Good morning all,
This is one of the busiest weeks of the year for me, second only to Royal Ascot (in a normal year anyway) as I’m moving around the country working for the latter half of the week. I’ve already been to Sandown and Epsom last night, and now for the next two days it’s going to be Goodwood all the way. Hoping for dry weather! (Update – I have never, ever, got so wet as I did at Sandown Wednesday night.)
The rain at the beginning of the week means we’re dealing with ground with some cut in it this week. As of 6.30am this morning, we've had another 3.6mm in the night, but it is very blustery and the ground remains simialr to what it was yesterday.
It’s a decent Friday card, so let’s see if we can find where the value lies.
1.50 Goodwood – 2m4½f Handicap
Flag start for this marathon, one of my favourite races of the year.
The solid option has to be The Grand Visir, who really deserves to win one of these after a string of good efforts in the past year. His third in the Queen Alexandra, when seemingly poorly drawn (you’d think it doesn’t matter over such a trip, but stall 1 isn’t great, and four of the first five came from high numbers) was a terrific effort and he ran right to that form at Sandown last time. He’ll enjoy some cut, and I think he can reverse Ascot form with Calling The Wind, despite being worse off at the weights. It’s to be remembered what a good record Ian Williams has in the race too, winning it three times.
Elysian Flame is probably a bit better known as a hurdler, but he’s been in good nick on the Flat this season and ran a cracker in the Ascot Stakes, finishing third, and that on ground probably plenty quick enough for him too. He’ll stay and stay well, and it isn’t hard to see him running a big race as well.
2.25 Goodwood – Bonhams Stakes (1m)
The unbeaten Baaeed is going to be very short but he will need to prove himself on this ground, although I’ll grant you that on pedigree he should be fine, and if he is he’ll probably win again.
El Drama ran a cracker in the Eclipse and a repeat of that takes him close, but these are very different conditions and he was well held on softish ground the time before. Looking for some value against the favourite, it might lie with the improving Tasman Bay, who has seen the back end of both Hurricane Lane and Alenquer this season, and there was nothing wrong with his second to the latter named in the King Edward VII. He did plenty soon enough on heavy ground there, and conditions here ought to be more to his liking. A drop back to a mile is the big question, but I think he might handle it better than suspected, and a small each-way bet will be my play.
3.00 – Unibet Golden Mile (1m)
Rhoscolyn has yet to actually win over a mile, but he’s won over 7½f at Beverley and was beaten under a length over Pontefract’s mile earlier in the week, so you’d be hard pushed to say he doesn’t stay. He was a ready winner here in May (7f) on soft ground, form that has worked out okay, and as long as the quickish turnaround doesn’t bother him, he has a solid chance.
Qaysar has his share of weight, but he’ll find this drop back into handicap company welcome and his best two runs this season have come on soft and heavy ground. The track is an unknown, and it’ll be some performance to win a handicap this tough from a mark of 105, but you can be sure (given connections) that he’ll be tuned up for this and if he gets a pace to aim at (which looks likely with Maydanny in the field) he could go well.
I have to mention Trais Flours, who let me down at Sandown two starts ago when I fancied him rotten, but I’ve always thought there’s a big handicap in him and although he’s going to have to negotiate a lot of traffic coming from the rear of the field, that alone won’t be enough to put me off. Whilst some of his better recent form has come on quick ground, most of his quality French form for Andre Fabre was on ground similar to today’s. Stall 15 might not be the death knell it would have been on quicker, and at a big price, is worth consideration.
3.35 Goodwood – King George Qatar Stakes 5f
Battaash possibly has a similar air to Stradivarious now, in that he’s clearly still a very good horse but has perhaps lost that air of invincibility that he’s had for a few seasons. You could argue he’ll come on from his Kings Stand run but given he’d won first time up for the previous four seasons, that isn’t a given, despite the fact he'd had a setback previously.
Our old friend Arecibo must have a chance. Conditions should be fine for him, having won easily at Newmarket on soft earlier in the year but is just as effective on quicker, and he seems impervious to whatever the ground throws at him. He just needs a strong pace to aim at, and with Ornate (who often outruns big odds in this race), Good Effort and possibly Art Power all on the front, this should be quick. Stall 12 means he’ll need some luck in running, but that’s often the way with him and it hasn’t really stopped him this season.
Glass Slippers is quality and was second to Battaash in this last year, but that came off the back of a run at Ascot and that isn’t the case this time around. I think she’ll need the run. Dragon Symbol is in top form but whether a fast five furlongs is what he wants is open to debate. Similar comments apply to Art Power too, and the more I look at the race the more I like Arecibo. Come on Jamie, avoid the traffic…
Today's selection – The Grand Visir (e/w) 1.50 Goodwood.
Good luck with all your bets today,