my thoughts and bets for day 5 at goodwood

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my thoughts and bets for day 5 at goodwood

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2:05 Handicap

A consolation race for those that did not get into the Stewards’ Cup featuring 28 runners. Punters seem to love these puzzles but give me an eight-runner Group 3 every day so I won’t go through all 28 individually.

The feeling when connections chose their stalls for the Stewards’ Cup was that high-to-middle was the place to be and if they are right then horses drawn low should be at a disadvantage. However, the King George Stakes 1-2 finished hard up against the far rail (low) on Friday so who really knows? The supposedly best drawn quartet before the King Gerorge Stakes was run of El Viento, Pandar, Noble Deed and Regal Parade don’t make much appeal on recent form so best of those drawn in the highest third look to be Extrasolar and Shore Step who both run under a 6lb penalty and although the first named has won twice over 5f recently he did win a handicap over course and distance last year. Shore Step made all to win a 15-runner handicap at Ascot by 2l last time so that looks the stronger recent form of the pair.

Of those supposedly drawn poorly in the lowest third (though I have my doubts about that), Barnet Fair was a fancy of mine for the 5f handicap on the opening day but he was withdrawn on the day but the Dandy Nicholls stable won it for the third time anyway with Inxile. I liked his chance four days ago based on the fact that Nicholls targets this meeting and he ran a cracker just a couple of days earlier in a valuable handicap at Ascot so he is bang in form, though whether he is as effective over 6f as he is over 5f is a concern. Daylight has the number 1 draw against the far rail (when they reach the far rail) and he was a staying-on fifth in that 5f handicap won by Inxile on Tuesday after a couple of wins at 6f so this trip could bring around improvement on that good run four days ago.

I am usually against horses drawn in middle third in big-field, straight-course handicaps as the pace is either by one rail or another and that is borne out by results but the Stewards’ Cup has been an exception to that rule and this is the Steward’s Cup consolation race. The pace could also easily come down the centre as Even Stevens will make them all go for 4-5f from stall 16 as he is lightning fast. It’s whether he can hang on over 6f that’s the problem but this is a fast 6f and he has not raced on ground faster than Good for over two years as he has mainly been kept to the all-weather. He could hang on for a place if it stays fast. Mission Approved in stall 18 represents the Cumani stable that has been knocking on the door in handicaps this week and targets this meeting so he could easily build on three placed efforts in as many starts this season and he will get a good toe from Even Stevens.

CONCLUSION - this isn’t far off a pin job but for bit of fun I’ll take Shore Step of those drawn high, Barnet Fair of those drawn low and Mission Approved of those drawn centrally but I can see a big run from Even Stevens for each-way purposes if the ground is on the fast side of Good.

2:40 Jaguar Stakes (Handicap)

A Class 2 handicap over 1m4f for three-year-olds rated 0-105 first run in 1990, it is hard to believe that we will see a hotter handicap over this trip for this age group this season as this is ferociously competitive featuring any number of in-form, potential Group horses in time from top yards.

Four of the first seven runnings were won by Luca Cumani but Sir Michael Stoute has even trumped that by sending out five winners, his most notable being Pilsudski. Both have a sole contender for this season’s renewal who both contested the same Newbury maiden on May 31st and both are big players. Stoute runs Kings Fete who is as low as 14/1 in a place for the St Leger after following up a maiden win with a victory over the live Ebor hope, Mighty Yar, on his third career start at York last month. Kings Fete has made giant strides since then which is rather apt as it was his giant stride that initially caught eye in addition to the way he moved through his maiden when not best positioned and his impressive physical frame. Many will argue that Mighty Yar would have beaten Kings Fete at York had he not slipped exiting the stalls but Kings Fete was very free going to down to post and also in the first 3f of the race and it takes a very good horse to overcome that and still win. Given how Kings Fete was before and during that York race, connections have turned to a hood for the first time to help calm him down and, if that works, I make him the most likely winner as I don’t think a 5lb rise is enough en route to much better things. I certainly see him contesting Group 2 races at the very least next season and he could easily be Stoute’s John Porter/Ormonde/Hardwicke horse. The winner of that Newbury maiden in which Kings fete was fourth on debut was Second Step who was having his second start and he has since followed up by winning a handicap at the same course by 2l stepping up to today’s 1m4f. He receives 4lb from Kings Fete today having beaten him by a length back in May and looks a typical Cumani improver but whether he is improving at quite the same knot of rates as Kings Fete is the big question?

This is anything but a two-horse race however featuring nine other horses who won or finished second last time out, chief amongst them being the Mark Johnston-trained Rainbow Rock who ran an extraordinary race here on Thursday when second to his stablemate having been detached from the field by 4l not looking to be enjoying himself on this undulating course given the size of him so he was in the worst possible position when the pace slowed up markedly for the middle third of the race but then flew home to grab second. He isn’t the easiest as he has been tried in a visor and they have gelded him which brought around immediate results but he has loads of ability and will be a force in big races when the emphasis is on stamina. He is probably more of an in-running play because if he is within touching distance at half-way then his chance will have improved considerably given how strongly he is likely to finish. Cam Hardie keeps the ride with his 5lb claim. Johnston also runs the top weight, Double Bluff, under Joe Fanning who won his maiden here last September and has been in fine form of late finishing second in a Listed race at Hamilton and the to the Ebor favourite at Ascot last week. Master Of Finance complete the Johnston armada from the number 1 draw that has been profitable to follow this week on handicaps on the Round Course with William Buick picking up the mount and has been beaten no more than half a length in his last two starts including in the Swiss Derby last time out.

Satellite is well regarded by William Haggas and he has the assistance of Ryan Moore and is in the Great Voltigeur. He is open to plenty of improvement on just his fourth start having won his maiden before setting too fast a pace when fourth to Cannock Chase and Windshear in the red-hot London Gold Cup so he did very well to hang on for fourth beaten 3l. There was no disgrace in going down by a short-head to a future Group horse in Roseburg last time out either when wearing a hood to help pacify him so he is another who has a progressive profile from a top yard who I see being better than a handicapper in time. The hood is off today. Black Shadow brings winning course form to the table for Amanda Perrett having easily won his maiden here and he looks to have been held back for this since finishing second in a good handicap at Epsom on Derby Day after taking a keen hold so he has chances. As does his stablemate, Pack Leader, who has also won at Goodwood before as well as finishing second here in two good maidens and he has not finished out of the first two in his last five starts. Sticking with previous Goodwood winners and Ed Dunlop runs Oasis Fantasy who won over course and distance in June either side of finding one better handicapped rival in may and July. I am not sure he is progressive enough for a handicap as hot as this though.

In addition to the pair I like most (Kings Fete and Second Step), the other last-time-out winner is Adventure Seeker for Ed Vaughan. That win was achieved 78 days ago at the Dante Meeting but an 11lb raise looks tough to overcome in this red-hot handicap having won by 2¼l so I would have expected around 7lb. The runner-up, Penhill, has won two of his subsequent three starts however. This will be some race for Smiling Stranger to break his maiden tag in on his fifth start but he has been unfortunate to run into two good maiden winners in Connecticut and Saab Almanal. Galactic Heroine has had one fewer start but was readily brushed aside by Penhill in a three-horse race last time out so she has it to with Adventure Seeker for starters.

Of those not to post a top-two finish last time out, Black Schnapps finished in midfield in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot, Karraar was third in Kings Fete’s maiden win but then only sixth of eight as favourite for a Sandown handicap, Fun Mac was last of eight behind Second Set in a handicap last time out and Norse Star has struggled in three races since winning at Nottingham in May.

CONCLUSION - Kings Fete is my idea of a Group race winner next season and he would be my preference if he settles over Second Set and Rainbow Rock in a screamingly-good middle distance 3yo handicap.

3:15 Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes

Being blunt, this is worst running of this race I can remember. A Group 1 race since 1999, Ruby Tiger won the first two runnings aged four and then five but from that point onwards three-year-olds then rolled off 11 wins on the spin before older fillies and mares started to hold their own again so the full score is 16-7 in favour of three-year-olds since it became a Group 1 and 30-9 since older fillies were first allowed to run in 1975. Far more significantly, however, the score line is 5-5 in the last decade as the European Pattern Race Committee have made it far more tempting for the better fillies and mares to remain in training by dramatically extending their programme so I won’t let age affect my thoughts.

Venus De Milo looks the one to beat on pure form on her second to last year’s runner-up, Thistle Bird, in the Pretty Polly Stakes last time out which tells us all we need to know about the quality of this year’s line up. She had good fillies like Just The Judge and Ambivalent behind that day but the winner won easily so I am not sure that Aidan O’Brien’s filly was at her best and I doubt she ran up to the form of her 4l second to The Fugue in last year’s Yorkshire Oaks or when second in last season’s Irish Oaks. She was more aggressively ridden than usual however attempting to make use of her stamina so was a sitting duck for a filly with a turn of speed like the winner. That could be the problem again as the Form Book says her best two runs were over 1m4f as a three-year-old but she remains at 1m2f for the time being. Venus De Milo is joint top-rated alongside the Alain de Royer-Dupre trained Narniyn whose run of four straight wins ended last time out when fourth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud after taking a keen hold beaten 2l by Spirit Jim and Noble Mission (the latter committed fro home too soon). The step up to Group 1 company appeared to catch her out after two Group 3 wins but this year’s Nassau Stakes is a weak Group 1. That said, I wasn’t overly enamoured by the way she flashed her tail under pressure. She is quite hard to weigh up.

Sultanina is not only the most lightly-raced older filly in the race but also the most lightly-raced full stop as this is just her fourth start so although she has 7lb to find on official figures, she is the most likely to be still improving. A narrow winner of a good maiden when she wore a hood, she then took the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes by a short-head from her stablemate on just her second start when the headgear was removed before going down to another stablemate in Pomology in the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks by 2¼l. Talent was back in third that day and I was hoping she would run better than fourth in Thursday’s Lillie Langry Stakes. Sultanina needs to improve again but is likely to do so and if the rain arrives before racing as forecast, according to her trainer that will also help her (all three of her runs have been on good-to-soft). Her stable have a raft of classy fillies this season to judge her against so the fact she tries this Group 1 is telling. Mango Diva is the fourth and final older filly representing Sir Michael Stoute who has won the Nassau Stakes on seven previous occasions. Curiously, her last two wins have both been over the unusual trip of 1m1f and both times in Ireland and that could be the key to her. A short-head defeat of Lahinch Classics last time out also means she needs to find more improvement.

The three three-year-olds are headed by Amazing Maria who was a looked-after last of 17 on her seasonal debut in the Oaks after a setback ruled her out of the 1000 Guineas. It would be harsh to therefore treat her on her sole three-year-old start, especially as her stable were out of form for the first half of the season but going much better now, but her two-year-old profile gives cause for optimism as she won a maiden at this meeting last year before winning the Group 3 Prestige Stakes also at Goodwood in convincing style. No surprise therefore that the Nassau has always been on connections’ minds. In addition to Sultanina, John Gosden also runs Eastern Belle who is the likely stable second string with Buick aboard the older filly so the ride goes to Jimmy Fortune riding for his old boss. The fact that it took her five starts to shed her maiden tag should not been seen as a negative as her last two runs were in Listed races when second here in the Oaks trial behind Marsh Daisy on soft ground before winning the Ballymacoll Stud Stakes at Newbury on good-to-firm ground. The bare form winning by a hard-fought neck form Pelerin (fifth and sixth in Listed races either side of that run) leaves her plenty to find however. Lustrous was a surprise winner at 20/1 of the Listed race for fillies and mares at the Dante Meeting before improving officially another 4lb when a half-length second to the subsequent Irish Oaks winner, Bracelet, in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. Lustrous was sent to the same Classic at The Curragh but failed to run to form on this occasion finishing seventh of eight. She has a squeak if she can re-find her Ribblesdale form.

CONCLUSION - Sultanina might be able to improve past higher-rated rivals in a weak Group 1 for a stable rich with female talent at present. Venus De Milo would worry me most.

3:50 32Red Cup (Stewards’ Cup)

The less said about the name change the better. Maybe we will get a clue if there is a draw advantage in the consolation race that opens the card but when the draw was made, the high-to-middle numbers were favoured towards the stands’ rail by connections who chose high if their name was pulled out to choose their stall position. However, since then, the 1-2 in the Group 3 King George Stakes finished hard up against the far rail though they were two of the first three in the betting. Muthmir was installed as favourite after he cruised through a good handicap at York last week winning with something up his sleeve and has stall 2. He has a 6lb penalty for that win but still looks well ahead of the Handicapper. Will the draw scupper him though? If not, then he has to go close. York Glory is drawn next to him in stall 3 and is Group class on his day like when he stormed through the Wokingham field last season to win going away so big-field, strongly-run 6f sprint handicaps are what brings the best out of him. James Doyle rode him when he was second to the subsequent Prix de l’Abbaye winner, Maarek, at Newbury last season and now has his second ride on him. The problem is that he hasn’t beaten a horse in his last two starts but he could be the type to bounce back and hot the frame at a big price. They would be my two against the field drawn low.

Of those drawn in the highest third Intrinsic looks the one. Robert Cowell’s four-year-old was pulled out of a valuable handicap at Ascot a few weeks back so hasn’t run for 71 days when completing a hat-trick with a head defeat of Ashpan Sam (then won his next start) here at the May Meeting. He has gone up 6lb for that win under Hughes who rides again today but Cowell is a tremendous trainer of sprinters and the fact he has entered her for the Group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup catches the eye so a handicap mark of 95 should be well within her compass. Discussiontofollow is the other high-drawn horse with an obvious chance having won a 18-runner 5f handicap last time out for which he has picked up a 6lb penalty having previously finished third in the Scurry at The Curragh so he stays 6f fine too. Last year’s winner, Rex Imperator, is a second Haggas-trained runner and is only 4lb higher than 12 months ago despite top weight and you can forget his last run when last in the July Cup as the soft ground was against him.

Of those drawn centrally I am tempted to give Ninjago another chance who was my main Wokingham fancy after a promising seasonal debut at Newmarket but he could never land a blow finishing thirteenth. He is just the type to pop up at a decent price in a big handicap though as he travels strongly off a fast pace but his hold-up style means that he will always need luck in running. Blaine likes to blast it and he is drawn in stall 13 so there should be a very good pace for Ninjago to follow. Richard Hughes unsurprisingly prefers the in-form and progressive Intrinsic though but Ninjago’s supporters don’t have a bad replacement in Ryan Moore. Also getting a toe from Blaine would be Borderlescott and I wouldn’t put it beyond the old boy to hit the frame despite being aged 12. A former dual Group 1 winner, he goes very well at Goodwood having won the Group 2 here in 2010 in addition to winning this race in 2006(!), beaten a short-head in the 2007 running and a ¾l when third in 2008. He was also only beaten 2¾l in this race two years ago and has been trained specifically for this meeting. I say this meeting as he has been trained for the consolation race as they didn’t think he would get in this 32Red Cup so I would expect him to improve on his four runs this season.

CONCLUSION - Muthmir might be a class above these regardless of the low draw and looks save material whatever else you do but I prefer Intrinsic as more of a percentage play drawn on the other side receiving 3lb who has a Group 1 entry and wouldn’t rule out my old mate Ninjago from being the best of those drawn centrally. I could also be tempted into a place-only wager on Borderlescott who has been trained for this meeting and loves Goodwood in the summer.

4:25 Natwest Ahead For Business EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes

The fourth and final maiden race at Glorious Goodwood is for two-year-old colts and geldings over 7f and the Hannon stable and Mark Johnston have won five of the last seven runnings between them. The Hannon team were responsible for three of those winners and they field three contenders in this field of 11 with Hughes aboard Lethal Legacy who finished fourth on his only start 15 days ago in a very good looking Newbury maiden when only beaten a length by the odds-on Nafaqa who had finished fourth in the Chesham Stakes on his only previous start. The runner-up had previously finished second to Tupi (then ran second in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes on Tuesday) and the third impressed me so much. Lethal Legacy, who was an unfancied 33/1 shot, to finish right on their heels on debut for a stable whose newcomers then usually come on plenty for their second start and that form already sets the standard, then he is going to be hard to beat. Ed Dunlop’s Fieldsman was two places behind Lethal Legacy but 4l adrift of the Hannon runner when also making his debut in that contest. Hannon also runs Maftoon (Dane O’Neill) who has finished fourth and third on his two starts so far (missed the break when favourite on the second occasion so that run can be marked up) and Silver Quay (Jimmy Fortune) who was last of 16 on debut before running much better when fourth to the classy Mustadeem (previously close second to the Group 2 winner, Estidkhaar) and Darshini at Sandown. Mark Johnston relies on Secret Brief who has not run since he made his debut 76 days ago which suggests that he may have had a niggle. He shaped with some promise when third of nine at Ripon having played up in the preliminaries and was hampered during the race giving the impression a normal maiden would easily be within his compass. Johnston has him entered for the Champagne Stakes, Royal Lodge and Mill Reef Stakes.

Dutch Connection is the form alternative to Lethal Legacy having placed on both starts for Charlie Hills, on the latter occasion when beaten 6l into second by the current 2000 Guineas second-favourite, Faydhan, at Haydock. Time will tell that he was probably facing an impossible task there but he stuck on well as he did on his debut and has entries in the Group 1 National Stakes and Group 2 Champagne Stakes. Dance Of Fire shaped with some promise when fifth of ten behind Darshini at Sandown two weeks ago and he wouldn’t be out of hitting the frame here with normal progression and Rotherwick is another who should find winning an average maiden not a problem judged on his third at Ascot last time, but this looks better than an average maiden. Able Mate has impressed least of the nine contenders to have run so far.

Two debutants take their chance, Jolie De Vivre for Sylvester Kirk and, more interestingly, Heatstroke for Charlie Hills given that he has entries in the Champagne Stakes and the Royal Lodge.

CONCLUSION - if Lethal Legacy improves on his debut run as much as most Hannon juveniles do then he will be hard to beat here.

5:00 Telegraph Nursery Stakes

The second nursery of the meeting and this is mercifully less competitive than Friday’s nursery which featured 12 previous winners though not by much as six of the ten runners were successful last time out though it would appear that one of those, Home Cummins, is unlikely to run. We have to start with the Hannon representative as they have won three of the last six runnings with the favourite or second-favourite and they have declared the hat-trick chasing When Will It End who won a weak maiden at Brighton before running out a convincing 2l winner of a Newmarket nursery and is off a 6lb higher mark today when upped to today’s trip of 7f after which his trainer commented that victory was no surprise. Stec is also chasing a hat-trick for Tom Dascombe and 7lb claimer Jenny Powell who has ridden him on all three starts where he made all to win at Newbury and Haydock and proved very game on both occasions.

Andrew Balding trained the winner three years ago with a last-time-out maiden winner and his Guiding Light arrives here off the back of a Chepstow maiden success over 6f. Interestingly his owner commented afterwards: “Andrew said he would be green first time out and then win on his second start and he was right. Jimmy (Fortune) also thinks he will get a mile so to win over 6f was encouraging.” Therefore there is every chance he will improve again through experience and stepping up in trip. Shaakis represents the Marcus Tregoning stable who have been quiet this season but do like a Goodwood winner. After finishing seventh in a warm Newmarket maiden on debut he then won at Brighton moving up to today’s trip. The other last-time-out winner is Special Venture who is sent down from Yorkshire by Tim Easterby after winning a maiden auction at Beverley when also upped to 7f for the first time.

Of the quartet who were beaten on their most recent start, Muqaawel makes most appeal for Mark Johnston. Despite being slowly into stride and hanging in the final furlong he was still good enough to make a winning debut at Leicester but could only finish third of four as the 2/5 favourite in a Haydock nursery next time. Perhaps he could not handle rain-softened ground as his previous win was on a fast surface in which case he commands respect if the rain stays away. Johnston also runs Grigolo who has regressed with each of his three starts. Grand Proposal who has made an improvement in each of his three starts and now his nursery debut and My Mate who struggled in two good maidens before still having his limitations exposed in a weaker race at Yarmouth complete the field.

CONCLUSION - When Will It End and Guiding Light make most appeal ahead of Muqaawel.

5:35 Seamus Buckley’s 20th Glorious Stakes (Handicap)

A 5f 0-95 handicap for 3yos ends the five days and the handicaps don’t get any easier! Thankfully there are just 12 runners rather than a cavalry charge but seven come here directly off the back of win, not only that but two are chasing a hat-tricks and War Spirit is gunning for a four-timer after a maiden win and handicap victories off 71 and 77. The Hannon-Hughes representative is up another 7lb here so this won’t be easy but he does have soft-ground winning form as well as fast-ground winning form if the forecast rain arrives during the day and eases the surface. Desert Ace and Money Team are the hat-trick seekers and my marginal preference of the pair would be for Money Team with David Barron turning to Ryan Moore after winning twice under Graham Gibbons off 73 and 80 and now he tries his luck off 87. Desert Ace only has a 2lb rise to defy but, then again, he did only won a three-runner race at Bath by a short-head.

Captain Myles’ victory two weeks ago has warranted a 5lb raise and his stable have been in good form of late so I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised if he went close. He has 2l to find on War Spirit on Haydock form last month but meets that rival on 2lb better terms. Flying Bear is tried in first-time blinkers which is a surprise coming off a win last time out in a small field at Newbury off 74 last time out under Ryan Moore. Hard to say if Moore rides Money Team instead as he prefers him or whether Jeremy Gask wants to put up a claimer to offset a 4lb rise but, either way, I like his chance under Cam Hardie having won a 6f handicap at this meeting last year and also finishing second here in June on his only other run at Goodwood. Royal Brave has been really consistent this season not finishing out of the first three in five starts including two wins so he is entitled to each-way respect whereas Angel Flores has only finished out of the first two in five career starts once and Richard Fahey runs here from 1lb out of the handicap.

Of the beaten horses last time out, Mark Johnston’s top weight, Peterkin, looks the most likely to fight out the finish. He couldn’t make it three wins in four starts at Ascot last weekend but he gave it a good shot only losing second place on the line in a 15-runner race in a more valuable handicap than this. Zac Brown’s maiden win was achieved at odds of 1/7 and then he got found out in handicap company quite badly so he has something to prove as does Outer Space who has failed to trouble the judge on his last six starts. Groundworker is more interesting having won twice and finished second twice on his four starts prior to disappointing last time and he has course winning form to his name.

CONCLUSION - Flying Bear would be my preference but I also respect Peterkin and Money Team

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