STAR PREVIEW Thurs: Glorious Goodwood

Qatar Goodwood Festival 2020
28th July – 1st August
Live from 1:30pm on ITV 1 HD and ITV Hub, live from 12:00 on Racing TV

We didn’t have the luck that Goodwood demands yesterday, with Smart Champion making a bold late bid but being beaten fair and square into third (from this point of view) whilst Coeur De Lion never landed a blow, and Win O’Clock was just a deep disappointment. So too was Easy Game in the Galway Plate, although he was badly hampered five out and that probably put paid to his chances. The fact that Galvin didn’t run added salt to those wounds, and whilst Arigato never got a clear run, he didn’t really shape as if he’d have troubled the leader.

The real story of the day was an enthralling Susses Stakes, where Mohaather came with a brilliant late run to to chin Circus Maximus and give Marcus Tregoning a first Group 1 success since Sir Percy’s Derby in 2006. The race was a fascinating tactical contest with thrills and spills, but the winner was the right one and he probably would have been more impressive if he’d had a clear run down the outside.

Circus Maximus made it a 1-2 for the older generation, striking quite a blow considering the stick they’d received in some quarters beforehand. However, Siskin deserves credit for running a fine race here and Kameko’s connections can feel rightly aggrieved that they didn’t get a proper run too – indeed, Oisin Murphy felt he should have won – so the result can’t be taken for granted if and when these horses next meet, although we might see the 2,000 Guineas winner over ten furlongs next (which looks like it’ll be his best trip). Wichita was disappointing pure and simple, but San Donato (keen and made the biggest move first of all), and Vatican City (irregular heartbeat, lost shoe, was lame) can have their runs forgiven.

We have a race almost as good in the shape of the Nassau Stakes, where four Group 1 winners clash in what promises to be an enthralling contest. The chosen pick is Deirdre, who was a little underwhelming in the Eclipse when just fifth but holds every chance on her brilliant spell over the last 18 months, including a win in last year’s renewal. Her two runs in the Irish and British Champion Stakes (firstly when flying home after being denied a run at a crucial stage in Ireland, and then when finishing third despite being stuck in the mud at Ascot) are arguably some of the best form in this field, and things didn’t go her way in the Hong Kong Vase (no gallop) nor the Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup (may have been unsuited by unique course) before Sandown. With a run under her belt, she ought to take some stopping if at peak form and can reverse that form with the uber consistent Magic Wand (fourth that day).

Fancy Blue, a game winner of a quality Prix de Diane, is a leading contender along with Nazeef, who stepped up to the top level in fine style when grinding out a fine Falmouth victory, and they make this a top class renewal, whilst Queen Power, One Voice and Lavender’s Blue are all respected.

The Unibet You’re On Handicap – just like any of the 3yo only contests on the Sussex Downs this week – has a whole multitude of possible winners but it is impossible to ignore Starcat. A promising Kempton winner on his debut in December (beat runner up who is now rated 90), he was put into the 2,000 Guineas on just his second start, when he raced prominently behind the pace before being cut off by the advancing Military March and eventual winner Kameko, understandably fading late.

To underline how fast the early pace was, sectional analyst Simon Rowlands calculated that Frankel “would have been in mid-division on raw time (47.55s) at halfway in this year’s Guineas” and the eventual race winning time by Kameko was a record that’s more than two lengths quicker than the previous best of Mister Bailey. Now the Guineas was run on firm ground and with a tailwind, but that was still a huge amount of natural ability, and the horses that finished ahead of him speak for themselves (Kameko, Wichita, Pinatubo, Military March, Juan Elcarno and Kinross).

Starcat’s run in the Britannia has to be a throwout – he got stuck in the ground and had a bad draw – and whilst I’m not sure 10 furlongs is going to be his ideal trip (and he’s drawn 10) there has to be a chance he’s better than 94 on a decent surface, which we should hopefully get here, at least in comparison to Ascot. The booking of Oisin Murphy is an extra assurance.

In the Richmond Stakes (2.15) Yazaman is a relatively strong selection, following on from his July Stakes second when he appeared to beat Coventry Stakes second Qaader fair and square. The Windsor Castle form appears to be working out at least the equal – or maybe even a bit better than the Coventry and he’s preferred to not only Qaader, but Coventry seventh and eighth Lauded and Admiral Nelson.

It remains to be seen how strong the Derby form actually is, but most of the horses that ran there are worth giving another chance and English King is fairly strongly fancied to get back on the winning trail. A deeply impressive winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial, he was one of many fancied runners who never had a real chance to catch Serpentine at Epsom, but was the second fastest finisher of the whole race, covering the last quarter of a mile in 39.03s, with a 114.2% finishing speed (times thanks to Simon Rowlands).

With a clear run and what should surely be a fairer pace scenario, English King makes a great deal of appeal and he is capable of proving himself the best horse from the Derby here, whilst hopefully proving too strong for Al Alsy, an impressive winner of the Bahrain Trophy when last seen.

There were a couple of tempting angles into the Gusbourne Nursery Handicap (3.45) but William Bligh (gave top-class 2yo Master Of The Seas, an impressive Group 2 winner since, before getting off the mark in good style at Haydock) is a fair price and annoyingly, so too is Running Back (second to Qaader on debut, clear of rest, and then not suited by small field sprint at Kempton last time) so there’s no obvious value angle into the race.

Last but not least, we’ll try our luck at Galway in an extremely high class Galway Hurdle (6.45) with Aramon, who may be topweight but is thoroughly deserving of it after his fine second in the County Hurdle and his excellent win in the Grimes Hurdle. It’s been a long time since a horse won the Galway Hurdle with that sort of weight, but he’s hardly badly handicapped – a lbs higher rating than he has for his County Hurdle second is a fair mark, and 7/1 is tempting enough to chance him.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Starcat 1 pt each/way 1.45 Goodwood at 11/1 with
BACK Yazaman 2 pts win in 2.15 Goodwood at 13/8 with
BACK English King 3 pts win in 2.45 Goodwood at 6/5 with
BACK Deirdre 2 pts win in 3.15 Goodwood at 5/1 with
BACK Aramon 1 pt win in 6.45 Galway at 7/1 with

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 230.05 points
(Excluding Cheltenham 2021 antepost, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials)