A frustrating third day, with Perfuse a big disappointment whilst Blue Rose Cen didn’t get room in a messy renewal of the Nassau Stakes that saw four Group 1 performers – winner Al Husn, runner-up Above The Curve, third place Nashwa and eventual fourth Blue Rose Cen – separated by a couple of lengths at most at the finish.
2023 Qatar Goodwood Festival, Day 4
Tuesday 1st August – Saturday 5th August
Live on ITV1 HD and ITV Hub from 1.30pm, and Mark Your Card on Racing TV from 11am
While we cannot be sure our selection would have won, a rematch between any of the contenders would be a fascinating contest.
A note of recognition is also deserved for Vandeek, who was an impressive winner of the Richmond Stakes in the style of a horse who has much more to give.
Ground: Conditions were still testing but the ground has dried on Day 3, and the surface was soft (with jockeys reporting that it was tacky underfoot) through the day. There’s little rain forecast so we should see better ground although runners will definitely be able to get their toe in, and fresh ground was opened for the runner.
One of the most crucial aspects of any race at Goodwood is the draw, and if there’s one race this week that’s defined by the starting stalls, then it’s arguably the Golden Mile (3.30). Only two horses have won from a wider stall than 9 since 2013, and the winners since 2015 have been drawn in 3, 3, 3, 2, 5 and 2 whilst low drawn stalls have often helped fill the places.
So, connections of Lattam must have been delighted when they drew stall 3 with their progressive handicapper, who overcame trouble in running to take the Irish Lincolnshire on soft/heavy ground on his debut before finishing a fair second at Newbury behind subsequent Royal Hunt Cup winner Jimi Hendrix in the Spring Cup.
He got the better of a bunched finish at Newcastle last time when coming from off the pace last time and up just 1lb in the handicap, has a favourite’s chance if Tom Marquand can get a good early position. If he does, he ought to run a serious race.
The standout choice in the King George Qatar Stakes (3.35) is Highfield Princess, who finished second and third in the King’s Stand & Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. She’s 7lbs clear of Equality and Ladies Church, and whilst the way Equality won the Coral Charge suggests he must not be underestimated, he may want a faster surface to show his best and Ladies Church was perhaps disappointing at the Curragh. Highfield Princess looks the most likely winner, but at 10/11 over Goodwood’s 5 furlongs there are probably better bets to be had.
It could be worth giving Law Of The Sea another chance in the opening stayers’ handicap (1.50). Since returning from Dubai, he’s finished an unlucky fourth in the Chester Cup, a good second at Haydock (winner got first run), and a fair fourth in the Ascot Stakes behind favourite Calling The Wind.
He was struck into in the Northumberland Plate, explaining a poor run at Newcastle (finished 18 of 19), and off 93 he has a sound each/way chance if recovered from that effort.
One of the most interesting races of the week is the Thoroughbred Stakes (2.25), which sees the highly promising Nostrum – so impressive when taking the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes on his seasonal return – and the very progressive Docklands, who was much more impressive than a half-length winning margin implied when taking the Britannia Stakes, take each other on.
Whilst Nostrum has Group 1 potential, it’s possible to argue that Docklands is overpriced in comparison given how progressive he’s proven, and this race is one worth keeping the notebook out for. Don’t discount the Simon and Ed-Crisford Knight, who was a comfortable winner of the Horris Hill Stakes last season before a disappointing reappearance. It would be a surprise if he’s not better than that.
William Haggas and his team were celebrating a Royal winner last year and I the betting is right they’ll be celebrating once again after the Glorious Stakes (4.10) as they have the first two in the betting. However favourite Hamish made hard work of an easier opportunity on ratings at York last time and Candleford hasn’t quite lived upto the potential she showed when romping home at Royal Ascot last year, and none of the runners made proper appeal.
There are any number of contenders for the Nursery (4.45) with Loaded Gun and Gaiden making the most appeal, but the finale (5.20) might provide the best value away from the ITV cameras in the shape of Balance Play.
He’s found a new level since stepping upto middle distances, finishing an excellent third in a strong 3yo handicap at Epsom on Derby Day when he was outpaced at a crucial stage on good to firm ground. The winner Torito finished a very creditable fourth in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot afterwards whilst runner up Silver Sword won impressively off 86 (a 4lbs higher mark) next time out.
Balance Play has since won cosily at Chester on a slower surface, and with this step up in trip likely to bring out more improvement, he can run a big race.
BACK Law Of The Sea 1 pt each/way in 1.50 Goodwood at 9/1 (⭐
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BACK Lattam 1 pt win in 3.00 Goodwood at 10/3 (⭐
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BACK Balance Play 1 pt win in 5.20 Goodwood at 5/1 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (AUGUST 2023): LOSS -1.50 points