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Glorious Goodwood 2020: Day 3 Preview, Tips

And so to Day Three, Thursday, at Glorious Goodwood 2020. In the preview that follows I'll offer the usual thoughts and tips, with the standard caveats emptor in situ. The feature race of the day is the Group 1 Nassau Stakes for fillies and mares over a distance of a mile and a quarter.

We start shortly after one o'clock, the first race being the...

1.10 Mirabeau En Provence Handicap (5f, Class 3 0-95, 3yo)

Some nippy three-year-olds do battle in the opener, a few of them in form, too. Somewhat unusually, five of the nine declared are fillies.

The pace looks set to be contested between, primarily, Glamorous Anna and Electric Ladyland, two of that filly quintet, and they may be joined by a third, Hand On My Heart.

It is Hand On My Heart that is of most interest of the early speed: she ought to be able to get a nice tow into the race, allowing for the fact that she is drawn on the outside and will have to tack across. The Clive Cox-trained Iffraaj filly makes her handicap debut here for a handler who boasts a 19% strike rate with 'cap debs in the past two years. Jockey Adam Kirby has a fine record at Goodwood and when riding for Cox.

Hand On My Heart does have to show that she's trained on, however: her form has tailed off - albeit in higher grade - since a debut win in a quite valuable fillies' stakes at Windsor last June. Three runs since, all in Class 1, have offered little hope.

Of the boys, 3/1 Bal Mal is on a hot streak having won his last four and five of his last six. The key has been the drop to five furlongs, where his record is unblemished thus far:

This mission is tougher again, of course, but the 'Then What?' figures on the right hand side tell us that his form is working out well enough. He ought to bid boldly for a sixth straight win at the minimum. He, too, should get a prominent early position and, from stall two, looks the most likely winner.

1.45 Unibet Handicap (1m2f, Class 2, 3yo)

A second three-year-olds only handicap, this time at ten furlongs. In what is a very trappy encounter, it looks a case of Mark Johnston versus the unexposed brigade. The winner of this race is normally rated 90+, as 15 of the last 17 were. However, I suspect the average OR in the race this term is slightly lower as a result of there having been less opportunities to advance a mark that far.

On that basis, I'm going to risk opposing the exposed Johnston pair in favour of less exposed, potentially more progressive rivals.

Johnston's Zabeel Champion is hardly exposed, with three wins from five starts, but he has shown more of his hand than many. Al Salt for example has won his last two of three career starts, none of them on turf, and represents a trainer - William Haggas - with a 25% strike rate first time in a handicap, as this lad is.

Roger Varian brings the only twice-raced Magnetised, narrowly beaten last time but recording a big Racing Post Rating. He steps up two furlongs in trip and improvement is likely rather than possible.

John Gosden has Magical Morning, another stepping up from a mile on this fifth career start. He was beaten on good to soft last time having won twice on good to firm previously. That shouldn't have been the decisive factor, but the extra range here might eke out more.

Plenty more improvers up and down the card, including Celtic Art whose father and son training team of Paul and Oliver Cole have won with three of their six handicap debutants so far this season. David Probert rides the top weight, who has already been second and first on these slopes.

And Oisin Murphy, the champion jockey, jumps on Starcat, a horse thought good enough to contest the 2000 Guineas two back and who may have resented the soft ground in Ascot's Britannia Stakes last time. Of course, an alternative theory is that he simply hasn't trained on; but I have sufficient respect for his trainer, Hughie Morrison, to note this one at a price.

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It's a very difficult puzzle indeed.

2.15 Richmond Stakes (6f, Group 2, 2yo)

It is hard to know what to make of a seven-runner Group 2 where the top three in the betting were all beaten last time out, and two of them were out of the frame...

Favourite Yazaman has at least improved as he's gone up in class from race to race, with his second to Tactical in the G2 July Stakes reading well in this company. He led there as they got to the hill so this easier track could help him.

Mark Johnston trains Qaader for owner of the season, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum: this son of Night Of Thunder got closest to the 150/1 Coventry Stakes boilover, Nando Parrado, but was then three lengths behind Yazaman. There's no obvious reason he should reverse placings.

Further back in the Coventry was Admiral Nelson, who was never travelling there. Obviously the O'Brien/Moore/Coolmore connection has always to be respected but their two-from-eight record in this came 18 years apart. Both were similarly lesser lights in the yard's hierarchy, however.

Clive Cox saddles Supremacy, who stepped forward from first to second start and made all to win well in a minor event at Windsor 24 days ago. The sectionals tell us that he was able to quicken off the reasonable gallop he'd set there and nothing laid a glove on him. This is much harder but he deserves his place.

Gussy Mac did well to win the five furlong Listed National Stakes at Sandown last time and has now won his last two of three. He's trained by Roger Teal, who is a whizz with sprinters as evidenced both by the brilliant win of Oxted in the Group 1 July Cup and his two-year statistics:

This extra furlong looks right for him now and he is one of the few that still look progressive for all that it may be too early to write some of his rivals off. He'd be a super postscript to Oxted's G1 success.

Lauded ran a similarly mediocre race to Admiral Nelson in the Coventry so, while any horse can be forgiven one poor run, he only had one good run previously and I don't really see why he should reverse with Qaader either.

This seems quite a disappointing turnout for a Group 2. Yazaman might appreciate the easier test after Newmarket, and Qaader is the main player bidding to salvage the Coventry form; but perhaps 8/1 Gussy Mac is the value against those who have already tried and failed at Group level. Supremacy is another of more interest at the prices than the black type losers atop the market.

2.45 Gordon Stakes (1m4f, Group 3, 3yo)

Historically a trial for the St Leger and a benefit for Sir Michael Stoute, whose seven wins since 2001 will not be added to in 2020 as he is unrepresented. If the Richmond Stakes has a disappointing looking level of quality, the Goodwood beaks will be buoyed by the presence of four Derby runners in this renewal of the Gordon Stakes, including the second and the fourth.

The 2020 Derby has its place in infamy now as a race where the leaders appeared to steal it; Khalifa Sat had the cat-bird seat throughout and maintained it to the finish behind wide margin victor, Serpentine. The cavalry arrived too late with both English King and Mogul promising more than they delivered.

But were they as unlucky as they looked? Whilst the answer to that is "probably", this re-run between the three - and also the not-really-ever-in-it Highland Chief - will at the very least fuel the fire of those who have a strong view on the matter.

English King performed best of the closers and had previously delivered the best audition in the Lingfield Derby Trial. He is short in the market here but deservedly so in my view.

Khalifa Sat will have his supporters: he's a two-time scorer here including in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes, and bettered that form when running up in the Derby. He has the chance to show he's been under-rated in some quarters.

Meanwhile, Mogul's juvenile reputation has yet to be vindicated on the track in this campaign. For all that excuses can be made for his two 2020 efforts, they've both been underwhelming and he has to prove he's trained on.

The one who brings unequivocal form to the table is Al Aasy, who followed up a mile and a half novice stakes win with a victory in the 1m5f Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket three weeks ago. Both of those wins were with give in the ground, however, leaving the suspicion that this sharper track on a quicker lawn might not play to his obvious stamina strengths.

Mark Johnston runs the tough and consistent Subjectivist who, along with Khalifa Sat, may set the pace. It's never a surprise when a Johnston runner wins at Goodwood but this one would rate a disappointment if he was to lower the colours of the Derby form.

English King is the logical play here, but he's very short at around 6/4. I really like Al Aasy but not for this gig: he'd be interesting ante post for the St Leger if finishing well in defeat. Mogul has plenty to prove for me, so 9/2  Khalifa Sat might be a smidge of value. But it's a race I'll likely be watching without wagering.

 3.15 Nassau Stakes (1m2f, Group 1, 3yo+ fillies and mares)

The feature race of the day, and a line up long on quality if a trifle short on quantity. Such is life this season with so many big races squished together after the resumption. Far better this way than any other, in my view.

Last year's shock winner Deirdre bids to double up. Now six, the Japanese raider was well beaten on her prep run last term and reprised that type of rehearsal in the Eclipse 25 days ago. This will have been the plan with an easy ten furlongs looking optimal; but there could be a lot less pace in the race this year than last, where she came with a devastating burst late on. Her form behind Magical looks pretty solid in the context of this field - in the context of most fields, in truth - and she sets a good standard.

But she's not favourite. That honour goes to Donnacha O'Brien's Fancy Blue. Donnacha, following in brother Joseph's footsteps as a son of Aiden to move from riding into training, won the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) last time with this filly having been second in the Irish 1000 Guineas the time before. Regular readers will be bored to tears by now of me decrying the value of French form but, again, the Diane featured three Irish runners in a field of eleven where the remainder were domestic fillies. The Irish finished 1-2-3. It's a desperate state of affairs across La Manche currently.

That's a verbose way of saying I'm against Fancy Blue - certainly at the prices. Both Alpine Star and Peaceful - mile Group 1 winners this season - may not have got home, and the rest were French. Fancy Blue can win, duh, but she's short enough.

Between Donnacha's and Deirdre in the betting lists is the wildly progressive John Gosden inmate, Nazeef. Only third on debut, she's rattled off six straight wins since, most recently in a Group 2 at Royal Ascot and then the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket. She fits here on ability, then, but all of her winning has been achieved at up to a mile to this point: the step up to ten furlongs is not out of the question on either pedigree - out of a Dubawi mare - or performance (she tends to lead late in her races hinting that she might go further), but it is an unknown. The perceived absence of a strong early tempo would be in her favour.

Magic Wand is a legitimate Group 2 filly and, in this strange year, there are plenty of Group 1's to be snaffled with such a type. But not this one, I don't think. She finished just in front of Deirdre at Sandown and also in the Irish Champion Stakes last September, but I have the feeling that this is Deirdre's seasonal target whereas Magic Wand is expected to attempt to produce many more rabbits from hats yet.

I'd be struggling to make a cohesive case for any of Queen Power, One Voice and Lavender's Blue, although this trip is likely to suit all three better than the shorter ranges over which they were beaten last time.

A cracking race in prospect, but perhaps a tactical one. That slightly puts me off Deirdre, though I respect her chance greatly; and I instead favour the 11/4 about Nazeef who, if she does have suspect stamina on the step up in trip, may find that mitigated by the combination of the easier track and the projected steady pace. She's bidding for a seven-timer and might just develop into a champion we've yet to recognise.

3.45 Nursery Handicap (7f, Class 2, 2yo)

Impossible stuff here as eleven of the dozen runners make their handicap bows. Messrs Johnston and Hannon have won plenty of these down the years, normally with a fancied runner. Johnston's pair are at double figure odds as I write, while one of Hannon's brace is 6/1 Running Back.

He was a (well beaten) second to Qaader, who runs in the Richmond Stakes earlier on the card, on debut; then only just seen off in a Kempton novice. Both of those races were six furlongs and this extra eighth looks right for a son of Muhaarar. I'm totally guessing, of course, but if I had to draw one of these in a sweepstake I'd be happy enough with this fellow. Oh, and he's in Qatari ownership, which may suggest this has been the target all along given their overall sponsorship of the meeting.

Good luck if you're playing. I doubt I will be.

4.20 Fillies' Maiden (7f, Class 2, 2yo)

Moving on...

4.55 Tatler Nursery Handicap (5f, Class 2, 2yo)

Another guess up, this time though we have horses that have mostly raced over this minimum distance. It's a new race and an interesting one, which is not to say that I have any iota regarding who might win. In this clueless spirit, I will offer two.

Nigel Tinkler's squad were pretty slow out of the traps after resumption but have warmed up a little in recent weeks. He saddles 13/2 Acklam Express, who improved from first to second start to win readily at Hamilton 18 days ago. His trainer doesn't saddle many at Goodwood: in fact, this will be only the third Tinkler runner at the track in the last five years. The other two finished second and first, the winner coming in a nursery handicap.

The other is 15/2 Different Face, whose Yarmouth second to Yazaman may look very good - or pretty moderate - after the Richmond Stakes. He made all on his only subsequent start in an average Lingfield novice, and his trainer is in white hot form just now, as you can see below. Crisford also has an excellent record with handicap debutants, though I'd read less into that in a race where they're virtually all squeezing into that overcrowded train carriage.

The favourite, and odds on at time of writing, is Winter Power. Trained by Tim Easterby he put two bronze medal finishes behind him when lashing home by five lengths in a Redcar nursery on Monday. He carries just the six pounds penalty here prior to reassessment and was clearly put in too low by the handicapper ahead of that assignment. Unless you like risking more than your potential reward in fields full of unexposed types, the better question to answer here might be which others have been underestimated by the assessor?

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Good luck with your Day 3 Goodwood wagers. It's not easy - it's not supposed to be, I guess - but it does look terrific sport, and the Nassau Stakes is a very interesting, and high class, race indeed.

Matt

Glorious Goodwood 2020: Day 2 Preview, Tips

Day two of five, Wednesday, at the Qatar Goodwood Festival - Glorious Goodwood to you and me - and another septet of equine head-scratchers, chin-rubbers and brow-furrowers upon which to ruminate. As with Tuesday we begin at 1.10pm, and as with Tuesday, we begin with a fillies' handicap, the...

1.10 British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap (1m2f, Class 2 0-105, 3yo+)

Eight go to post on good ground for this first of seven on the afternoon. Three fillies represent the Classic generation, each in receipt of nine pounds of weight for age.

I've tried twice to find a way into this race, and I've failed both times. I don't want to deliberately mislead anyone, which I'd be in danger of doing, so we'll move swiftly on.

1.45 Unibet Goodwood Handicap (2m5f, Class 2 0-105, 3yo+)

An extended two and a half miles around the loop means traversing all of Goodwood's ups and downs, in some cases in both directions. It's a test of balance and stamina as well as requiring a hint of class. They don't bother with starting stalls so you need a horse that's not going to lose ten lengths at the tapes: even over this marathon trip a missed kick spells game over. My route into all Class 2 staying handicaps is Ian Williams.

In the last five years he's chiselled out a small starting price profit - and a much greater exchange or early price edge - as well as hitting plenty of placed runners (30%), as the image below articulates.

This race has gone to Williams on three occasions (2017, 2014, 2008) and he is double handed in the quest for a fourth Goodwood Stakes.

The Grand Visir won the Ascot Stakes (2m4f) last year and was second in the Queen Alexandra Stakes (2m6f) last month, so he loves Ascot and staying trips on the flat. This is not Ascot, however. He's up from 100 to 104 which might not be enough to stop him, though whether he has the same affection for this track I'm not sure. Still, he has plenty of ticks in boxes for a game like this.

Meanwhile, Blue Laureate is developing into a cliff horse for me: a lamentable effort in this year's Ascot Stakes was sandwiched between two close enough placed spins in Class 2 staying handicaps. His overall win record of 1 from 16 in flat handicaps is sub-optimal but I have to have him in my corner as he still looks well handicapped and is in the right hands. James Doyle takes over the driving today.

The likes of the admirable Coeur De Lion, as well as Oleg and Hollie Doyle, and Mark Johnston's Summer Moon will all have their supporters. But I'm siding with Ian Williams, at 9/1 and 16/1, a long-term EV+ play in these races.

2.15 Unibet Handicap (1m4f, Class 2 0-105, 3yo)

A three-year-old handicap over twelve furlongs where we're required to project on from what horses have already achieved - often over shorter trips - to today's challenge. Eleven runners but 6/1 the field tells you how tough this is.

One means of undertaking such projection is to look at how well races have worked out. Three runners catch the eye in that context.

The first of them is Mambo Nights, trained by Richard Hannon. He's won his last two, and before that was third in a Salisbury novice from which the runners have collectively raced 39 times since. They've managed to win 15 of those races (38%). Indeed, as you can see from the below (right hand side 'Then What?' section), ALL of his races have worked out well. He's bred for this trip, unexposed at it and no horse has got to within two lengths of him so far this season.

 

Although George Scott's form is not great just now - still time to turn that around - his Sarvan is also an improver whose form is panning out. See the image below, which shows not just how Sarvan's second to Spectrum Of Light looks well, but also (at the bottom) the excellent record of George Scott when placing a runner into a handicap for the first time. I alluded to the Scott/Curtis trainer/jockey combination on Tuesday; it appears again, as one of my three Report Angles, for this chap today.

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And thirdly Cozone, trained locally by Amanda Perrett, a lady who just loves a winner at Goodwood (I know, who doesn't?). We can see how well his non-winning pair of races in 2020 have unravelled in the ensuing weeks from 'Then What?' again and, in the extended view below, I've also inspected the trainer's and sire's performance.

To that end, we can see that Mrs P is in good form (note the place percentage of 40% in the past fortnight) but that she's struggled to get winners on the Sussex Downs in recent times for all that she has tried. If that's a knock, the breeding - by a Derby winner out of a mare bred from Dansili - offers hope. He might at least win the Fred Winter if failing here! (Whilst that may appear harsh, he has an excellent pedigree for that change of direction).

Of the rest, A Star Above may get a form boost from Au Clair De Lune, whom she beat last time, that one fancied (by me at least) in the last on Tuesday.

Yes, it's very trappy, but I will lean nervously in the direction of 9/1 Mambo Nights, who threatens plenty more at this trip and whose form is rock solid.

2.45 Molecomb Stakes (Group 3, 5f, 2yo)

A flying five for fast juveniles, the Molecomb has advertised the ability of the likes of Cotai Glory, Kachy, Havana Grey and Liberty Beach in recent years. This is all about speed.

The one I like most is Sardinia Sunset. Second in a hot early season novice, she then finished a fine fourth in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. Dropped to Listed grade last time she made no mistake, scoring by a length. She has the highest Topspeed figure, the highest Racing Post Rating, the highest Peter May 'SR' figure, and is best in at the weights with her fillies' allowance. She was also fast enough to lead in her first two races yet tactically versatile enough to sit in behind when winning that Listed pot last time.

There are plenty of dangers, including Michael O'Callaghan's impressive debut scorer, Steel Bull. He was slowly away that day and, if breaking more alertly for the experience, will be a threat to all.

I'm not mad about Significantly, who has found one too good on each of his three starts and has recorded regressive time figures in the process; but Wings Of A Dove could conceivably take a step forward. Behind Sardinia Sunset in both that Newmarket novice and the Queen Mary, she showed up really well having fluffed the start behind Ubettabelieveit in the National Stakes at Sandown.

Army Of India reverts from a turning six on the all-weather to a straight turf five, the Mark Johnston-trained dual scorer having the pace to contest the running and the stamina to see out any burn up on the front end. He'd be far from a shock winner for all that he lacks the class of some of these.

9/2 Sardinia Sunset looks decent to me.

3.15 Sussex Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 3yo+)

What a race in prospect. What. A. Race.

This mile set-to includes the winners of the 2000 Guineas (Kameko), the Irish equivalent (Siskin), the Queen Anne Stakes (Circus Maximus), and the Summer Mile (Mohaather). Throw in Wichita, close third in the St James's Palace Stakes, and Vatican City, runner up behind Siskin at the Curragh - and San Donato, second to Mohaather - and we have a sumptuous serving of something special.

Stepping away from the individual ability of this septet to stare at some cold facts for a moment reveals that three-year-olds have won 13 of the last 21 renewals (62% of the winners, from 42% of the runners). That's a nod to how many three-year-olds are retired at the end of their Classic season as much as the weight for age allowance but, regardless of which you place greater store by, the fact is that the younger gang have historically had an advantage.

Favoured is the unbeaten Siskin, who did well to extricate himself from a pocket in the Irish 2000 and win by daylight. That looked unlikely for much of the race and is testament to the acceleration of Ger Lyons's colt, a son of First Defence. He travels well, has tactical speed and is unbeaten: what's not to like? Well, perhaps nothing; but maybe the fact that he was withdrawn from the Middle Park Stakes after getting extremely worked up in the stalls at Newmarket on his only trip outside Ireland.

That might just have been a freak, of course, but he is unlikely to truncate in price in the early yards of the race so, if you love him, it could be worth backing him once the gates have opened and he's shown himself to be focused on the job. There is a very good chance I'm over-analysing what happened at Newmarket, however.

More recently at the same Suffolk venue, Kameko came with a sustained run to score in the 2000 Guineas. While there was no fluke about that, the perception remains that he's a ten-furlong horse who got away with it on a stiff straight mile track. This easy turning mile just may test his speed too much and his stamina not enough.

Siskin's trainer is most afraid of Mohaather, the four-year-old Showcasing colt who bounded away from his rivals in an Ascot Group 2 on the round course at the Berkshire track last time. Steady early fractions made for a sprint finish and he proved much the best in that context. It was also steady early over the same track and trip - but on the straight course - when he couldn't cope with Circus Maximus's masterclass in front end control in the Queen Anne. Mohaather has yet to do it in Group 1 company - beaten five lengths on both occasions he's tried. While it is too early to say he cannot win a G1, he looks short enough even if there were credible excuses for both his defeats at the top table.

Circus Maximus re-engages here, having been a close second in this race last year. There, he gave best only late on to the excellent-on-his-day Too Darn Hot, and his overall CV is impressive, including Group 1 mile wins in the St James's Palace and Prix du Moulin as well as that Queen Anne score. He's tough and high class but probably does need to grind it out from the front; that makes him susceptible on a speed track like this.

His barn mates, Wichita and Vatican City, are not without hope. The former represents this year's St James's Palace form in the absence of Palace Pier and Pinatubo, small margins in front of him at Ascot. I presume he'll chase Circus Maximus's lead - it certainly doesn't make sense for them to take each other on. Previously a neck second to Kameko in the 2000 Guineas, he may reverse placings with that one on a track which, as mentioned, is more about speed.

Vatican City was another to suffer interference in the Irish 2000 but still did best of the rest behind Siskin. It's a stretch to suggest he'd have beaten the winner with a clear run, so I won't; and it is hard to find a reason why he should reverse form here, for all that there is not necessarily a huge amount between them.

The 25/1 outsider San Donato may outrun his odds without perhaps being good enough to make the frame. His winning form is at six furlongs so it's a fair shout that a mile on Ascot's uphill finish, even in a steadily run race, asked too much stamina-wise. This easier mile threatens to be just as much about speed as that Ascot Group 2 but a little less about stamina. He'll be held up for a late run and I'd be happy to take evens he doesn't finish last!

This is a great race but not an easy one from a betting perspective. To be frank, I don't really like any of them enough at the prices to bet. So I won't. So there. 🙂

Really looking forward to watching it, though, natch.

3.45 Alice Keppel Fillies' Conditions Stakes (Class 2, 5f, 2yo)

I'm not going to pretend I have a line on this race.

What I will say is that Jane Chapple-Hyam's unraced filly is interesting, a) because this is a deep end in which to lob an unraced filly, and b) because Jane has a very good five-year course record. She is also capable of saddling debut winners as the image below shows:

The red 14/30 imply that J C-H is in poor form; while no winners from 20 runners in the last 30 days is frustrating, a quarter of those have made the frame which is in line with her two-year place strike rate (see the 'All' row). In a race where the standard of opposition is not quite top class, there will be worse throwaway penny wagers than 33/1 Lady Amalthea this week.

4.20 Theo Fennell Handicap (7f, Class 3 0-95, 3yo+)

We close with a seven furlong handicap where as many as twenty runners line up. Seven furlongs is a draw bias trip, as we can see from the image below which displays 'percentage of rivals beaten' (PRB).

The PRB3 line - rolling three-stall average PRB - shows an almost linear relationship from low (very good) to high (dreadful).

The draw / run style heat map relates a similar tale. Low, and especially low and led, is the way to go.

Let's try to apply that information to the actual pace map for the race:

There's a bundle of pace on by the looks of it, so I'd want to be siding with a low drawn horse ridden for luck. They aren't drawn any lower than 1, from which stall Arigato (at around 17/2) will emerge. He's a seven furlong specialist, and maybe also a Newmarket specialist, but he has conditions and is in great form.

Dirty Rascal is 12/1, won the race last year and has stall four for his repeat bid. He's changed trainers, from Richard Hannon to Tom Ward, but not owners, and he runs off the exact same handicap mark as last year. His chance is obvious.

18 others who could play a part but draw is my kingmaker angle.

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Good luck

Matt