The Glorious Meeting continues …..
There is no doubt that Alan King’s Coeur De Lion brings the best recent form to the table in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap having run well at both Royal Ascot behind Lagostovegas and Newbury behind Stratum. While he only runs off 1lb higher than in those two races, it also proves the handicapper probably has him just about where he wants him.
At the other end of the scale Sir Mark Prescott’s Piedita who began life in handicaps on 68 and is running here off 84 after three wins. Lil Rockerfeller looks a short price for a horse who hasn’t run on the level since May 2015 and his last three runs over hurdles were some way short of his very best form. I’m a huge fan of Ian Williams and reckon he has trained COOL SKY to peak for a repeat win in this race. He may be a nine-year-old but won a decent race over hurdles at Aintree in May and had a nice tune up for this in the consolation race for the Northumberland Plate behind Cosmeli.
He’s at home on decent ground. Arthur McBride is another veteran who could go well at a huge price as he’s down to the same mark off which he was third to Cool Sky last year.
It is no surprise at all to see Hughie Morrison’s Corgi heading the betting for the mile and a half handicap given how well he ran at Royal Ascot. He just came off worst in a tremendous tussle with Mark Johnston’s Baghdad for the King George V Stakes and prior to that he had won a decent handicap in style, looking an improved performer.
He has another Johnston horse to worry about this time in Making Miracles with Ryan Moore booked, who was behind Corgi at Ascot but won the Old Newton Cup from the front in fine style. INFRASTRUCTURE finished behind Corgi at Sandown but I think it has just taken a while for the penny to drop.
That Sandown race really put an edge on him as he then went to Salisbury for the Bibury Cup, which tends to work out well, and he won comfortably. The handicapper has not missed him, putting him up 7lb, but the excellent Martyn Meade is just the man to place him to best effect.
The Molecomb Stakes has been won by some real speedsters in recent seasons such as Cotai Glory, Kachy and Havana Grey, who have all developed into out-and-out five furlong specialists so this isn’t a race where you need to look for horses who might need further in time. Rumble Inthejungle certainly fits that bill as his sire, Bungle Inthejungle, won this in 2012 and he was having just his second run when fourth in the Norfolk Stakes.
One who finished some way behind him that day was VINTAGE BRUT, but it was one of those races where if you’d backed him, like me, you knew your fate from a very early stage. He never looked like winning and I’m putting that down to the fact that he’d been to the Ascot sale the night before the meeting and it might have all just proved too much for a young horse. Prior to that he had beaten Richard Fahey’s Sabre in a Listed race at Sandown and that one was second in the Norfolk so on a strict line of form he should have been bang there.
I’m a forgiving sort when horses have a run that looks too bad to be true and given Koncheck went on to be second in the July Stakes, having finished third in the Sandown race, that form stands up to the closest scrutiny and given he was favourite for the Norfolk, he looks a very big price for a weaker race. Tim Easterby is having another fantastic season, he has a live shout in the St Leger with Wells Farhh Go but a win for this youngster would advertise his talents on the big stage in a different sphere.
The Sussex Stakes is perennially the best race of the meeting at Goodwood and this year it has the potential to be another cracker. I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed by Expert Eye early in the season because I’d hoped he could be a major force this year after what he did in the Vintage Stakes at this meeting last term. I think his return to form was down to a big field and a strong pace, though, something he is unlikely to get here, and it would be no surprise to see him run keen again, which spoiled his chance in his first couple of runs this season.
I don’t think it has much to do with the trip, in fact I’m surprised he didn’t run in the July Cup rather than this, but Sir Michael Stoute certainly knows more than me. He has a major task on his hands taking on WITHOUT PAROLE, though. John Gosden’s unbeaten colt burst on to the scene winning an egg and spoon race, well that is what it looked at the time, at Yarmouth in an impressive time yet six lengths behind him that day was Ostillo, the subsequent winner of the Britannia.
While he failed to set the world alight when winning at Sandown afterwards, the soft ground was blamed and it was hard not to be impressed by him when he won the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot. It looked a strong field and I felt he was value for more than the winning margin as circumstances forced Frankie Dettori to kick for him earlier than ideal.
Andrea Atzeni takes over from his fellow Italian this time and he will surely be under orders to delay his challenge a little longer and I’m struggling to see him beaten. Lord Glitters has the potential to outrun his price but with stablemate So Beloved a likely non-runner the each-way angle disappears somewhat.
The nature of the Galway Plate could change considerably if first reserve Patrick’s Park gets a run and he could go off ridiculously short. The fact he has won two good handicaps already and still isn’t high enough in the weights to guarantee a run shows how much the quality of this race has gone up in recent years. We have genuine Grade One horses at the top of the weights but I like the look of Henry de Bromhead’s CALINO D’AIRY. He was last seen finishing a fine third to the ill-fated Finian’s Oscar at the Grand National meeting.
I would have loved him to be competing off his old mark of 138 but the handicapper had no option but to put him up 7lb. That was just his fifth run over fences, though, so you’d like to think there’s plenty more to come from him and his excellent trainer has won two of the last three renewals of this race so he knows exactly what type of horse it takes to win it.
Selections on Day 2:
Prices correct as of 08:00 Wednesday 1st August.