Sacred team keeping fingers crossed Lennox call pays dividends

Connections of Sacred hope the decision to bypass the Prix Maurice de Gheest in favour of the World Pool Lennox Stakes will pay off at Goodwood on Tuesday.

Impressive winner of Newbury’s Hungerford Stakes last season, the Exceed And Excel filly was dropped back to six furlongs for her belated seasonal bow, where she was beaten just a length by Naval Crown in the Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot.

The William Haggas-trained four-year-old was expected to head to Deauville on August 7 in search of Group One glory.

However, Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud, who own the filly, says the current dry spell means a south coast sortie was preferable.

“We are heading to Goodwood, so we shall see what happens there,” said Richardson. “We just took a view that at the moment, the ground is in her favour and sometimes at Deauville the ground can change.

“With all this dry weather, we decided that if we passed up Goodwood, it might not work in our favour. She can’t do both.

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“It will be interesting to see how she does over seven (furlongs) and she certainly wasn’t beaten far at Ascot and was doing her best work at the end of the race. We’d be hopeful she runs well.”

Sacred will take on 10 rivals at the West Sussex track and they include hat-trick-seeking Pogo, who bids to supplement a pair of Group Three wins – in the John of Gaunt at Haydock and the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket – with a first Group Two success on what will be his 34th career start.

The six-year-old’s trainer, Charlie Hills, said: “He’s one of the yard favourites, that’s for sure. He’s such a likeable horse, he tries really hard.

Pogo carries the hopes of Charlie Hills
Pogo carries the hopes of Charlie Hills (Francesca Altoft/PA)

“He’s had a great season so far and this just looks the obvious race for him. It looks a good spot.

“He obviously hasn’t won at this level before, but he did win a Group Three with a penalty last time and he won that one more easily than he did without it the time before.

“He looks in great nick, I’ve been really pleased with his work at home and he’s in a really good place at the moment, the track should suit him as well.”

Kinross won this race last season for Ralph Beckett and while he has been found wanting in five subsequent runs, four of those have come at the top level, including when two and a quarter lengths behind Naval Crown in the Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot.

However, connections would prefer a little more cut underfoot, as Jamie McCalmont, bloodstock agent and racing manager to owner Marc Chan, explained: “It’s probably not as tough a race as last year, but then the heavens don’t look like they’re going to open, so we’ll see.”

Lusail (second left) was just denied in a thrilling finish at Royal Ascot
Lusail (second left) was just denied in a thrilling finish at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Richard Hannon saddles both St James’s Palace runner-up Lusail and last season’s Super Sprint winner Gubbass while Laneqash is another interesting contender for Roger Varian after triumphing in a Listed seven-furlong race at Chester on his most recent run.

“He won nicely at Chester last time. It will require a career-best I believe to win the Lennox, but he’ll be a fun horse to run,” said Varian.

“That was his first win since his debut as a two-year-old, even though he has run some very good races subsequently.

“He could be well-suited to Goodwood, given that it can suit horses like him who like to arrive on the scene late. It is usually a very strong contest and will be a hard race to win, but he ticks a lot of boxes.

“He’ll like the trip and the good to firm ground is right up his street, so we’re looking forward to running him.”

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