It’s always tricky writing a blog just after you’ve drawn a blank, but I’m not going to apologise too much for that. My views in this column are exactly that – my own personal view of a race which sets out my logic for picking a particular horse, or deciding not to back one. If you disagree with that logic, then I positively encourage you to back your own selections – the picks posted are merely the ones I decide to back with my own money. Without further ado, here are yesterday’s results – it seems I had an unprofitable knack for picking 4th placed horses, a remarkable 6 in 7 races. Grrrrr.
2:00 – The Corsican, 2nd @ 15/8; Watersmeet 4th
2:35 – Convey 4th; Moheet 6th
3:10 – Basem 4th; Donncha 7th
3:45 – Out Do 10th; Line Of Reason 4th
4:20 – Furiant 2nd @ 8/1 (18/1 adv) Wedge 8th
4:55 – New Providence 4th; Osaila 2nd @ 5/2
5:30 – Newera 5th; Master Zephyr 4th
And so to the final day, and farewell to Richard Hughes – a fine jockey whom will be a welcome addition to the training ranks.
2:00 – Class 2 Handicap, 6f, 3yo+. The consolation race for the Stewards’ Cup, and one with a clear favourite in the shape of Direct Times. A lightly-raced 4yo with only 5 career starts, winning 3 of those, all over 6 furlongs. Quite how he’ll cope on this track in a 28-runner cavalry charge, though, is anyone’s guess and at the prices I’d rather have at least double-figure shots on my side. Mick Channon had Malabar in prime condition yesterday, and for that reason my attention is drawn to Shore Step, beaten only by the smart Tanzeel at York last time out. That was only last week and if he repeats that run this gelding can certainly go close. Major Jack is a consistent sort for Roger Charlton, but has yet to win on turf, so whilst he might threaten the places, it’s tricky to put him down as a winner. Simon Crisford saddles The Hooded Claw. Mutawathea, Crisford’s only other runner at Goodwood thus far this week, was as suspected the subject of a late gamble on Wednesday and was just touched off in second, and I’m happy to take a chance on his entry here.
Selection: SHORE STEP
Alternative: THE HOODED CLAW
2:35 – Class 2 Handicap, 1m4f, 3yo. A few weeks ago at Ascot, the card was ended with two smart horses winning by the names of Dartmouth and River Dart. I was on them both and they both look to have a chance today, but the combination of Sir Michael Stoute and Olivier Peslier is hard to ignore, and so Dartmouth gets the verdict as our main selection. Mark Johnston saddles just the four horses from this 13-runner field, and as ever, it’s tricky to pick between his charges. Novancia is the most lightly-raced of the quartet and so is fancied to be open to further progress, and she therefore makes it as our tentative second selection. Senrima, under Richard Hughes, and Barreesh for Hannon and Dettori, should not be ignored, with Barreesh in particular looking like he’ll appreciate the step up in trip.
3:10 – Group 1, 1m1f192y, 3yo+. This race is the subject of one of my favourite ever race finishes, when Ouija Board and Alexander Goldrun literally went head-to-head for a full three furlongs, with Ouija Board prevailing by just a short head at the finish. Today’s field looks very classy, and the claims of Legatissimo are obvious. She was desperately unfortunate not to complete the Guineas and Oaks double, and had legitimate claims to feel hard done by in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. However, whilst there is no doubting her quality, Diamondsandrubies was one of the clearer victims of the Oaks bumping match, and did well to finish fourth before her excellent effort in holding off Legatissimo at the Curragh. Aidan O’Brien has kept faith with Seamie Heffernan in the saddle and I fancy her at a slightly larger price than Legatissimo. Another hard luck story in the Oaks was Star Of Seville, who more than compensated for that effort in the French equivalent, and John Gosden’s filly can go close here.
Alternative: STAR OF SEVILLE
3:45 – Class 2 Handicap, 6f, 3yo+. If the Stewards’ Cup doesn’t get your blood pumping as 28 thoroughbreds charge down the Sussex countryside, then stop reading this and find something else to do with your Saturdays. The only place to start is with the horse I strongly fancied at Royal Ascot, before the horse himself fancied a 2 mile hurdle race instead, with those hurdles including rails, racegoers and cars. If Huntsmans Close behaves himself going down to the start (Roger Charlton missed Quest For More’s Northumberland Plate win because he was concerned with Huntsmans Close’s winning effort at Windsor) then he must have a great chance, and with his form since September including a victory in a 26 runner race and second in a 22 runner race, he knows how to handle traffic. Magical Memory looks like he will go off favourite and being 3lbs well in that seems fair, but I like a couple at larger prices. Jack Dexter has been sent the 443 miles from Scotland to here, and Jim Goldie’s horses have been running well recently. Whilst he probably would have appreciated some rain, 33/1 still looks big with the bookies paying 5 places. Algar Lad for David O’Meara also looks set for a big race, and whilst his jockey Sam James may not be a household name, he has a great strike rate recently for O’Meara and rates a decent each way bet, whilst the very game and consistent Tropics can go well even under top weight.
Selection: HUNTSMANS CLOSE
Alternative: ALGAR LAD
4:20 – Class 2 Maiden, 7f, 2yo. 17 runners here and only 13 starts between those runners, so as is often the case, we have very little to go on and the market is often a good guide. Of those with racecourse experience, perhaps the best bet is Mediciman, for the ever shrewd Henry Candy. He looks sure to come on for his debut when he ran green, and under the safe hands of Adam Kirby I fancy him over both Folkswood for Charlie Appleby and Hairdryer (owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, naturally) for Richard Hannon. At a slightly bigger price I like the look of Yorkee Mo Sabee. Whilst the owner loves to get his surname in his horses’ names (think Yorkidding and Yorkindred Spirit to name but two), this looks an intriguing prospect and being a 2yo trained by Mark Johnston, I once again find him impossible to ignore.
Alternative: YORKEE MO SABEE
4:55 – Class 2 Handicap, 3yo, 7f. Another Goodwood handicap, and another race in which Mark Johnston saddles four horses. Of those four, my preference is for Denzille Lane. My main concern here is that he blew the start last time at Newmarket, which ruined his chances even before it turned out he didn’t appreciate the soft ground. The reason for that concern is that Assault On Rome, whom I picked on Wednesday, also blew the start in his penultimate race before doing the same at Goodwood. If we’re prepared to draw a line through Denzille Lane’s error and hope it isn’t becoming a habit of his, then I think at a best-priced 9/1 he can outrun his stablemates Enlace, Mambo Paradise and Surewecan. Fox Trotter represents Richard Hughes’ last ever ride as a jockey, but ignoring the emotion, it’s hard to see him winning this, and so the alternative selection is Flash Fire for Charlie Appleby and William Buick. This horse has been aimed at this race since winning last time out and has a great chance.
Selection: DENZILLE LANE
Alternative: FLASH FIRE
6:00 – Class 3 Handicap, 1m1f, 4yo+. We haven’t missed a race – there is an Arab race at 5:30 before this closer, and in these apprentice races it’s often better to look at the jockey bookings. Sammy Jo Bell has made a name for herself this year, but seeing as Imshivalla didn’t see out her race on Wednesday, it’s hard to see her doing so today so quickly afterwards. Instead, I’m looking at those apprentices that can still claim even in these races, and those three are Edward Greatrex, Tom Marquand and Megan Nicholls. Greatrex rides Yeager, who seems to have found a bit of form this year after a pretty poor 4yo season. Marquand rides Illusive for Lady Cecil, and this former resident of Ballydoyle has placed the last twice of this mark, and I fancy him to do at least that in this race. Finally, Nicholls rides the 2013 winner of this race, Highland Duke. As is often the case with these handicappers, a decent win sets them back for a while afterwards, but Highland Duke is now back to near enough his last winning mark and can go close again.
Alternative: HIGHLAND DUKE