Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 4 Preview, Tips
Friday at Glorious Goodwood – sorry, the Qatar Goodwood Festival – is one of my favourite day’s racing in the entire calendar. It has the perfect blend of top class racing, a relaxed but social environment, a spectacular backdrop and, usually, good weather. I’ve been a regular visitor on this day for most of a decade but, alas, have had to forego such joys this year due to Mrs Matt’s brother getting married. Most inconvenient!
To the races…
1.50 Oak Tree Stakes (Group 3, 7f, 3yo+ fillies/mares)
A huge field Group 3 where the seven furlong track bias will be in play. I was looking for a French filly to go with after the wins in 2015-17 by Francois Rohaut’s femmes, and was leaning towards Devant at a massive price. But she has totally lucked out with the draw and looks very likely to be a sob story in the straight. I might still end up having 20p e/w on her, but stall 13 makes life very tricky.
The other French filly in the field is Rocques, drawn eight. She looked a progressive juvenile last season, culminating with a Group 3 win at Longchamp in the autumn, but has been flat as a crepe in three runs this term. Nevertheless, you have to wonder why she’s been sent across la Manche if connections don’t consider this appropriate. On the plus side, it’s a drop in both grade and distance, and there might be enough there to legitimise an ambitious small tilt.
More obvious, and ostensibly better drawn, is Jubiloso from stall six. Her elevation from novice company to Group 1 Coronation Stakes for a trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, not known to rush his charges stuck out like a sore thumb last time and the half-sister to Frankel ran a blinder to finish third. She ought to have plenty more in the tank and is a worthy favourite, if a little short at sub-2/1.
Stall one has been victorious on six occasions since 1997, and that charmed berth will house Angel’s Hideaway. Rab Havlin keeps the ride on a filly who has run well without winning a number of times this season, principally when fourth in the 1000 Guineas and third in the Jersey Stakes. From the plum draw she ought again to be in the shake up whilst perhaps being a little more exposed than some in the field.
And trap two has been blessed as well, which kind of makes sense, really, does it not? Since 1997, five winners exited this stall, meaning half of the 22 winners of the Oak Tree Stakes since 1997 were drawn 1 or 2. The ‘Raif’ Beckett-trained Blizzard will race from two on her second start as a four-year-old. Her final three-year-old run was a victory in a big field seven furlong Listed race at Fontainebleu, but she disappointed in a handicap on her sole spin this campaign. There’s every chance she’ll come on for the run but she’s a good bit to find with a few of these even allowing for the advantage of her starting situation.
Those drawn six or lower have won all bar five of the 22 Oak Tree’s since 1997. Beyond Reason, in stall three, is a Godolphin runner from the Charlie Appleby yard. She won twice in French Group company last term but was a little flat on her seasonal bow three weeks ago at Sandown. She has something to prove after that, though the drop back to seven and the kind draw are both positives.
Pretty Baby won this last year but she’s been drawn very wide for her repeat bid. Stall 16 would be a new record for the widest winning draw and, even with hold up expert Jamie Spencer in the plate, it looks a box (or three) too far.
Seven furlong and Goodwood specialist, Billesdon Brook, is also parked wide, though perhaps not insurmountably so, in ten. She won the nursery on this card (in the picture at the top of this post) two seasons back before snaring a course and distance Group 3 later that year. Of course, she famously won the 1000 Guineas last year (beating Laurens no less) and ran with credit thereafter in G1 company, including in the Nassau here over a too-far ten furlongs.
Rated 115 at the start of the year she’s now adjudged to be just 104. Thus she’s gone from being the best filly in the race to the fifth best; at Goodwood, however, she can be marked up at least three or four pounds.
33/1 Lyzbeth is a heck of a price. Drawn five, she’s stepping up from novice fare to a Group 3 – and a deep enough one at that – but the form of that last day triumph has been very well advertised (2nd, 3rd and 4th all won since, albeit in lower grade). On just her third outing she is entitled to improve again and she ought to get a prominent position. Whether she’s good enough is another question entirely, but she’s the wrong price if perhaps not massively so.
This is one of those races where the top five or six (or seven or eight) in the draw can be fairly confidently lobbed – cue 17/18/19 drawn trifecta! That makes for a bit of value about whatever you like inside, unless the draw theory comes unstuck, natch.
JUBILOSO is bred to be a champ and has shown a glimpse of such promise already. She is priced like a champ, too, and that’s why I’m reluctantly, and perhaps foolishly, looking beyond her. That leaves a good number to go at. Billesdon Brook is my main each way and ‘without’ play. She has terrific course form, bundles of back class, and has been in fair form (at a slightly lower level) in recent times. 14/1 is fine.
Angel’s Hideaway can give backers a run, but she’s not for me this time even with the one stall. Rather, I’ll be taking two further small flyers on Rocques (25/1, down in trip and class, presumably not sailed over for nothing) and Lyzbeth (33/1, upwardly mobile, unexposed, form decent from her last run).
It’ll be an interesting race, for sure.
2.25 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes (Group 3, 1m, 3yo)
This mile Group 3 for three-year-olds has a largely middling pedigree, truth be told. Last year’s winner, Beat The Bank, may be about the pick from this century and, being generous, he could just be heralding a new dawn for the race. It’s certainly true that there are a number of unexposed lightly-raced contenders in the Thoroughbred Stakes class of 2019.
Picking between them is tricky. Duke Of Hazzard is top on ratings, a Listed score over a mile last time coming on the back of fifth place in the G3 Jersey Stakes. That’s fair enough form but no more, and it would be disappointing to think that one or two of his rivals – or indeed he himself – cannot better that.
Next on ratings are Turgenev, famously second when Frankie was racking up a huge accumulator at Ascot, and Duke Of Hazzard’s closest rival last time, Momkin. The latter is consistent at around this grade without winning and he may again claim a minor piece of the pie. Turgenev ran to a good level and might, argue some though not me, have won the Britannia with a more measured ride. He’s since finished fourth behind the Duke and Momkin and is another who is currently falling between handicap and minor Pattern class stools.
King Ottokar has a cocktail of Group race form, steady progression and in-form trainer which could see him go close. The Charlie Fellowes inmate was a good third to Sangarius in the G3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, and that stacks up well enough in this context.
Art Du Val is a dark’un: all thee of his runs since a Sandown novice win have come abroad. He followed up second in a Deauville Listed race (behind Duke Of Hazzard, where are the good French horses?) last backend with a Meydan score in February before victory in another French Listed heat, this time at Saint Cloud, completed his record to date. His pedigree – by No Nay Never out of a Rainbow Quest mare – offers mixed messages, as does his form profile. I have to let him beat me if he can.
Biometric is three from four, including being the stopper in that Britannia Handicap. Raised nine pounds for winning there, he’s still only viewed as the seventh best horse in the field at this stage. That may underestimate his prospects, pretty much all of his form working out well. I like his tactical versatility and his upward profile.
I Could Do Better will have to live up to his name to enhance his unbeaten run to four career starts. He is tongue tied for the first time on this four grade rise. Turjomaan, likewise unbeaten in three (though DQ’d for being ineligible on the first of them), is another with plenty of potential most of which will need to be instantly fulfilled to win.
It’s a tricky race and not one I especially like from a betting viewpoint: we have to make excuses or project forward across the entire field to make a case. Perhaps Biometric is worth sticking with. He has a combination of being almost unbeaten and having run to a rock solid level, with the promise of more to come. That makes 8/1 in a place, and 7/1 generally worth a small go.
3.00 Unibet Golden Mile Handicap (Class 2, 1m, 3yo+)
It may sound bonkers that the biggest draw bias race of the season is in a race run over a mile, but the Golden Mile Handicap – this very race – can lay a strong claim to match that billing. Twenty will face the starter, with the bottom seven stalls (after non-runners) having been responsible for 18 of the last 22 winners. That’s 82% of the winners coming from 36% of the runners (+14.75). Looking at the places, 51 of the 88 placed horses (58%) came from that 36% of the runners.
And focusing on the inside three stalls (1-3) after non-runners gives us this:
– 11 of 22 winners (50% of the winners from 16% of the runners, +34.25)
– 23 of 88 placers (26% of the placers from 16% of the runners)
Stay low. Or at least avoid high.
Here is the overall picture in all Goodwood 16+ runner fast ground handicaps over a mile (2009+, ‘actual’ draw, i.e. accounting for non-runners).
If you want to bet a high drawn horse you won’t find any words of encouragement hereabouts. Focusing low to maybe middle, then, brings us first to the bottom three stalls.
Beat Le Bon has stall three and a progressive profile. Trained by Richard Hannon, he’s won his last two, but his hold up style means he’ll need plenty of luck up the paint – when any number are clambering over each other for a wider run, and lugging in to boot – to notch the hat-trick. It’s a braver man than me backing Beat.
What’s The Story is far more like it. Winner of a big field York handicap over a mile, he has a stalking run style and Keith Dalgleish has booked Goodwood expert (see Dirty Rascal, for instance) Tom Marquand for the gig. Stepping back from ten furlongs ought to see this five year old on the premises. 16/1 with bookies who won’t take a bet and 14/1 with some who will is value.
Game Player, for the Varian team, exits stall one. He’s been consistent this term including when a keeping on second over seven furlongs here two back and, if able to hold a position in the early fractions, he’ll offer a run to his supporters.
Hannon has lucked in with the draw, his other entry, War Glory, getting stall four. This guy has been busy through the season so far, winning a nice pot at Chelmsford and running better than the bare result in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot. Disappointing in a brace of small field handicaps since, it could be that this return to a cavalry charge – and it’s accompanying pace – suits him far better.
The favourite is Mojito, drawn nine. William Haggas’s five-year-old was very well backed on his return from a year and a half off the track when winning nicely at Sandown four weeks ago, and Frankie retains the ride. Up only three pounds for that success, the question may be whether he ‘bounces’ second time after that marathon layoff.
Closest to Mojito at Sandown was Escobar, a regular in these big field mile handicaps. He’s perennially on the premises without quite falling in, though he did pick up a relatively small prize last time at York. Stall twelve is far from ideal but shy of the death knell to his chance.
Afaak (14) and Clon Coulis (18), first and second in the Hunt Cup (I backed Clon, and was saying something similar to Afaaaaaak immediately afterwards), have tough posts and would be surprise winners in that context.
One at a bigger price whose form ties in well enough is Zhui Feng. Nominally weighted to reverse placings with Game Player on course running in May (7f), he is another who can normally be relied on to bring his game to the big handicaps. Seventh of 17 in the 2017 renewal of this race, when he led on soft ground before finishing less than four lengths behind the winner, he may hold out a little longer on expected quicker terrain from stall seven. 33/1 is chunky for all that he’s pretty exposed.
A typically exciting race in prospect and I’m firmly of the view that a single figure draw is almost imperative. If I’m wrong about that, I’ll have done my dough; if I’m right, I’ve halved the field at a stroke. The main one I want to be with is What’s The Story. Ascendant this term, he’s got a great draw and the right running style to take advantage of it. His rider knows the track well and 14/1 with the usual extra places is the way to go.
Mojito has fine prospects if replicating the level of his Sandown effort but there are reasons to doubt whether that’s possible. I prefer chancing the May course form of Game Player and Zhui Feng at 14/1 and 33/1 respectively. There should not be that much between their respective prices: they are weighted to finish very close to each other and both are credible on draw and run style.
If you don’t like betting three at double digit odds, you’ll have to choose between that trio (or, obviously, back your own judgement). Me? I’ll take three off the tee and cheer them all.
3.35 King George Qatar Stakes (Group 2, 5f, 3yo+)
BATTAASH just wins. And he should be a sight to behold.
What? You want more?
On the form of his second in the Group 1 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot last time, he wins.
On the form of his 2.5L win the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock two back, he wins.
On the form of his 3/4L fourth in the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp three back, he wins.
On the form of his four length victory in this race last year, he wins.
He is miles better than these and, though I don’t have enough three’s to purloin a few more one’s, the 1/3 is not in any way unfair.
4.10 Unibet Nursery Handicap (Class 2, 6f, 2yo)
From the sublimely certain to the perplexingly ridiculous.
Low draws – far side – have fared really well in this: eight of the last 15 winners exited stalls one to four.
Mark Johnston’s Eton College is on a hat-trick having won a Brighton maiden and an Ascot handicap, and he’ll bid to make all from trap four. There are lots of other pace angles, many of them from Johnston runners, but PJ McDonald may just be able to bounce and bag the far rail.
I’ll not pretend I have a handle on this nursery form, so it’s an educated guess on Eton College (geddit?!). No prices available at time of writing.
4.40 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Glorious Stakes (Group 3, 1m 3f 218yds, 4yo+)
This is a race that always seems to struggle to pull a big field together, the last seven renewals failing to muster three paying places for punters. There will be no exception to that unwelcome rule here as just five go to post. Happily there is some quality in their midst, most notably last year’s winner, Mirage Dancer.
A quick look at Instant Expert – which displays UK/Ire form lines only – reveals plenty about the Sir Michael Stoute-trained son of Frankel’s affection for Goodwood, a track where his dad romped in the Sussex Stakes twice. Here, I’ve clicked on the 3’s in the Course column for Mirage Dancer and, as you can see, it highlights the selected boxes and displays inline the relevant form lines. Which I have to say I think it pretty freaking neat 🙂
What it tells us loud and clear is that this horse is at home here, over this trip, on this ground and in small fields. He has to go close again, unless there are any wolves in sheep’s clothing in opposition.
Closest of official figures (as can be seen from the blue right hand Rating ‘T’ (Today) column) is Desert Encounter. David Simcock’s globe-trotting seven-year-old nabbed a massive pot when bagging the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine last October, picking up almost £300,000 on that transatlantic jaunt.
A subsequent stop off in Meydan was less lucrative, though he didn’t return home empty-handed, and he has since taken a couple of spins to get back to his level since returning to these shores. The feeling is that he’ll be gearing up towards another international mission this autumn though he does have one good run at the track, when second in the 2017 renewal of the Listed race won the last twice by Mirage Dancer.
Prince Of Arran is another to have been contesting away fixtures in his most recent runs, though they’ve not actually been that recent. He won a Grade 3 handicap at Flemington last November before backing up three days later with a superb third in the Melbourne Cup at the same track. There is a niggle in my mind that he’s again being prepped for overseas battles ahead and he’s overlooked on that basis.
Mark Johnston is doing his bit for field sizes again this week and turns Aquarium around three days after a fair effort in the opening handicap of the meeting. Although having enough to find on the book, he could be a lone pace angle against a quartet of ‘after you Claude’s’. In truth, that ought to set it up for one of those with a kick and a lick more class.
Baghdad completes the five. A prolific winner of valuable big field mile and a half handicaps, he’ll find this gig quite different: there will be no strong tempo to finish off, no passage to negotiate through tiring horses. And, as he showed last time in a small field tactical Group 2, he probably doesn’t have the turn of pace required for such a mission at this level. He’d not be for me this time.
This year’s Glorious Stakes has the potential to be a muddling affair with no obvious pace angle. Aquarium is one of those rare Johnston horses which does not normally go forward, although of course he has led in his past. He remains the most likely leader in a quintet of reluctant front-rankers and he ought to set it up for one of Desert Encounter or MIRAGE DANCER. The latter has more compelling, if better advertised, claims to Glorious glory. He’s unlikely to make you rich if completing the course four-timer.
5.20 TDN Australia Handicap (Class 3, 1m 3f 44yds, 3yo)
An impossible three-year-old handicap closes proceedings, as we are again asked to choose between any number of improving horses many of which are stepping up in trip and/or making their handicap debuts. At least we can use trainer records to assist.
One at which to take the smallest of speculative swipes against more fashionable connections might be Paul Cole’s High Commissioner. As can be seen from the inline trainer form below, Cole is in very good recent form. As pertinent, however, is his record at the track and also an ability to win with handicap debutants.
Those comments apply to plenty of his peers in the training ranks of this field, but we’re more likely to get a square price about our ‘value loser’ with the Commissioner; and that’s the game in the long run.
It would be easy enough to make a case for almost the entire field such is the deeply competitive nature of this race, so pays your money and takes your choice. Or pass and wait for Saturday.
And that, I’m afraid, is the last of my previews this week. I tend to leave the Saturday Festival cards to braver/brighter souls and have a long lie down in a darkened room away from the glare of the screen which has been my (almost) sole companion for far too many hours in the preceding week.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the words and pictures I’ve shared over the four days, and perhaps even found a winner…!