Glorious Goodwood 2014: Day 1 Preview / Tips
It's the start of the Glorious Goodwood Festival and, though I won't have time to cover all races every day, I do have space to go through the card for the opening day. Whether that's good news or not remains to be seen, of course, but there will hopefully be some fair pointers in the below.
Let's get to it...
1.55 BET365.COM STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2)
Just the eighteen runners to start with, in a handicap over a mile and a quarter. History points to those who finished in the top five last time out and are aged four or five as having the best record - such entries have won 12 of the last 17 renewals and were profitable to back blindly.
This year, Magic Hurricane, Sea Shanty, Salutation, Stomachian, Ajman Bridge, Tha'Ir, and Gworn make up the (not very) shortlist.
Mark Johnston looks to have the pace angles covered, with Sennockian Star, drawn in five, and Salutation - stall 16 - solid contenders to make the running. Joe Fanning is aboard Sennockian Star, a seriously hardy handicapper, and a horse that's made the frame in 17 of 32 career starts. Seven of those were wins, including this distance and class for his most recent victory.
From an inside draw, he should sit handy if not on the outright lead, and he has all the attributes to hang tough until late in the play. The reservation is that he's now rated 101, five pounds higher than that last winning mark, and it could be that he's hit his class ceiling now.
There doesn't look to be a heap of pace on, and it might be that Salutation can control things to some degree, even from a wide draw. He's won over this trip and further, and he has a good run on the course to his name too. Michael J Murphy keeps the ride, having beaten all bar Arab Spring in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot, but a sequence of solid efforts have seen him rise almost a stone in the handicap for not winning.
Sea Shanty represents last year's winning connections - Hannon and Hughes - and though dad has passed the training reins on to his son, you can be sure that the desire to win at Glorious Goodwood is as strong as ever in the Hannon household. The problem for Sea Shanty is that he's only run beyond a mile once, and that was a midfield effort when otherwise favoured by conditions.
Magic Hurricane has looked progressive on softish ground, with two wins and three places from just seven career starts. If the ground dries out any further, I'd be worried about this son of Hurricane Run handling it as he clearly acts well on sodden turf. The trip may also be on the sharp side, and it could all happen a little too fast for him. He's one to keep onside for later in the season though, no doubt.
The in-form pairing of Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore get their Goodwood party underway with Stomachian, a lightly raced Duke Of Marmalade gelding. He's won three times from eight starts, all at or around this trip. He's gone up the handicap eight pounds since his last win, but there's every chance he'll have improved that much in the intervening two months. Although drawn quite wide, Moore should be able to get a position in a packing field and, if the splits come, I think this fellow will be on the premises.
Ajman Bridge won his first two races, but has failed to add to that in five starts since. To be fair to him, he was just a neck behind Border Artist in a class and distance handicap last time, and this bigger field could suit him better. 'Filthy' Luca is in fine form at the moment, but Ajman has the car park draw to overcome which, for a prominent racer, could be a bad combination.
Tha'ir is interesting despite being joint top weight. He's earned that of course, and he's done it by running consistently well in good races. His ten furlong form is excellent, and reads 210223. The 0 was in a Glorious Goodwood handicap last year, but that may have come soon enough after a win just ten days prior. Rested for the best part of a month since a Listed third, he has a good draw and the tactical speed to use it. Silvestre de Sousa is an excellent jockey, and will give Tha'ir every chance.
Each way Selection: Tha'ir 16/1 Hills
Next best: Stomachian 6/1 SJ
Racebets are offering a free matched bet of up to £20 if you back the winner of any handicap on Day 1 (1.55, 3.40, 4.50, 5.20 races apply)
2.30 MOLECOMB STAKES (Group 3)
A five furlong Group 3 for juveniles, and one which has under-delivered in terms of highlighting future top class sprinters in recent years. Going back a bit further, however, the likes of Fleeting Spirit and Monsieur Chevalier emerged victorious en route to better things.
Horses that finished second to fourth last time have a much better ROI than last day winners, and it could pay to swerve the odds-on Beacon.
Even though Beacon has won his last three, including a four length verdict over Mukhmal, he's horribly short in a race of this nature. That Mukhmal drubbing was in a four runner race - Union Rose fourth - and though it's difficult to envisage either of the beaten horses reversing form, there are other viable contenders.
Principle among them may be Cotai Glory, who is rated just three pounds inferior to Beacon, and could appreciate the drop back to five after stopping in a six furlong Listed contest last time. He'd previously won a Bath maiden, having run with great promise when sixth in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot.
Mukhmal will bid to make all, but he's probably not going to last home. And, though Beacon is the most likely winner, there is a bean more value in Cotai Glory's price. He should track the Johnston runner, and have first chance to pounce.
If all eight stand their ground, then Fast Act - third to Tiggy Wiggy in the Super Sprint - could again claim minor honours at a decent price.
Value against Beacon: Cotai Glory 3/1 BOG SkyBet, who offer money back as a free bet if the favourite wins, or 7/2 PP
Each way if eight run: Fast Act 16/1 PP, bet365
Money back £5 to £25 if the favourite wins this race. The favourite is odds-on!
3.05 LENNOX STAKES (Group 2)
Seven furlongs for three year olds and up, and the first clash of the generations of the week. As I've written elsewhere, three year olds have a strong grip on this race - seven wins from fourteen renewals, from just 30% of the runners - and they have the jolly this time in the shape of Toormore.
This one time strong fancy for the 2000 Guineas has disappointed a bit since winning the Craven Stakes, but the drop in grade and distance gives him every chance of bouncing back.
He won't have it all his own way, of course, and amongst his rivals is last year's winner, Garswood. This chap has proven very hard to win with - he's failed to add to that 2013 Lennox success in four starts since - and he tends to run his best races with some give in the ground. A quick glance at the weather map suggests that is unlikely, and he's opposable for me.
Harder to discount on his overall form is Gregorian. Johnny G's five year old ran a fine third, staying on, in the Group 1 July Cup over six furlongs last time. The problem is that in two runs here at Goodwood he's run abominably both times. While one was in Group 1 company, the other was 'only' a Group 3 at a time when he'd just run 3rd in a Group 1. See the symmetry? Not for me.
Pace could be interesting here, with Toormore a possible to lead, but there are others who like to get on with it, including Glory Awaits and Boom And Bust. Glory Awaits won a seven furlong Listed event at Chester last time, but the balance of his efforts suggests he's about seven pounds south of what's needed to win this.
Boom And Bust won the Betfred Mile a couple of years back, so clearly stays and likes the tricky circuit here. Indeed, he's been in the frame on all four spins around the Sussex helter-skelter, including when a close up third behind Garswood in this last year. That was a valiant effort given his preference for fast ground, and he could offer a decent run for small money at a huge price.
German raider Amarillo is difficult to peg. He ran second to Fiesolana in a Group 2 at Newmarket last autumn, but then sunk without trace at Haydock earlier this year. Trip and ground will be no problem for him, but he just might not be up to this level. 14/1 in a place at least gives some scope to try him out.
Of the remainder, Professor was well beaten in this last year, and often flatters to deceive; and Es Que Love has been very difficult to win with in recent seasons (just one win from 32 starts since April 2012).
I suspect Toormore will win this, though more interestingly, perhaps, I think Boom And Bust might go close to making the frame.
Selection: Toormore 2/1 Skybet, Coral
Small each way: Boom And Bust 33/1 general
New Winner customers can get 4/1 on Toormore! Click here
3.40 SUMMER STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2)
A mile and three quarters handicap, and one in which 'Filthy' has a great record. He's had three winners and a second from just six starters in the past decade, so Havana Cooler is of immediate interest.
Cumani has been quoted as saying he expects the longer trip to suit, but he's worried about the draw. With very little pace in the race, I'm less concerned than Luca, and feel his four year old has a very good chance. On his only run over this trip, he was third in the always competitive Melrose Handicap, and has been carefully campaigned since then. And on his only run at this course, he stayed on takingly over a quarter mile shorter at last year's Glorious Goodwood meeting.
Adam Kirby rides, and they'll take some beating.
The best each way bet in the race could perhaps be Noble Silk. This chap has a 'line of green' profile on the place Instant Expert, meaning he's run into the frame much of the time in races over this trip, in this class, on this ground, and at this track. Oisin Murphy won on him two runs ago, and resumes the partnership off a mark just four pounds higher. Noble Silk is super consistent and can make the podium again.
Van Percy didn't get the run of the Northumberland Plate last time, but he was a good winner over this trip, and on good to firm ground, the time before in a Class 2 handicap. He's got six pounds more this time, which doesn't make him obviously well weighted, though, and he might just find a couple better in on the day.
Sir Mark Prescott can be pretty handy in these sort of races, and his Big Thunder is a player. Trapped out wide and getting no run in the aforementioned Plate on his first run of the season, Big Thunder racked up five wins last summer, culminating in a Class 3 victory over this trip. Only four pounds higher than that win, and with a good draw to sit on or close to the pace, he's yet another that could get involved.
It's a very tough puzzle is this, and I'll be trying to get through the placepot in the main. I suspect Havana Cooler is the one, but he's short enough at 9/2. At bigger prices, Noble Silk and Big Thunder both have place prospects.
Most likely winner: Havana Cooler 9/2 PP
Each way alternatives: Noble Silk 12/1 general, Big Thunder 14/1 Skybet
Paddy are giving customers money back as a free bet if their horse is 2nd OR 3rd in this race!
4.50 BET365 STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 3)
You're on your own in the maiden at 4.15, which brings us to this mile handicap contested by a twenty-strong field. The mile course and a big field brings in the tight turn, and a low drawn prominent racer stands to get first run on others in the peloton. Those best fitting that bill are Maverik, Extremity, Bountybeamadam and possibly Skytrain.
Maverik has had two spins round here and been soundly beaten on both of them; he makes little appeal. But the inside drawn Extremity could make a strong bid under Ryan Moore. Trainer Hugo Palmer won this last year, and apparently like this horse a lot. He's going to have to step up on what he's shown so far, but can do so in first time cheekpieces and with just seven runs to his name. He'll likely get a lead from Maverik and be close enough if good enough, as the old cliché goes.
Bountybeamadam comes here on a hat-trick after a couple of Class 5 handicap wins. This is a big step up in grade, but there's every chance of Pat Cosgrave attempting to make all from a favourable trap in six, assuming he can clear Maverik and Extremity. That last time out win was her first run at a mile, and she saw it out really well, lending hope to the notion that she may have more to come at the trip. All in all, she could lead at least until the furlong pole, and maybe all the way, despite being up five for her most recent victory.
Skytrain is a typical hard core Johnston handicapper, and stall eight is far from insurmountable for a prominent player such as this one. The problem is the trip though: five mile runs have yielded five sound beatings, and he's hard to fancy in that context.
Of the less well drawn later runners, Ogbourne Downs has a lot in his favour. He's going to swoop wide and late, but with the prospect of a fair bit of early zip in the field, things might set up for him. With four wins from ten starts at the trip, including last time out at Sandown - as well as a third on unsuitably soft ground at the track - he could give each way backers, and jockey Cam Hardie, an exhilarating ride.
Keith Dalgleish, Mark Johnston's former stable jockey, brings Argaki down south, and the four year old loves fast ground. He's been racing over further recently, but a true run mile could be perfect, and 'turn back' plays are popular in the States. The theory is that fit horses keep rolling when those who only just get the trip are crying enough. Within two pounds of his last winning mark, he could be primed to strike again at a big price.
Loads of other with chances in a wide open affair.
Most likely winner: Extremity 5/1 Ladbrokes, Betfair sportsbook
Each way alternatives: Ogbourne Downs 14/1 BetVictor Coral Skybet, Argaki 22/1 BetVictor
5.20 CASINO AT BET365 STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 3)
If anyone tells you this 26-runner five furlong dash is the 'lucky last' you can be confident they are a bookmaker! But let's play a game all the same. Let's use draw and pace to see if we can figure out from where the winner might emerge.
In the image below, I've sorted the race by draw, low to high, using the pace tab on the Geegeez Gold racecard. What we're interested in are the 'pockets of pace'. That is, those areas of the draw with the highest number of big pace scores. A 'big pace score' might be 12 or more (a horse cannot score more than 16 for its last four runs; 16 would equate to leading in all of those races).
We can see then, that low (stalls 1-9) has relatively little pace - just three horses in double digits. Middle (10-19) has a bit more, but it's fairly spread out. High (17-26) has more pace than the other areas, and is likely to be where the early speed in the race is.
One quick point: you might think I'm 'cheating' by including stalls 17, 18 and 19 both in middle and high, but of course I'm not. Basically, the groupings are arbitrary, and it makes no sense to use mathematically equal divisions when there is a pocket of pace that doesn't align to such symmetrical niceties. Make sense? OK, good.
So, I believe that the winner will be drawn high - say 17+. I now have a ten horse race to decode, as opposed to a 26 horse race. Clearly, I can be wrong about which part of the track the winner will come from, and I'm sure you'll let me know if that's the case. But I'm siding with logic, based on information that most people don't have. That's the joy of Geegeez Gold, ladies and gents! 😉
The next thing I'm going to do is look at the Instant Expert tab to see which of my high drawn hosses have a reasonable fit for the race conditions. I'm defining a reasonable fit to race conditions as 30%+ placed form on good or good/firm ground; 30%+ placed form in Class 3; and 30%+ placed form in 5f races. A bonus mark for big field form, and/or course form.
Here's the Instant Expert tab for placed form, sorted by class.
In this one image, we have condensed the entire form history of the race into a screen which doesn't even require scrolling to read. If you're not using Geegeez Gold, can your form tool do that? Now, clearly, it has its limitations, and that's why I use it in conjunction with Pace and Full Form Filter, but it's an extremely powerful - and flexible - snapshot of a race, regardless of how big the entry.
Our high drawn horse numbers are 3, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, 25, 26.
Of those, Swiss Cross and Valmina could be most interesting. Both have a line of amber and green, though Swiss Cross does have a single black mark on his previous course record. That was a midfield run in the Stewards' Cup, the most competitive sprint handicap of the season, where he was beaten just five lengths over six furlongs. Far from conclusive evidence he doesn't act here.
Swiss Cross is within three pounds of his last winning mark, and I can see from Full Form Filter, sorted by wins, that he's won three times off marks higher than today's, including twice earlier this year.
It could be, looking at those wins, that he's more effective at six than five, but he has won over five (on the all weather) and he'll finish his race off better than many, most likely from a prominent starting position (see pace above).
Valmina is more of a late runner - see the pace score of 4 above - and he's another more effective at six furlongs than five. Still, he'll get towed into the race by the speed on his side, and he's dropped to an attractive rating.
One other trick I use in races like this, is to hit the 'TODAY' filter in Full Form Filter, and then scroll through the card to see which horses have the best record under the combination of today's class, going and distance. Powerful Wind showed himself here, though he's been thumped on four other occasions in that combo.
If I was to take one from the 'wrong' side of the track (it often pays not to be too dogmatic about pace and draw), I'd look to the top line of that Instant Expert image, and the strong profile fit of Tidal's Baby. He's a course and distance winner - one of only two in the field - and he is within five pounds of his last win. It's possible that he might be outpaced by the other side of the field, but at 16/1 it might be worth the chance.
You may consider the above conjecturing confusing, and fair enough if you do. But keep in mind that we've just sliced and diced a 26 horse sprint, by pace, profile and full form. And a practised hand can do that in about ten minutes. Seriously!
Clearly, this is going to be a much more impressive exercise if the winner has been typed out by my aching digits in the above, but in such contests I'm looking:
1. to be right about the draw, which gives me a chance of...
2. narrowing down the field to a workable size, which gives me a chance to...
3. scout the overall form profiles of those horses drawn perceptibly well, which in turn allows me to...
4. check the finer details (individual runs/filters) and hone in on a bet.
Although nothing stands out especially in this race, I do think a number of the fancied horses may be poorly drawn. And, if that's correct, there's masses of value in the prices of the high drawn beasts.
If I'm right about that (remember, don't be too dogmatic about the draw/pace setup!), then Swiss Cross and Valmina might be getting cheered by a few of us for a few quid.
Two each-way needles in a herd of horses haystack: Swiss Cross 16/1 Skybet (BOG, 5 places) / 18/1 BetVictor (4 places, BOG) - Valmina 28/1 bet365 (BOG, 5 places) / 33/1 PP (4 places, BOG)
bet365 and SkyBet are paying FIVE places, Best Odds Guaranteed, on this race!
Good luck with Day 1. It's a brute of a day, and in the main it may pay to keep stakes small outside of the pair of Group races. I think Toormore has a really good chance to get back on track in the Lennox, and I'll be hoping to hit pay dirt somewhere in the 'caps.
p.s. who do you fancy? Leave a comment and let us know!