Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Three Preview, Tips
Humpback day at the Qatar Goodwood Festival (there, I've said it), the middle day of three. With the Goodwood Cup and the Sussex Stakes now behind us, it at first glance seems a long way home. But there is much still to tempt, tease and tickle our wagering fancy, not least of which the septet of sodukos set for Thursday. The centrepiece is the Nassau Stakes, a mile and a quarter Group 1 race for fillies and mares, at 3.35. We begin an hour and three quarters beforehand, however, with the...
1.50 Handicap (1m 2f, 3yo, Class 2)
Since I first wrote this preview piece (Tuesday afternoon), the rain has arrived in large quantities, so I've added footnotes regarding soft ground horses.
Eighteen of the Classic generation line up and there is every chance of a messy scrimmage of a race similar to the opening heat of the week over the same range. Luck then may play its part and, in such a context, we ought to demand a premium on the price we take about a fancy, that term used only lightly in this race. With limited form book evidence to throw into the mix, perhaps the trends - from Andy's Day Three Glorious Goodwood Trends post - will shed some light.
All of the last 14 winners had between one and three wins to their names. All bar one in that time raced within four weeks; and all bar two returned at 9/1 or shorter.
Mark Johnston has trained the winner six times since 1998. He saddles the 88-rated pair, Monticello and Morning Suit. Typically frequently campaigned for runners from this yard, they've both been rattling the crossbar much of the time.
Monticello had been second twice in small fields before disappointing in a similar race at Newmarket last time, and the big field here is something he's not encountered before. Morning Suit is a little more interesting: he's run consistently well except for the two occasions he's encountered good to firm ground. Removing those efforts from his turf record, at a mile plus, reads 123, though he's yet to race over this far. If he stays, he might outrun odds of 25/1; however, none of his trainer's previous winners were returned bigger than 14/1.
The favourite is ADDEYBB, and William Haggas' Pivotal gelding looks nicely progressive. Indeed he's won his last two of three career starts, both at a mile. Stamina questions are supported on both sides of the pedigree, with mum being a daughter of Kingmambo. Stall 13 should be fine for one who has already shown run style versatility and, while not exactly an inspired pick, he fits the profile well and could easily complete the hat-trick at around the 6/1 mark.
Simon Crisford saddles Archetype, a free going sort who likes to get on with things in his races. He's won two of his last three and, though he needs to get across from stall 15, that is perfectly possible as I intimated in this article on the Goodwood draw bias. Whilst there is a fair bit of pace in the field, two of the most likely trio are drawn inside and, thus, Archetype has his chance to get a prominent early sit. 14/1 is all right each way.
SOFT: The one soft ground winner in the field is David Simcock's Good Omen, a winner of two of his last three. He will be played late by Jamie Spencer. Plenty of others have yet to encounter soft and could improve for it, so it's not a race to be piling into in my view.
2.25 Lillie Langtry Stakes (1m 6f, fillies, Group 3)
A staying contest for fillies and mares, this Group 3 was won by a subsequent Group 1 winner, Simple Verse, two years ago. Time will tell whether the class of 2017 has anything of that calibre in its midst but there is some established class and some unexposed improvers.
Principal among the proven lasses is Godolphin's ENDLESS TIME, twice runner up in Group 1 company in France last autumn but a shade below that level so far this term. Back against her own sex and dropped significantly in class, she could run away with this if returning to form: on recent evidence that's a fair sized 'if'.
Ralph 'Raif' Beckett runs FOUR, the pick of which might be Melodic Motion. Unable to win a maiden after three attempts, she has come through the handicap ranks unbeaten in three, the most recent of which was in Class 3 over a mile and a half. She was a winner on this track the time before and, as a three year old, receives a healthy eleven pounds from Endless Time and the other older mares.
Of Beckett's other three entries, I'd slightly favour Alyssa over Diamonds Pour Moi and Rich Legacy. Proven at the trip and a Listed winner last autumn, she may struggle to match Endless Time's class and/or to give the weight to Melodic Motion, but she could pick up the pieces.
One I'd want to be against at the prices is Natural Scenery, another Godolphin runner, but one which has been performing with credit on all weather tracks. Her turf form is weak in the context of a Group 3, the leap of faith required not sufficiently factored into odds of 11/2.
Sir Michael Stoute's Dubka is of mild interest. Her three worst performances have all been on good to firm so, providing it doesn't dry out markedly, she could put her best hoof forward. That would give her a place chance at least.
It's a tricky race, and one where Endless Time holds a clear class edge on what we've seen so far. With further improvement already factored into the progressive fillies' prices, I'm inclined to side with proven ability. Dubka fits that same bill to a lesser extent.
SOFT: The selection has won two from three on soft making the ground a plus for her chance if she's back to form. Dubka also has solid form with cut, so no changes to the above.
3.00 Richmond Stakes (6f, 2yo, Group 2)
A juvenile sprint which has been dominated by the favourite in recent years, but which lacks that sort of star quality this time around. Clear form pick is Mark Johnston's Cardsharp, who has danced every dance this season. Having won a Brighton maiden on 3rd May, he's since picked up the Beverley Two-Year-Old Trophy and the Group 2 July Stakes as well as recording fine placed efforts in the Woodcote at Epsom and the Norfolk at Royal Ascot. Chapeau.
That last day triumph was a career best so, though he faces far less exposed rivals, he is tough and game and may not have finished going forwards himself.
In HEADWAY, however, he has a serious foe. Unlucky not to win the Coventry at Royal Ascot - failing by a fast-evaporating head to reel in Rajasinghe - this son of Havana Gold could make the step past Cardsharp if any can. He's progressed takingly from race to race, winning a Chester maiden after running up over five furlongs on debut, and 3/1 seems fair about his chance.
U S Navy Flag is another who has seen a lot of combat already, but he was two lengths behind Cardsharp last time and it is hard to see those placings being reversed in spite of a three pound weight differential this time. Barraquero might be more interesting, though he has a lot to find with the top of the market. A six length winner of an ordinary Chesptow novice last time, he should step forward again. Whether that will be a small pace forward or a large stride - the latter required - is unknown, though a quote of 10/1 offers some insurance against the former.
SOFT: Nebo was an impressive winner on his debut at Newbury on soft ground and enters place calculations off the back of that.
3.35 Nassau Stakes (1m 2f, fillies, Group 1)
A classy renewal of the Nassau, moved from its traditional Saturday pitch to the middle of the Festival. It is a race which has been dominated by streaky top tier trainers in recent years: Sir Michael Stoute won it from 2002 to 2004, Aidan O'Brien in 2007 and 2008 (and last year), [Sir] Henry Cecil in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (all with the remarkable Midday), and John Gosden from 2012 to 2014.
With the obvious exception of the late Sir Henry, the remaining three are represented: O'Brien has the favourite, Winter (and Hydrangea); Gosden runs fellow three-year-old, Shutter Speed (and seasonal debutante, So Mi Dar); and Sir Michael asks Queen's Trust to concede the weight as a four-year-old.
Winter deserves to be favoured on the strength of her early season triple Group 1 haul. Having run riot in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas, she then took dead aim at the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, again putting daylight between herself and her rivals. She is clearly a very good three year old. At a mile, against three-year-olds. This, though, is ten furlongs and for all ages.
Nothing Winter has done so far has suggested she won't see out the trip, though there is a slight niggle on the dam side of her pedigree; and she gets that welcome weight for age allowance of eight pounds to help her cause. Moreover, the filly she's beaten the last twice - Roly Poly - has since won two Group 1 races in her own right, both at a mile.
7/4 is fine and I couldn't put you off her chance, but I'm inclined to have a tilt at one each way here. And that one is Shutter Speed. This beautifully bred daughter of Dansili, out of an Oasis Dream mare, was unbeaten in three UK starts prior to a fair fourth in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) last time. It is hard to say she didn't stay that day because she'd won the Group 3 Musidora the time before over the same sort of trip. But the tempo of the French Classic was muddling and that may have done for her, as may the trip across La Manche. It is also possible, of course, that she simply was not good enough, an eventuality which gives her too much to do here.
Frankie Dettori has opted for stable mate So Mi Dar, leaving Pat Smullen to do the steering on Prince Khalid Abdullah's filly: he is as able a deputy as there is. So Mi Dar was a progressive three-year-old who signed off last campaign with a close third in the Prix de l'Opera on Arc weekend. She was expected to win that day - odds on - and hasn't been seen since. It is to be assumed that she has trained well given jockey bookings, but this is a warm heat in which to be blowing away any cobwebs. Doubtless hers will be a globe-trotting late season campaign.
Queen's Trust won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf under an inspired Frankie ride on Santa Anita's firm tight oval last backend, and she ran well in defeat in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes last time. It might not be quite quick enough underfoot for her to show her absolute best in a race where anything shy of that will likely not suffice.
Others to consider in a very, very good race are Nezwaah, winner of the G1 Pretty Polly last time; and the unexposed Wuheida, a juvenile G1 winner from just two starts who should come on for her seasonal reappearance when second in the G1 Falmouth.
SOFT: Plenty yet to face such testing conditions, but the selection, Shutter Speed, is two from two on soft. She won't be beaten by the ground.
4.10 Nursery Handicap (7f, 2yo, Class 2)
Well this really is too difficult. Eighteen juveniles, most of them handicap first timers, many of them stretching out to seven panels for the first time. Yikes. Billesdon Brook and Barbarianatthegate are both low drawn fast starters with solid form at the trip. They are probably not good enough, but they are favoured by conditions in a race where luck often plays the major part, the ability spectrum tending to be rather narrow.
Billesdon Brook was a six length winner on the Kempton poly before a neck third in a Listed contest at Sandown, both over seven furlongs. Barbarianatthegate has yet to win in four starts but has been second in his last two and will likely lead the field for as long as he's able. On day one, at time of writing, that's been all the way home for a couple of winners.
Mark Johnston has won two of the last three renewals and this time saddles a trio: Poetic Steps, Poet's Prince and Starlight Mystery. Poetic Steps is another low drawn pace angle who brings an unbeaten record to the table. Her form has worked out pretty well, albeit at an average level, and she looks stable second pick on jockey bookings.
First choice, and the mount of Silvestre de Sousa, is probably Starlight Mystery. Consistent before being predictably outpointed in the Albany at Royal Ascot (she was sent off at 50/1), she missed the break on her first attempt at both handicap company and seven furlongs at Newmarket last time behind the re-opposing Tangled. That form is not good enough but it is noteworthy that champion-elect, SdS, chooses her of the Always Tryumvirate.
Poet's Prince makes up the three, winning at the third time of asking when stepped up to this trip last time. That form is pretty hard to quantify but we can say that the son of Poet's Voice (how did you guess?) relished the additional yardage at Ayr. No prices at time of writing but I'd not be afraid to risk a shekel in his direction.
TANGLED has gone up eleven pounds for winning that Newmarket nursery, and he deserved to. Unexposed and looking a likely sort according to my paddock expert, Hugh Fowler, he fair bolted up by more than three lengths in a dozen-strong field. Ryan Moore takes over from Sean Levey and a robust attempt to double up is expected.
SOFT: Poetic Steps and Jedi Master have both won on soft, while many of the remainder have yet to encounter it.
4.45 Fillies' Maiden (7f, 2yo, Class 2)
A remarkably shallow Class 2 maiden for the money - over sixteen grand to the winner - and it will likely be Ballydoyle's MAGICAL who takes it. Well, 'the lads' need every penny they can get, don't they? This daughter of, you guessed it, Galileo is out of Halfway To Heaven, who was a triple Group 1 winner in 2008. That makes her a full sister to the smart Fillies' Mile winner, Rhododendron, and the classiest pedigree in this pack by some margin.
5.20 Handicap (5f, 3yo, Class 3)
A really tricky sprint handicap to close with a stack of in-form flyers crossing swords. The eye is drawn to Michael Dods' Intense Romance, for whom it will have been a long trip south from County Durham. This filly has won three of her last five starts, all over five furlongs, most recently at Ascot. She was well on top at the line there and races prominently as a rule.
There is however a ton of pace in the field, with all of Carlton Frankie, Merry Banter, Fethiye Boy, Quench Dolly and Maakaasib habitual trailblazers. That earns this race the rare distinction on our pace tab of 'Possible Pace Collapse', as can be seen:
It ought to be the case that at least a few of the jockeys decide to take a different approach to avoid the potential melting pot on the front end, but I'll be siding with a deep closer even on this speed-favouring strip. That could be the aforementioned Intense Romance, who is versatile as regards run style, or perhaps EVERGATE, whose form at five furlongs is 221, the most recent brace of runs in higher class. He stays six well meaning no fears about travelling through wilting horses.
Very difficult heat, but there are solid grounds for opposing the speed even if it does somehow hold up.
SOFT: Megan Lily could enter calculations on a soft surface. She's a winner on that turf and is likely to be played later, off the speed.