Glorious Goodwood 2015 Day 2 Preview, Tips
Sussex Stakes day, and a chance to see probably the best gelding in the world* strut his testicle-less stuff. Regardless of how Day 1 went for you - and for most non-layers it went pear-shaped - there are many more battles to contest in this five day marathon, so let's get to it...
*Able Friend is rated 125 to Solow's 124, but there's little doubt as to the more versatile creature.
2.00 Goodwood Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 2m5f)
Just twenty lining up for the opener (!), and lots of them racing into uncharted territory with regards to this extended two and a half mile slog. After a dry day on Monday, the going should ride good, and that belief will underpin all such ground considerations in this post.
Teak won this race last year off a rating of 74, and attempts the same feat from some 16 pounds higher in the handicap. Whilst that is a tall order, Ian Williams' charge has improved considerably in the intervening twelve months.
Indeed, he was last seen on the level when running a gallant third in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he ran 105-rated Oriental Fox to seven lengths. That legitimizes a mark of 90 which, given Teak's course form, may not be insurmountable. Four trips to Goodwood's peaks and troughs have yielded a form string of 6142, the 42 preceding that Royal Ascot bronze. An early quote of 14/1 (Skybet) is too big.
Favourite in this mammoth field of plodders is Sir Mark Prescott's William Of Orange, a relatively lightly raced type stepping up markedly in trip. Eight flat turf runs have yielded two wins - on his first two handicap starts, natch - prior to a trio of placed efforts from a mile and six to two miles.
Clearly on the upgrade, if the trip brings out any improvement, 'Orange Bill' must be thereabouts, but at 4/1 in a veritable herd of handicappers, he's no more than backstop material for me.
The four-timer-seeking Air Squadron is another obvious player. Almost completely unexposed on his UK form, he's run 132111 on the turf in Blighty (having had three runs in France previously). The trip is the big question mark, however, as he was beaten over two miles and a furlong, and this is another half mile again. He's yet to win beyond a mile and six.
Those more likely to stay include Longshadow and Taws. The former was third in this race last year off a similar prep and is only three pounds higher this time; while the latter was just in front of Teak at Royal Ascot prior to a close enough effort in a Listed Sandown event last time over what looked an inadequate two miles.
At 25/1 and 16/1 respectively, they might give backers a run for their shekels for quite a long way.
Lots of others with chances, including Number One London, Gavlar, and Ridgeway Storm, in a race where it is unlikely to pay to be gung ho.
I'll be siding with proven stamina and track form - for buttons each way - in the shape of 14/1 Teak and 25/1 Longshadow.
[Stop Press: Longshadow is a non-runner]
Skybet will refund losing bets as a free bet up to £25 if your pick finishes second.
Ladbrokes, Hills and Betfair Sports are all paying FIVE places each way
Bet £20+ on this race with Boylesports, get £10 to bet on 2.35 race
BACK ANY 3/1+ WINNER WITH BETFAIR SPORTSBOOK AND GET FREE BET TO SAME STAKE UP TO £25
2.35 Gordon Stakes (Group 3, 1m4f)
A mile and a half Group 3 and, traditionally, a pretty good St Leger trial. It's an eclectic gathering this year, with Group form brought to the field principally by Highland Reel; various Listed placed animals; and a couple of aspirational handicappers.
The race revolves around Highland Reel, winner of last year's Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs, but disappointing in two of his three races since. In between times he was a very good second in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby).
The worry is that he does seem to have two ways of running: on the Vintage Stakes/Prix du Jockey Club form, he should win. But on his French Guineas/Irish Derby form, he won't. 2/1 is about right, but could not be called value, despite his obvious winning chance.
Medrano might be more interesting. Clearly progressive, he's got good track form thanks to a two length third in the Cocked Hat Stakes won by subsequent Derby 3rd/Irish Derby 2nd/French Derby 3rd, Storm The Stars. Back in fifth that day was Mr Singh, second in a Royal Ascot Group 2, and then winner of the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy over a staying trip at Newmarket. So the form is robust.
Since then, Medrano has bolted up in the Listed Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton: he put six lengths between himself and the re-opposing Prince Gagarin on the soft turf there. Good ground should be fine though ideally he might want a bit of cut. Despite that, he looks solid if Highland Reel fails to bring his A game.
Sir Michael Stoute's Disegno is a capable beast, albeit one that has found winning difficult. He'd not be certain to stay this trip on pedigree, though daddy, Fastnet Rock, has been siring a surprising number of middle distance winners.
In fact, a quick query reveals that Fastnet Rock, a six-time Group winner at up to six furlongs, has sired twelve UK/Ire winners from 72 runners at a mile and three-eighths and beyond, for an SP profit of 30.65 points!
Given that his dam was a ten furlong winner related to good mile and a half horses, perhaps he's been crying out for the longer range. He had a very troubled passage when fourth behind Time Test at Royal Ascot, and was staying on over that mile and a quarter, and I feel he might be something of an each way 'bet to nothing' (as far as such a thing exists).
Trainer and jockey (Andrea Atzeni) are in fine form, and I've had a bit of 11/2 each way (1/4 odds a place).
It's quite hard seeing the rest being good enough: Scottish and Space Age are unexposed handicappers stepping up, but have plenty to find; while Tommy Docc has been a lot of fun for connections but would want further, I reckon.
As usual, the Gordon Stakes is a fascinating race, and it might just be that DISEGNO gets the job done on this step up in trip. Each way the sensible, if perhaps cowardly, play.
3.10 Sussex Stakes (Group 1, 1m)
Always one of the races of the week, we've been treated to Frankel (twice) and Kingman in the last few years, as well as crack milers such as Canford Cliffs, Toronado, Rip van Winkle, and Henrythenavigator.
This is not normally a race won by a gelding, but it looks more probable than possible that will be the case in 2015. Solow is the name of the improving world beater, a horse who has won in France, Dubai and Ascot in his last three starts, and all of them Group 1 affairs.
Indeed, he's won ten of his last eleven races, with the sole defeat being when stepped up to fully twice this trip in the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier on soft ground. A mile is at the lower end of his distance range, but with Arod expected to set solid fractions the French raider should win again.
If all eight stand their ground, it makes for a fascinating each way betting heat, thanks to a group of quite evenly matched horses in opposition. Indeed, take out the outclassed Gabrial, and add in the 3yo weight for age allowances, and there is but four pounds separating the other six, Solow exempted.
Night Of Thunder is better than he showed last time when flopping in the Queen Anne Stakes, and any ease in the ground would help him. But the ground is not easing. It ought to be good ground by off time so, while that won't be a problem for Richard Hannon's horse, it levels the playing field somewhat.
At the prices, I'd prefer to look elsewhere in such a closely matched group, although Night Of Thunder has a very obvious place chance.
The case for Arod on drying ground is strong. He's on the hat-trick here having not seen a rival from stalls to jam stick in a Group 3 at Epsom and a Group 2 at Ascot; and similar tactics will indubitably be adopted here.
On Lockinge form, where Arod was never able to get to the front in a field of sixteen, he has only a length to find with Night Of Thunder. Without a single rival for the early lead, I think Arod is attractive in the 'without Solow' market, and perhaps each way too.
Cougar Mountain and Here Comes When have got close to the market leaders in recent runs, without either doing enough to convince they can reverse placings; but the Classic pair of Belardo and Bossy Guest might be worth more of a second glance.
Belardo has seemed ground dependant, but should be fine on turf drying to good (softer would have been better). Good enough to be named the Champion European Two Year Old last year, his rating of 119 at the end of the year was the joint-lowest ever, and was based predominantly on a single run, in the soft ground Dewhurst.
He clearly resented the underfoot when returning on rattling turf in the Greenham but showed more of his true ability on his sole start since, a close fourth in the Irish 2000 Guineas behind Gleneagles. Trainer Roger Varian is uncharacteristically bullish about Belardo and a general 8/1 backs him up.
For windmill tilters, there could be some fun attached to the masts of Bossy Guest. Mick Channon's 2000 Guineas fourth has since run third in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes and a Listed race at Newmarket. The form of that last run is not good enough but his Guineas and Jersey form is standing up well, and he could certainly outrun his market rank.
Ultimately, it would be a surprise - and something of a disappointment - if Solow fails to score. But there are betting opportunities beyond that, and Arod makes some appeal at 11/4 (PP) in the 'without' market. For the aimless/aspirational, Bossy Guest could nick a place at a vast price.
3.45 Molecomb Stakes (Group 3, 5f)
Not one of the most noteworthy of juvenile Pattern races, the Molecomb is a five furlong dash often contested by 'early types' whose lights soon dim. The likes of Cotai Glory, Brown Sugar and Bungle Inthejungle have prevailed most recently, and none subsequently bettered the level at which they scored at Goodwood.
No matter, for every race has a winner, and this one might be the one where we get our noses further/back* (delete as applicable) in front.
With Washington DC another notable absentee from the Ballydoyle yard, following the high profile defections of Gleneagles and Air Vice Marshal, the rumour mill is rumbling that all may not be quite right at Chez Aidan. No matter, for he's merely one we don't have to beat.
In the new market, King Of Rooks is close to even money favourite, a price that looks fair enough given his level of form in running a length third in the Norfolk Stakes. Previously he'd hosed up in the Listed National Stakes at Sandown, and either of those runs contains more Vitamin C than any other runner has so far shown.
But therein lies the key: with four races under his saddle girths already, Richard Hannon's Al Shaqab-owned speedster has less progression than some in this field, and it is possible that a more lightly raced creature will bound on by.
Charlie Appleby's Rouleau could just be the one. He only won a nursery handicap last time, but he did it well, carrying top weight, and beat a field in which all bar two of his eleven rivals were previous winners. He also showed tenacity there over six furlongs, a trip connections must feel is far enough given they're dropping him back to five for this. Unexposed and progressive, he makes fair each way appeal at 8/1 against the jolly, and in the 'without' market.
The other I'm drawn to is Lathom, winner of two of his four starts, most recently the valuable Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury. It takes a fast time to win that, and Lathom has the quickest Peter May figure in the field. He was outclassed in the Windsor Castle Stakes, but all three other runs put him in with a squeak if the favourite under-performs. Also a top price 8/1, he's playable as such.
Kachy has to show a lot more than his winning debut around the Chester turn; and likewise, Muhadathat has shown his best on the Roodee. This is a very different examination. At a fantasist's price - 33/1 in a place - the maiden Field Of Vision is not totally without hope.
The favourite is clearly the horse to beat and may well be a class above, but at around even money, I'd sooner have small bets on two against him: Rouleau and Lathom are both fleet fellows with upside potential, and at 8/1 each (a number of books paying 1/4 1-2-3) there are wager type options to consider. Each way, win only, or 'without the favourite' all hold some appeal. Maybe a combination of the three!
4.20 Fillies' Maiden (Class 2, 6f)
Nope, ask me another...
4.55 Veuve Cliquot Fillies' Handicap (Class 3, 1m1f)
A very good race for three year olds down the years, in receipt of a pound per furlong weight for age, and they monopolize the top of the market. Clear jolly is Godolphin's Forest Maiden, who arrives here with two wins in her last three runs, one each in this grade and the grade above. She's asked to stretch out an extra furlong here, and is bred to accommodate that in her rangy stride.
She has a most attractive profile but the one niggle I have is that when she's won the last twice she's made all, and she will be challenged for the lead here by at least the outside drawn pair of Jasmine Blue and Serena Grae, and maybe others up her inner. Still, going back through her past performances, she has also won from a more restrained position, and maybe she'll just be too good. I'd imagine she'll be a fair bit shorter than the current 5/1, and that looks a bet.
The other to catch my eye is Hugo Palmer's Only Joking. Palmer is in white hot form at the moment (8-16 in the past fortnight, including a winner here yesterday), and this lass is unexposed on turf. Having been highly tried after losing her maiden tag last term, she's found life in lower grade handicaps more to her tastes this season and comes here in good heart off a win and a place at Lingfield.
True, she will need to step forward on that form, but with trainer in such bouncing fettle, she's worth the chance at 12/1 in places.
Lots more who could win in what is a devilish last leg of the placepot.
But I'll be having a reasonable poke at FOREST MAIDEN, and a quid each way on Only Joking.
5.25 Handicap Stakes (Class 3, 7f)
Glorious Goodwood does a lot of things better than most other places. Panoramic views, bubbles, parade rings, and get out stakes. The 'Lucky Lasts' at this meeting are some of the most ferocious in the racing calendar, this twenty runner seven furlong handicap where they bet 9/1 the field (!) being a classic example.
It may pay to be handy and/or a late runner drawn wide, with loads of horses hemmed in towards the far rail yesterday (and, in truth, every other day at this beautifully quirky track designed, presumably, by a bookmaker). Volunteer Point was one such beast I/we backed on Tuesday without any running luck, so hopefully the wheel will turn in our favour this time.
Ishiamber can be no more than a hopeful pick. She's drawn wide in 14, which may suit her middle to late running style, and she has Mr Goodwood - Richard Hughes - steering. He's less likely to find trouble than most pilots round these parts on a filly who is immensely consistent. Indeed, in her sixteen race career, she's only been out of the first quartet three times.
At seven furlongs her form is 3411110224, on good ground it's 1101, and in Class 3 it's 042241. The drying ground is in her favour, and I'm hopeful of a bold show.
There are few cards still up the sleeve of Accession after 31 races, but he's a capable fella and these are close to optimal conditions. He's raced six times over seven furlongs in Class 3, with a string of 534134. That sextet includes third in this race in 2013 and fourth in it last year. True, he's rated ten pounds higher now, and true, he could have been drawn better, but he obviously loves this place and he'll be cherry ripe for his 'third time lucky' bid.
There are at least 142 others with a chance (OK, eighteen), and it's minimum stakes only on the above pair against the field.
Good luck on what looks another day where it may be better to be lucky than good! 😉
p.s. if you've got a fancy, don't be keeping it to yourself! The comment space below is for you - please do share, and maybe we'll buy you an ice cream if your pick romps home in front...