Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 3 Preview, Tips
Two days down, three to go at the 2019 Qatar Goodwood Festival, more affectionately known as Glorious Goodwood. The Thursday card has as its pinnacle the Group 1 Nassau Stakes, a mile and a quarter contest for fillies and mares. With the Group 2 Richmond Stakes and the Group 3 Gordon Stakes, a St Leger trial, in support it is another excellent card.
1.50 Unibet Handicap (Class 2, 1m 1f 197 yds, 3yo)
Another Unibet-sponsored handicap called the Unibet Handicap to kick us off, and if you’re confused you’re not alone. Still, it’s the sponsor’s prerogative I guess. Anyway, this is a ten-furlong three-year-old affair where, happily, most have a bit of form in the book.
The obvious place to start is Mark Johnston, who has won this race on seven occasions, the most recent of which was last year. He runs two this time, War Command and The Trader. Both ran at Newmarket’s July meeting last time, the former contesting a mile handicap without much success. A feature of Johnston’s seven winners has been that they all ran over a mile and a quarter-plus on their prior start. On that basis, The Trader might be the more playable of the pair, especially at an early 16/1.
He has failed to win in four 2019 starts but has been second in two of them, both over this trip and in this grade. Given his trainer’s record, and Joe Fanning’s ability from the front, he may take the son of Mastercraftsman to the front from stall two and bid to make all. He’s a big price.
More obvious form contenders might be Walkinthesand, who had Korcho (second) and The Trader behind him when winning a class and distance handicap last time. He’s been elevated another five pounds for that and, though progressive, he’ll have to be good to win this off 110.
Korcho gets a two pound weight pull for a length beating but I’d not be at all convinced that will turn the form around, the weights and measures of British racing often failing the narrowly vanquished at the hands of classier rivals.
John Gosden runs Forest Of Dean with this eleven-week absent Iffraaj colt bidding to defy the layoff stats: only one of 93 horses to have been off the track for more than a month has won this contest since 1997. Forest Of Dean last ran in the high class London Gold Cup Handicap at Newbury where he was fourth to Headman (winner of a French Group 2 on his sole start since). Second there was Sinjaari, who himself has been away since running below par in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot. He never seemed to get going that day and is surely better than that; the 42 day rest is a minor reservation, however.
I’m not mad about Dalaalaat stepping up in trip, nor do I think this (probably) even paced ten furlongs will suit Almania who is cutting back from a mile and a half. But the Irish challenger, Wargrave, stepping up a furlong having stayed on well last time is worth a second glance. Running for the first time in a handicap, trainer Fozzy Stack has booked Jamie Spencer to do the steering. Spencer was on board when Wargrave was sixth in the German 2000 Guineas and is likely to deploy a more prominent run style than may be expected of the famously late delivering rider.
Ultimately, although this is normally won by a horse at a single figure price, I think The Trader is too big at 16/1. Walkinthesand could go in again but is priced accordingly, so I’ll swing at that Johnston outsider and back him up with 14/1 Wargrave, both for small each way money.
2.25 Qatar Richmond Stakes (Group 2, 6f, 2yo)
A six furlong juvenile contest, with the horses finishing 2358 in the Coventry all showing up. The ‘2’ in that string was/is Richard Hannon’s Threat. The trainer made bullish statements prior to Royal Ascot and was only narrowly denied by a Coolmore’s Arizona. With that rival not appearing here, the route looks clear for another bold bid in a race where Hannon has a fine record (won it in 2016 and 2014 from just six runners).
A neck and a place behind Threat in the Coventry was Guildsman, for whom this easier track might suit better. If that’s the positive, the negative is that he’s been beaten in the July Stakes since. In his defence, he didn’t get the smoothest of passages there, and it might also be the case that he’d prefer a little juice in the ground. If that’s right, things could set up ideally this time. As a Qatari-owned runner in the Qatar Richmond Stakes, you don’t need to be Einstein to work out that he’ll be primed for the gig.
The Clive Cox-trained Golden Horde was fifth in that previous match up but with few excuses. His trainer is in excellent form right now but I feel he might just lack the upside of some of these. Not a very scientific statement, I grant you, so egg on face may ensue!
Maxi Boy is the fourth from the Coventry to line up. Beaten four lengths in midfield there, he was stepped up to seven in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last time and ran well in third. He flattened out in the final furlong in a manner which suggested this return to six is favourable. Whether he quite has the toe of the top of the market I’m not sure.
David Probert rides Symbolize, who backed up a debut five furlong win with a fine fourth in the Windsor Castle. This is a step up in both class and distance which, while I hope he can bridge it, doesn’t give him the credentials of some of his rivals.
It’s always hard to peg two-year-olds in races such as these, but THREAT (5/2) does look a very smart and speedy colt. He perhaps needs to jump a little more alertly than he did at Ascot; if he does, he has a very good chance. Guildsman (5/1) is your ‘each way bet to nothing’ and there are worse (though probably not too many less imaginative) forecast plays than sticking this pair together on the same exacta ticket.
3.00 Qatar Gordon Stakes (Group 3, 1m 3f 218yds, 3yo)
The Goodwood Derby, as nobody has ever referred to this race. Ahem. It is, though, a mile and a half contest for three-year-olds only. Moreover, it has historically been a happy hunting ground for St Leger aspirants. That epithet may be a little uncharitable to a race which in recent times has produced such high calibre winners as Cross Counter, Crystal Ocean, Ulysses, Highland Reel, Noble Mission, Harbinger, Conduit and Sixties Icon. In many ways that’s a more impressive alumni than the Derby itself!
As those who know their trainer onions from their tomatoes will immediately recognise from that list, Sir Michael Stoute is the man to follow, notching up seven Gordon’s this century. It will come as a tonic to other handlers that SMS is unrepresented this time around. (No more cheap gin puns, I promise).
Aidan O’Brien has only sparingly used the Gordon Stakes a springboard, winning twice (Highland Reel, Yellowstone) – and placing with three more – from ten runners. He saddles the likely favourite, Constantinople, a ten furlong Group 3 winner before being beaten in a Royal Ascot handicap over this trip. In fairness, he should probably have won there, a stablemate climbing over the top of him at the death, and it was a progressive performance for all that it was in handicap company.
Constantinople is rated 110, as are Spanish Mission and Jalmoud. Spanish Mission has improved notably since stepping up in trip, first when second in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes here and then when running away with the Bahrain Trophy (Nayef Road four lengths second) at Newmarket. He looks capable of taking another stride forward and that course form is an added plus.
Jalmoud has been campaigned largely in France this season, a forgettable last placed finish in the Queen’s Vase aside. If you’ve been following my posts this week you’ll know I’m not keen on the 2019 French form, British horses plundering seemingly at will. This lad is a case in point: he claimed a Listed prize in May before finishing second to Headman (British) in a Group 2 and then third to Japan (Irish) in a Group 1. In fairness, that latter effort – in the Grand Prix de Paris – looks solid in the context of this race; but he’s had five runs already this year and lacks the scope of others.
Martyn Meade brings Technician, another to have won a Pattern race in France last time. He snaffled a Listed heat by a short neck but has more on here.
Two unexposed improvers are Dal Harrisgle and Leo De Fury. The first named has won the last three of four career starts, most recently in Class 3 handicap company. Clearly he has to leap forward to be competitive here, and being a son of Nathaniel he might be expected to appreciate the extra quarter mile. He doesn’t lack pace and ought to stay so he’s a lively dark horse.
Jessie Harrington has been in blistering form this year and sends unbeaten-in-two Leo De Fury across from Ireland. He’s won a Curragh maiden and a little Navan race by five lengths apiece and retains ‘could be anything’ status. Quantifying his level of performance is tricky. What we can say is that after just two races he is likely to have more in the locker; and his trainer doesn’t generally tilt at windmills.
It’s a fascinating renewal of the Gordon Stakes if a hard one in which to peg the value. Perhaps the best combination of form in the book and ability to improve comes with Spanish Mission (9/2), and I’ll take a chance on him at around 9/2 in a really intriguing contest.
3.35 Qatar Nassau Stakes (Group 1, 1m 1f 197yds, 3yo+ fillies/mares)
After the likes of Minding and Winter, we had a slightly sub-par renewal of the Nassau last term, and it could be the same again this time around unless dual Guineas winner, Hermosa, prevails.
She was highly impressive in beating 14 rivals in the 1000 Guineas by a length and more; and she was devastating in the Irish 1000 where she put four lengths into her closest pursuer, Pretty Pollyanna. It came as a shock when she was beaten in the Coronation Stakes at the end of what was a punishing triple Group 1 schedule. Having had six weeks away from the track, the daughter of Galileo (duh) stretches out to ten furlongs for the first time. She ought to see it out but that is not a given. Hermosa remains the pick of these on form and if she can replicate the Guineas level she’ll win.
If she cannot do that, it’s a much more open affair. Mehdaayih drops back in distance, having won a French Group 2 – can you spot a trend? – last time. Prior to that she was well enough beaten in the Oaks having been a ready winner of the Cheshire Oaks. She’s not obviously needing a drop in trip and she’s not shown herself to be Group 1 class yet. On those bases she’s not for me, though connections are obviously respected.
The Prix de Diane (French Oaks) winner, Channel, comes across the, erm, channel to take on the Brits. That Group 1 is run over an extended ten furlongs so she’s a distance (ish) G1 winner; but she is looking to buck a trend of French horses – three-year-olds in particular – being bashed up in their own jardins this term. The first six home there were separated by little more than a length with the only two British raiders, the 1-2 from a muddling Musidora, back in the ruck. While it is very likely she is the best French 3yo filly, it is also fairly probable that, in the European context, that is damning her with faint praise. Fair play and chapeau if she’s good enough but I couldn’t entertain her.
Maqsad reverts to the ten furlongs of the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes she won by five lengths (a further four lengths back to the third). That was immediately prior to travelling like the best filly in the Oaks before patently failing to stay the mile and a half there. She looks a progressive and classy filly and I’m somewhat surprised she’s as big as 7/1.
It would not be a huge surprise if Rawdaa was involved in the finish either. She has run close seconds to Lah Ti Dar and Move Swiftly in Group 2 contests the last twice and this looks her trip. As a Sir Michael Stoute runner, she can be expected to improve over time.
Sir Michael also saddles Sun Maiden, a beautifully bred Frankel filly who is a half-sister to Midday, three-time winner of the Nassau for the late great Sir Henry Cecil. She has been steadily improving this term, going from a Group 2 placing to a Listed win to a Group 3 win, all at this ten furlong trip. Her form suggests she may not be as comfortable on good to firm as softer turf meaning any slight ease in the ground could be in her favour. She’s a reasonable price – 12/1 – though others are preferred by this scribe.
Connections of the Japanese challenger, Deirdre, were somewhat undone by the soft ground at Ascot. Their mare is a lot better than she showed that day and, if it does ride on the quick side, she could go close to the frame. She was second in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup in December at this range.
It’s a crackingly competitive renewal of the Nassau Stakes, with the clear form standard, Hermosa, looking to prevail at a longer trip after a disappointing run last time. She may very well bounce back but there is plenty of each way value in the race. My eye is drawn to MAQSAD (7/1): she was fiercely impressive in the Pretty Polly, travelled like the winner before failing to get home in the Oaks, and reverts to ten furlongs now. She’s a very attractive each way play and perhaps even NAP material.
4.10 Telegraph Nursery Handicap (Class 2, 7f, 2yo)
A big field two-year-old handicap sounds like mission impossible. It may transpire as just that but history (provided by the excellent trends content at horseracebase.com) offers hope with the head of the market heading the field past the lollipop nine times in the last 22 years (and thrice in the last six years).
It is very hard to win from a high draw in a big field handicap over seven furlongs. In this race, all of the last fifteen winners were drawn nine or fewer from the rail (the two stall 10 winners came in fields where there were non-runners drawn inside them). Berths four to seven (seven of the last nine winners) seem ideal.
19 of the 22 winners since 1997 were handicap debutants. That accounts for most of the runners but still has a positive expectation.
Messrs Johnston and Hannon (plus dad prior to license handover) have bagged four of the last six, and plenty more before then (nine of the last 22). They collectively saddle five of the 17 this time. Johnston’s Fred has won the last two of three career races, and steps into handicap company off a perch of 87. Fred’s two victories came by an aggregate of 0.15 lengths (a head and a nose) making it tricky to peg his level. Drawn in stall seven he ticks the trendy boxes.
The same trainer’s Governor Of Punjab has a very similar profile: a winner of both starts since a debut defeat, and most recently by a fine margin. He, too, has an encouraging draw, in five, and will be steered by Ryan Moore.
The final handicap first-timer in the golden draw segment is Indian Creak, ridden by David Probert. A slowish learner, he finally won at the fourth time of asking last time out on his first try at this seven panel range. He made all there to score by three lengths for which he has been elevated a reasonable-looking three pounds in the ratings. That gives him a lovely racing weight and a chance to be prominent throughout.
Pick of the Hannon pair may be Willa, a Dutch Art filly yet to win in her obligatory three runs prior to handicap bow. She’s had a month off since the third of that trio of qualifiers and will jump from stall three.
Lots more with some sort of a chance, of course, but I’ll pick from that shortlist. The market has proved a strong guide to the Telegraph Nursery winner. With no prices up at time of writing, I’m guessing that Fred will be close to the head of the lists but I’ll take a chance with another well-drawn last day winner, Indian Creak. He was much the best on the tricky Epsom track and his trainer, Mick Channon, has ‘previous’ in the race, winning in 2015.
4.45 EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Class 2, 7f, 2yo)
Maiden. Fillies. Not for me.
One who will be primed is the Qatari-owned Hannon-trained unpronounceable Al Dawodiya (sounds like a Cockney geezer saying, “How do you do?”). Stereotypes and parochiality aside, she represents upwardly mobile stallion Gutaifan but is not ideally housed in 11.
Mark Johnston won this last year, and he tries again with a pair of fillies. Knowing nothing of the unraced African Swift, guesser’s preference is for the once-raced Tulip Fields. Drawn in stall one she has a chance to attempt a repeat of her bid to make all last time. That ended in noble failure, a length second, and she’ll be smarter for the experience.
The market will tell you what else is fancied. Frankly, I haven’t a clue.
5.20 Tatler Handicap (Class 3, 5f, 3yo)
Here we go. A big field five furlong dash for three-year-olds only. Let’s narrow things down a bit thanks to our friends at horseracebase. 20 of the 23 winners (including two in a dead heat) since 1997 ran top six on their previous start. Those off more than 60 days have not shown the requisite fitness. Just four winners since 1997 (from 68 starters) had never won previously at the distance: they have a negative expectation and are removed.
And yet we still have eleven of our 17 standing. Perhaps we ought to resort to the form… the problem with that is it is very hard (for me at least) to discern which of these has the best form.
I’ll naturally be cheering David on Pink Flamingo. The horse has a chance: she’s battled hardened, fit, stays further but has winning form at five, and is very consistent. The big field is a niggle but her unfashionable, though likeable, trainer Michael Attwater means he ought to be a fair price. She was bought out of Mark Johnston’s yard for just £10,000 in March and has repaid that already, training fees notwithstanding.
Tinto also takes the eye. Winner over a fast five last time, the drop back to the minimum has eked out further improvement after a few unplaced efforts at six.
And a mention also for Amplify. Oisin Murphy takes the mount and will bid to get this front-ranker to the lead from the rail draw in 17. Although it will be a tough ask to repel 16 rivals, Amplify stays further and is clearly progressive having won a maiden over six prior to his handicap score over five last time. If he gets the start right he’ll give supporters a run for their pennies.
Very difficult stuff to close and every chance I’ve failed to mention the winner.
I’m pinning a fair amount of faith in the non-staying Oaks filly this afternoon, a race which has the scope to define my wagering week. Yikes!