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
This is a flat season that will go down in history – for reasons good and bad – and this year’s Glorious Goodwood and Galway Festivals, both usually incredible hotspots of human activity, will look very different this week as the runners and riders tackle two of the most unique racecourse on earth in the absence of spectators – at least until Saturday in the case of Goodwood, which will be holding a trial event for members to return to the course. It is hoped that in due time, we also see on course bookmakers – who have suffered so hard during the pandemic – restored to their full glory.
The first race of betting interest is the 1.45, a high class ten-furlong handicap which brings unexposed improvers into contact with plenty of strong handicap form to boot. There might be a contender who offers both in the shape of Bell Rock, who went off the boil as a highly tried three-year-old but who bounced back when making an impressive handicap debut, coming from last to grab a Newmarket contest when the majority of winners had come from the front.
He was well fancied for the Royal Hunt Cup and didn’t disgrace himself when finishing sixth (although some of his backers might have been a tad disappointed). On that occasion he was outsped by the main competitors, but lost little in defeat and might benefit from this new trip here. The form of the Hunt Cup couldn’t have worked out any better; The winner (Dark Vision) and runner up (Monatham) were 1-2 in the Coral Challenge next time out (and Dark Vision also won a Pontefact Listed contest), and third Pogo bolted up at Windsor in listed company before finishing third in the Prix d’Ispahan, so the form reads very well. As always, luck will be needed from stall 4, but he’s entitled to go well here.
Arguably the other form horse is Fifth Position, who was again highly tried in group company last season before finishing eighth in the Cambridgeshire. On his return he was third behind Sir Busker (winner of the Silver Hunt Cup and then 2nd in Bunbury Cup) and Dark Vision (Hunt Cup winner, then won listed race afterwards) whilst finishing ahead of Saturday’s York winner Firmament to boot. After winning well at Doncaster, he was then best of those who raced close to the pace when third in the John Smith’s Cup and all tat form gives him a fine chance.
The call in the Vintage Stakes (2.15) is to take on Battleground, who appears very short on the bare form of his Chesham win, even if he was in control there during the final furlong.
Devious Company may have run to a higher level when second in the Superlative Stakes behind the very exciting Master Of The Seas (King Zain sixth) and that form entitles him to be seriously involved here. Youth Spirit, a promising fourth on debut behind Magical Company, is respected but comes here on 7lbs worse terms, whilst Dark Lion should hopefully enjoy a more strongly run race here than he had at Wolves when stepped upto this trip for the first time, but now needs to prove the Coventry form (which has taken a few knocked since) is upto scratch.
If anything, Coventry fifth Painless Potter (Thunder of Niagara sixth), who took much longer to respond than Dark Lion at Ascot, might be the one to take out of the Coventry stepped up in trip, but the call is leave that form on balance.
All those contenders are respected but can be opposed on balance, and there might be value in the shape of Gorytus. One of 11 juvenile winners for Richard Fahey this season, he was relatively unconsidered at York on debut in a strong looking maiden and was one off the first off the bridle, not travelling as well as the leading market pair Jadoomi or Star Of Orion, but once he found his second win he made up at least two lengths to come and grab the race on the line.
That he took his time to get going isn’t a surprise (second foal of a 2m AW winner) and the form of what he achieved on debut is taking. Runner up Star Of Orion had won on debut at Newcastle, and third Jadoomi, who was well backed and travelled up menacingly, was ahead of Youth Spirit in the strong Haydock maiden which has worked out nicely. Richard Fahey recommended the Acomb Stakes for Gorytus when he won at York so clearly thinks a lot of him, and it’s an endorsement that he runs here, where he’s too big at 16/1. Fountain Cross and Kraken Star look overmatched.
In a quality renewal of the Lennox Stakes (2.45) Safe Voyage, who has a much better draw than his Haydock conqueror Space Blues, is the pick in a ferociously contested renewal where plenty of contenders, not least Sir Dancelot, have a realistic chance on paper.
From this quarter the Goodwood Cup (3.15) is a race one cannot wait for, but there is not great reason to back Stradivarius or Santiago at their current odds, and no other contenders made any sort of appeal from any angle. That said, it is a race any racing fan should be looking forward to watching.
There ought to be a strong pace in the Qatar Handicap (3.45) which should really suit Celsius, but the market has cottoned onto that now and there’s no obvious value in that or the other contests on the card.
There is a quality set of contests at Galway, but again no horse – when considering the draw, likely ground, or pace – made enough appeal to put forward here. Good luck to all who play at either venue.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Bell Rock 1 pt each/way 1.45 Goodwood at 9/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Fifth Position 1 pt each/way 1.45 Goodwood at 8/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Devious Company 1 pt win 2.15 Goodwood at 7/2 with starsports.bet
BACK Gortyus 1 pt each/way in 2.15 Goodwood at 16/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Safe Voyage 1 pt win in 2.45 Goodwood 1 pt at 9/2 with starsports.bet
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