That’s the Goodwood & Galway horse racing Festival’s ‘done and dusted’ for another year and we enjoyed some great racing and saw some fantastic performances at both meetings. In this weeks column I am going to concentrate on Goodwood and there were plenty of horses that should be going into your trackers from that Festival.
Before looking at last weeks eyecatchers, I will take you back to the beginning of June and the Epsom Eyecatchers column. That week I highlighted a horse that should go in your trackers. That horse was the Mark Johnston Fire Fighting and this is what I wrote after his run in an Epsom handicap.
“…His two best performance last summer where when a strong finishing 3rd to Mahsoob at Royal Ascot over 1m 2f. He was beaten just ¾ length that day off a mark of 110, he then ran just as well in a valuable handicap at Glorious Goodwood when beaten 1 ½ lengths into third by the useful Mount Logan again off a mark of 110. He now races off 106 will probably drop another 1lb or two after this run. Like many of his trainers old handicappers he is the sort to handicap himself and he will be of interest in the big handicaps this summer at around 1m 2f, especially when he gets quick ground 3/12 6 places on good to firm”.
The five year old got his ground last Tuesday and showed great courage to win in the hands of jockey Adam Kirby. There was plenty of double figure prices about this horse in the bookies early bird lists for the race who was returned 8/1 co favourite of five. Hopefully like me you had a nice bet on the horse which will have set you up for a good weeks punting.
I will be adding some more eyecatchers from Goodwood and the other meetings to the software for Eyecatcher Pro subscribers.
Unlike previous Festivals I won’t be looking at the best performances for each of the five days, as there are five tracker horses that I want to concentrate on. However, I will give you what I consider was the performance of the week and it wasn’t The Gurkha winning the Sussex Stakes or Minding winning the Nassau Stakes.
The going for the week was good to firm for the first four days but unexpected rain on Saturday morning combined to watering on Friday night saw the ground closer to good than good to firm. It was a good week for the punters as plenty of well fancied horse won their races. The biggest gamble of the week was landed when handicap ‘blot’ Franklin D won the Betfred Mile Handicap on the Friday for trainer Michael Bell at 7/4. That was just one of a few big gambles that went in at the meeting.
It was nice to see a smaller trainer get in the action with the big name names. Take a bow David Griffiths who’s 9 year old Take Cover made all to win the valuable Group 2 King George Stakes over 5f on the Friday. Griffiths trains near Doncaster and it’s a tribute to his training skills that he could land this very valuable sprint for a second time, having also won it in 2014 and finished a head second last year with the same horse, as this years renewal looked stronger than previous ones.
I can continue to have my reservations about Qatar government sponsorship of this flagship meeting but there is no denying the fact that the field sizes were up given the extra prize money pumped in by the sponsors making for some really competitive racing.
Performance of the Week – Dancing Star – Became the first filly to win the Steward Cup since her close relative, Lochsong back in 1992, and was another three year old winner, following on from Magical Memory last year. She won the same three year old handicap at Newmarket’s July Meeting that Magical Memory had won I did mention in this column that the form of the race won by Dancing Star was solid. This is what I wrote:
“On paper this year’s renewal looked as good as ever and I think the form can be followed”
Hopefully some of you had a saver on Dancing Star after reading that comment. The filly has just improved with every run and her form figures this year are 11211. Should continue to progress over 6f, now 5/6 6 places over that distance and looks a Group filly in the making for her trainer Andrew Balding whose father Ian trained the mighty Lochsong.
There is plenty to like about the filly attitude and they way she digs in off the bridle and her run to take Festival’s big betting race is worthy of performance of the week.
Tuesday – Day 1
Pure Art – Ralph Beckett – The three year old came into the race after a good 2nd in handicap at Doncaster. Clearly progressing nicely this was only her 4th career start in this 1m handicap. The Dutch Art filly was sent off the 100/30 favourite in a race that was won by her bigger priced stablemate. The slow early gallop didn’t suit her and she wasn’t in the best of position when the race started in earnest three furlongs from home. Despite that and also not getting the best of runs inside the final furlong she was staying on nicely at the finish to take 4th and looks capable of winning a nice pot when she gets a more even gallop to chase or a step up in trip?
Thesme – Nigel Tinkler – The four year old filly had been progressing nicely over 5f last summer winning twice at York and once at Redcar. She has continued her improvement this year and if you forgive her first run on soft ground at Bath in April she came into the race having run well in three valuable handicaps finishing 323 and not being beaten more than 1 ¾ lengths in any of those races but keeps going up the handicap for not winning. She finished 2nd once again here but I think her performance can be slightly marked up. She led on the stands side and arguably did best of all the horses to run on that side of the track all week. Clearly suited by a fast 5f on good or quicker ground she goes particularly well at York where she has form figures of 1133 and there is a handicap on the first day of the Ebor meeting which she will be of some interest in, particularly if she gets a decent draw. She also holds a Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes entry but I think the handicap would be the better race for her.
Wednesday – Day 3
Oceane – Alan King – Came into the marathon 2m 5f handicap having won at Ascot over 1m 6f on his previous start. Last year the four year old had been beaten ¾ of a length by subsequent St Leger winner Simple Verse at Salisbury back in June of last year. He didn’t really build on that in a couple of subsequent runs on the flat but did win two juvenile hurdles in October. At Ascot he showed that he is all about stamina and it showed again in this race. Did best of those horses who were held up and finished best off all to grab 3rd at the line. Will surely now have the Cesarewitch as his end of season target, a race that was won last year by the trainer. One to note when the prices come out for the race!
Shady McCoy – Ian Williams – I do like a horse that is held up in their race coming through to lead just before the line and winning by a small margin which shouldn’t lead the handicapper to put the horse too much in the weights. The six year old improved ‘leaps and bounds’ last year winning four of his six starts and the ending the season with career best when beaten just a nose at Ascot over 7f. This was only his second start of the season and he showed a great turn off foot well inside the final furlong to win this 7f handicap just before the line. Hopefully the handicapper won’t put the horse up too much for this ½ length win. Might be a six year old but his progress up the ratings might not have finished yet. Has won on rain softened ground but looks a far better horse on good or quicker going being 5/10 8 places on such going, 4/8 6 places over 7f now and 4/6 6 places when racing 16 to 30 days since his last start. His running style is ideally suited to a big field and wouldn’t be one to take to short a price in a small field.
Thursday – Day 3
Dwight D – William Haggas – The first race on Day 3 was a 1m 2f handicap for three year olds. On paper it looked a competitive race and it turned out to be one. I think the form of this race will work out well and its worth looking out for runners from the race. Indeed I could have easily picked out three eyecatchers from this race. I settled on this one who had showed improved form on his previous run when 3rd at Newmarket on his handicap debut. The gelding operation that he had after finishing last in the Chester Vase has certainly done the trick. The improvement he showed at Newmarket was continued here. Was slowly away and being held up wasn’t the best in this race where those closer to the pace had a big advantage. He wasn’t knocked about in the final furlong when his jockey realized he wasn’t going to win but he was actually only beaten 2 ½ lengths into 5th. Clearly handles quick going and looks capable of staying further. It will be interesting to see if his trainer sends him to York later in the month. Looks capable of winning a handicap whilst the going is still in his favour.
Friday – Day 4
Cosmeapolitan – Alan King – Won his maiden at Chesptow on soft ground last September and then was no match for Gifted Master & co in a Newmarket Group 3, on his final start as a two year old. Has run well this season and looks to be improving as he steps up in distance. Wasn’t the best away and was a bit outpaced three furlongs from home but was staying on to take 4th at the finish. Stays 1m 3f well and on the evidence of this run further could well bring out further improvement in the three year old. Handles good to firm as he has shown on his two starts but maybe he will be better when gets some more juice in the ground. Will no doubt go juvenile hurdling in the autumn but there is a handicap on the level in him off this sort of mark before he does.
Saturday – Day 5
Tigerwolf – Mick Channon – On a day when I could have posted up four or five eyecatchers, I have settled on a three year old maiden. Was having his first start since the end of April in this Class 3 7f handicap. In a race where it was hard to make up ground from the rear and the eventual first and second were in the first two for most of the race the son of Dream Ahead put in a very much improved performance here. Despite not getting the best of passages inside the final furlong he still finished best of all to be beaten less than a length at the post. Can get another furlong, despite his sire being a top sprinter. There are races in the colt off his present mark of 85, although he remains a maiden after six starts.
That’s it for now, and now all that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting.