It was fantastic racing on the Downs last week as Glorious Goodwood staged a vintage five day meeting, with many personal and sporting highs.
But, amongst the glamour and glitz of Frankel's electric gear change in the Sussex Stakes, and Midday's game hat-trick in the Nassau Stakes, what else did we learn from one of the best meetings in the year?
Well, I've put my thinking cap on and come up with five 'takeaways' from the Glorious meeting.
1. Frankel is not as good as Sea The Stars... yet!
The gushing praise which has been lavished on Frankel this week is almost entirely justified, as the 'monster' extended his winning streak to eight, including four Group 1 victories, with a facile verdict over Canford Cliffs, himself a brilliant miler with five Group 1 wins to his name.
The nature of the win was what stood out. Frankel showed a new maturity as he strode down to post in calm and collected fashion. He also lobbed through the early part of the race without any of the previous headstrong pulling tendencies. And, consequently, when he was asked to quicken about one and a half furlongs out, the response was electric and categorical.
Queally asked, Frankel responded, race over in about six strides. Awesome. Clearly, Frankel is a quite exceptional miler. And I'm looking forward to seeing him take on a fuller field. Alas, with the exception of the game connections of Canford Cliffs, my suspicion is that he will scare most prospective opponents away with that high cruising speed and devastating kick.
But.... he's not yet as good as Sea The Stars. Not on the ratings and not in my mind. Whilst it is obviously churlish to decry Frankel's sublime efforts on the track, it is surely short-sighted and remiss to suggest that his brilliance is greater than Sea The Stars, a horse who won six Group 1's in a row in 2009.
Not just that, but he won a Group 1 in every month from May to October, a feat for which I'm struggling to find a comparitor.
Not just that, but he won the 2000 Guineas over a mile in May; the Derby over a mile and a half in June; the Eclipse over a mile and a quarter in July (against older horses); as well as the Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes over that trip (in August and September respectively); and then took the Arc over a mile and a half in October.
Let's talk about that Arc win. There were NINETEEN runners! There were NINE other Group 1 winners in the field! Sea The Stars was murdered in his run: messed about with off a stop/start pace, boxed in, pulled too hard. He had an absolute nightmare trip.
And yet, at the finish, Sea The Stars pulled away to win by two lengths from triple Arc silver medallist (and himself a double Group 1 winner), Youmzain.
It was the ultimate performance in a race noteworthy for both the quality and quantity of the opposition.
No, Frankel is not as good as Sea The Stars... yet!
2. Don't be afraid to back a big priced Mark Johnston front runner
Mark Johnston is one of the men to follow at Glorious Goodwood. He loves to have runners and winners there, and it is the natural 'next stop' on the Summer Roadshow for many of his Royal Ascot contenders.
But Goodwood is a quite different track from Ascot. Goodwood is rolling, undulating, up and down. It also has a deceptively sharp home turn which can fan horses far and wide. And of course, it has a slight 'reverse camber' which lugs horses into the far rail, meaning there are many hard luck stories.
So it was little surprise to see some of Johnston's habitual front-runners get out on an easy lead, control the fractions and attempt to kick for home off the turn.
Jutland in the opening race was a 28/1 shot (33's in the morning, when selected by yours truly). He kicked for home and tried to hang on. Failed. But landed the place part of the bet at 8.25/1. Nice start.
Swift Alhaarth, also 28's having been 33's when nominated by this blog, ran a carbon copy race. Still leading inside the distance. Just failed. Another eight and a quarter points profit.
Bannock in the Richmond. Led most of the way, stayed on under pressure. Not as classy as the winner (and not in the same class), but beat all others at 13/2, having been double figure prices in the morning. Each way steal.
The lesson is clear: look for Johnston front-runners, especially on the round course, and respect their chances irrespective of recent form.
Front runners generally can fare well here, as Webbow proved under a fine ride from Kieren Fallon. And as Boom And Bust proved under a fine ride from Hayley Turner. More on that later.
3. The draw bias is quirky but highly valuable for those that understand it
This year like no other has seen the draw biases become confused. As if it wasn't enough trying to fathom the whims of groundsmen and greenkeepers up and down the land, as they experiment with irrigation methods and topsoils and other means of parting punters from their wonga.
No, not enough. Now we have to contend with the fact that at some - but obviously not all (that would be too straightforward) - tracks, the stall numbers have been reversed.
At Goodwood, it's a case of high is now low; low is now high. With me so far? Good, because it gets trickier.
There are two top bends at Goodwood, rather like on the new Kempton all weather course. The top loop, used for seven furlong and mile races most materially, favours low drawn horses.
Seven furlong race winners in fields of ten or more were drawn 11 (made all, beat 2), 6 of 17 (made all), 2 (1 was third, both 16/1), 1 (15 ran), 2 (17 ran), 4 (16 ran). Easy. 😉
In races at a mile in big fields, low can also be favoured, though not so markedly. Neebras, in box 3, beat Chef in box 2, in the RSA Thoroughbred Stakes; and Boom And Bust (drawn 1), beat Proponent and Pintura (drawn 6 and 3 respectively) in the totesport Mile (19 ran).
Stepping up in trip and using the upper loop, we often find that the draw bias is reversed over 1m1f races. In the opening race on Tuesday, 9 beat 7 and 11 (18 ran). In Wednesday's finale, 7 beat 8 and 13. And, most markedly of all, in the closing race of the week, a 16 runner handicap with one non-runner, the first two home were drawn 16/17. Last one back? Drawn 1 (an 8/1 shot).
So, low over seven and a mile in big fields generally; middle to high over 1m1f in big fields generally.
Obviously, you can't set your clock by it, but it certainly will help more often than not.
4. Richard Hannon is 'the man' in the juvenile events.
When it comes to two year old races, nobody is in the same league as Richard Hannon for finding winners. He ran six 2yo horses at odds of 6/1 or shorter, with the following results:
|29.07.2011||Goodwood||Harbour Watch (IRE)||Evens||1st/10|
|26.07.2011||Goodwood||Crown Dependency (IRE)||10/3||4th/13|
Three winners, a second (behind a stablemate), a fourth and one disappointing runner (a debutante). Profit of 6.5 points at level stakes.
His record in the previous three years under the same conditions?
|28.07.2010||Goodwood||King Torus (IRE)||2.75||1st/7|
|27.07.2010||Goodwood||Big Issue (IRE)||2.5||2nd/10|
|1.08.2009||Goodwood||Stags Leap (IRE)||6||1st/12|
|31.07.2009||Goodwood||Dick Turpin (IRE)||1.2||1st/9|
|28.07.2009||Goodwood||Red Badge (IRE)||6||2nd/9|
|1.08.2008||Goodwood||Able Speed (IRE) (OLD)||5||1st/12|
|30.07.2008||Goodwood||Victoria Sponge (IRE)||2.25||5th/13|
Eleven winners from nineteen runners! 27.36 points profit!
Respect anything Richard Hannon runs at a short price (6/1 or less) in a two year old race at Glorious Goodwood.
5. Have a good old tilt at the placepot at Glorious Goodwood!
It's never happened before. Sure, I've managed to 'get the placepot up' at Glorious Goodwood before now. I've even managed it twice in the week. But last week, I played it four times (Tuesday to Friday, was on best man duties at a wedding on Saturday), and I scooped it four times.
I've been using a new perm, and the info above. I won more than fifteen hundred pounds on the placepot, and cleared more than twelve hundred in profits.
At all the big meetings, there is a LOT of dead money in the pools. Occasional punters, and punters who only play the bet when they're at the track, will swell the coffers of the pool meaning that if you're smart / lucky enough to find a placed horse in each leg, it will likely be worth your while.
Tuesday and Friday were mediocre payouts (Â£50 and Â£120 ish respectively), but Wednesday and Thursday paid well. Â£504.10 and Â£761.40 respectively.
They paid more than they should have, and this continued on Saturday, when the placepot dividend returned Â£3,221.40 for a Â£1 unit stake.
I didn't even look at the racing on Saturday because I love my mate and wanted to focus on something more important. But dang, I missed a trick there!!! 😉
Big meetings.... play the placepot.
So there you have it. My five takeaways from last week's Glorious Goodwood meeting. What a fantastic meeting it was. What was your personal highlight? Two ways to share. You can either vote in the poll up the page and on the right, or leave a comment below. Or both! We'd love to hear your thoughts.