The fifth and final day of what has been a fabulous week at Glorious Goodwood. The elements threw everything at its patrons with a very wet Wednesday turning the ground almost heavy.
It has been drying out since although the forecast (which admittedly is very interchangeable this week) suggests Saturday’s weather could follow a similar scenario to that of midweek, so keep a weather watch as we may be looking for horses who like to get their toe in again.
A case in example of watching for the weather comes in the opener as COUNT OTTO and MANY A STAR both have positives coming into Saturday’s opener, but enthusiasm would be tempered if plenty of rain does fall.
Soft ground would be unsuitable for both, but with strong winds forecast that may blow those clouds through and less falling than expected, the pair may still go well.
COUNT OTTO is on a hat-trick after a brace of wins at Epsom and Windsor and has run well in this contest twice before, finishing fifth in 2018 off a mark of 86 and sixth in 2019 off 90. He finds himself here off 80 an although officially 2lb ‘wrong’ he has won off much higher in his 69 race career.
Last year’s winner MANY A STAR finds himself 2lb lower than twelve months ag after two poor runs so far this season. The tongue tie is enlisted here suggesting breathing may have been an issue and he has course form figures of 312.
Connections may opt to withdraw if soft ground prevails, but they were the two that stood out in the opener.
One horse who shouldn’t be troubled by any rainfall is SWEET WILLIAM in the staying handicap. He is a Sea The Stars half-brother to a pair of heavy ground winners in Frankel’s Storm and Hurricane Lane no less who was third in the 2021 Derby and subsequent three time Group 1 winner.
He turned a competitive Newbury handicap over two miles into a procession a fortnight ago, winning very cosily from Novel Legend who is a very progressive stayer himself. It is surprising the handicapper only out him up 7lb, which means he will need to win here to have a shot at the Ebor in three weeks’ time at York. He would incur a 4lb penalty if successful which may be enough to squeeze him in to that lucrative contest. Team Gosden haven’t had their best week on the Sussex Downs but the unexposed 4yo can put that straight here. I have been a big fan of Post Impressionist as a progressing staying handicapper and he can be forgiven the poor effort in the Northumberland Plate where he was never competitive form the rear and a wide draw. His win at York in October was impressive but off the same mark as SWEET WILLIAM, I don’t think he is open to the same amount of progression.
“Rain, rain, come our way” will be the cry from connections of LUISA CASATI in the G2 Lillie Langtry Stakes.
Tom Ward’s filly may have been a slightly surprising winner at the track in May when landing a listed prize, but proved she was able to mix it at this level when a four length fifth at Haydock in the G2 Lancashire Oaks. The ground was on the quick side that day and she couldn’t go with the leaders in the closing stages, but it was another step up the ladder and the slower ground here will certainly help her cause.
She finished just a length behind Time Lock there having been a length ahead of her in winning here at Goodwood yet is twice the price of that filly.
Favourite Free Wind needs to bounce back from a flat effort tin the Hardwicke Stakes and can be left alone at around 5/4. River Of Stars looks a big danger after a career best effort when narrowly beaten at Longchamp in Group 2 company three weeks ago over this trip and is feared more than the favourite.
The ultra-competitive Stewards Cup over six furlongs features 28 runners spread across the downhill straight course.
This race is unusual in the draw is made by connections of the runners, who choose a stall when their horse is pulled from the hat. I was lucky enough to witness the draw on Thursday when the connections of the first three horses drawn opted for stalls 20,14 and 6, basically not knowing where the preference for positions would be. As it grew on, they tended to take the stalls on the Stands side which is where most of the winners came on the opening two days, but by Thursday winners were heading down the middle, so who knows where the place to be is.
Safest bet would be to back a runner from each side, or something down the middle, and both of my picks will have options from central positions.
MR WAGYU has an incredible 20% career strike rate with 15 wins from his 74 starts. He was bang in the mix amongst plenty of these in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot when beaten less than three lengths but arrives here 2lb lower off a mark of 94. That is just 3lb higher than when winning the consolation race here in 2021 (on soft ground) and was sent off just 10/1 for last year’s contest off a mark of 106, 12lb above his current perch. He was second horse out to be drawn and John Quinn opted for a middle berth in 14. The handler had saddled three runners at Goodwood this week heading into Friday, with a pair of winners and a second with stable star Highfield Princess, a short price favourite in the King Geroge Qatar Stakes on Friday afternoon, to come.
The other pick is downhill specialist SPANISH STAR. He has finished in the first three in 34 of his 59 turf races (58%) and has won four of his ten starts at Goodwood. His course and distance form reads 4211711 while he also boasts winning form at Bath and Epsom, also downhill sprint tracks.
His Epsom win at the Betfred Derby meeting was followed by an excellent fifth in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and although a little below par last time and just 1lb below a career high mark, he looks a major each way player back at his favourite track. He is berthed in 17, middle to stands side and is reunited with his former regular pilot Liam Keniry.
Orazio will be popular after a fair sixth in the Wokingham when favourite in his hat-trick bid and looks to give Charlies Hills a third winner in nine running’s of the Stewards’ Cup. Nobody would begrudge Apollo One a victory after so many near misses in big contests this season. He has not finished out of the first three in his last six runs including at the Guineas meeting, the Betfred Derby meeting and in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot.
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