runners headed on official ratings by the 100/1 1000 Guineas fourth, Manderley. She was fully deserving of those odds beforehand being a maiden after six starts and then she got off the mark at Nottingham in a maiden at odds of 1/3. However, horses can run big races at huge prices in Classics as we have seen many times before and then never come close to repeating that form and Manderley was then well beaten when favourite for a Listed race next time. Evita Peron has won two of her four starts for Ralph Beckett and there should be more to come having been unraced at two. Fourth in the German 1000 Guineas on her third outing, she then won a Listed race at Newmarket in commanding style by 2¾l in which Manderley was seventh so this Group 3 is the natural next progression.

Muteela officially has 9lb to find with Manderley but I will be surprised if she does not finish ahead of her. Mark Johnston’s thoroughly admirable Royal Ascot winner maintained her unbeaten record when a very well-backed winner of the Sandringham Handicap fending off 23 rivals from the front which marked out her toughness as well as her class. Connections of the short-head runner-up, Queen Catrine, will fancy their chances of reversing on 7lb better terms not only because of the weights being in her favour but she was also the recipient of another Jamie Spencer shocker at the Royal Meeting when he gave her too much to do having been held up last of 24. Queen Catrine was dropping in class to almost win that handicap at Royal Ascot having placed in five Group races including a third in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac so a win here would not be out of place but she is becoming somewhat of a professional loser. She has run disappointingly since Royal Ascot though only fifth of six as 5/4 favourite for a Listed race at Sandown where she took a keen hold so perhaps the stronger pace of bigger fields is what she wants to be seen to best effect? Wee Jean was just touched off in second in that Sandown race having finished one place behind Queen Catrine at Ascot so she is improving and has a course-and-distance win to her name so she also has to be considered but she is 9lb worse off today with Queen Catrine who just finished ahead of her in the Sandringham.

J Wonder was a taking winner of the Fred Darling Stakes with Valonia back in eighth having been backed from double-figures into 4/1 so connections knew she was ready first time out but she pulled too hard on soft ground when finishing in midfield in the French 1000 Guineas. Her only other start was when a respectable seventh in a muddling Coronation Stakes beaten 3¼l by Rizeena so she should appreciate this drop in class. This Time completes the octet of three-year-olds. Henry Pantall sends over This Time from France but he hasn’t had any success with the ten horses he has run in Britain in the last five years, though two have finished second. Since finished one place ahead of J Wonder when sixth in the French 1000 Guineas but was then readily outpaced when second as favourite in a Listed race next time.

The two older fillies need to find improvement. Indignant caused an 18/1 surprise when winning a Listed race at Salisbury two starts back beating her stablemate and Evens favourite, Professor, by a neck over 6f and then ran well when a 2l second in a Group 3 at York also over 6f which begs the question whether she will enjoy this extra furling as much especially as she only beat rival home in a 14-runner edition of this race last year? She has won at a lower level over 7f but her best form has been over 6f. The Gold Cheongsam was fourth in this race last year, one of four unplaced efforts at pattern level in as many starts, and has to improve significantly on her second place finish in a Newmarket handicap six days ago.

CONCLUSION - Muteela and J Wonder make most appeal ahead of Evita Peron.

5:25 Betfred Mobile Stakes (Handicap)

Eleven seemingly run-of-the-mill 3yo handicappers take centre stage for the closing event over 1m3f that I can’t get too excited about. Festival Theatre makes more appeal than most for Stoute and Moore following a break of 85 days since beating one horse home in the Chester Vase. Being a Ballymacoll Stud home-bred, he is therefore the type to make a progressive, middle-distance horse so it is no surprise that Stoute has not rushed him back. After he won over 7f as a two-year-old his connections commented that he should not be winning over that kind of trip so he has some speed for a horse with his pedigree. Richard Hannon is double-handed with Hughes aboard Cameo Tiara who has finished fourth on all three starts since winning a Kempton maiden in April so she does not look obviously well treated. Lil Rockfeller looks the second string on jockey bookings but Hughes wouldn’t be able to do 8st 5lb so don’t read anything into that and he did win last time out so he may be better value if the public read too much into who the Champion Jockey is riding. Kieran O’Neill takes the ride on the bottom weight who is only having his fifth start and took a five-runner Doncaster handicap off top weight when stepping up to 1m2f for the first time and he is just 3lb higher today.

It wouldn’t be a Glorious Goodwood handicap without a Mark Johnston runner who has bagged two such events this week so far and he has declared Fire Fighting who has been beaten in all seven starts since winning off 85 (albeit in a four-runner race) last autumn and is now back down to 80 so the Handicapper has given him a real chance if he can find his best form. However, he has only beaten four horses in his last four races combined. Mick Channon has turned to a visor for the first time for Arantes who hasn’t really threatened in six starts since winning a Wolverhampton maiden in the spring. More interesting therefore are the top three in the weights notably Art Of War on his fifth start who found the big-field experience at Royal Ascot not to his liking when last in the King George V Handicap after winning a Ripon maiden. Stormardal was fifth of six at 50/1 in last year’s Group 1 Dewhurst so carries top weight but he looks like he needs the Handicapper to relent more judged on his last three handicap starts. Rydan won at Sandown off 80 in June before returning to Esher to finish third off today’s mark of 86 so he can be thereabouts again.

Cape Caster, Artful Rogue and Tall Ship complete the field. Cape Caster has run pretty well in two fairly decent handicaps over 1m4f since winning his maiden so he is worthy of each-way consideration. Artful Rogue remains a maiden after six starts including three seconds and Tall Ship also ran second last time out when visored for the first time but they have dispensed with that headgear today.

CONCLUSION - Lil Rockfeller and Festival Theatre make most appeal ahead of Rydan.

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