Stradivarius makes it back to back Goodwood Cups
Stradivarius retained his Group One Qatar Goodwood Cup crown with a tremendous half-length success over Jessica Harrington’s Torcedor in a thrilling renewal of the two-mile contest.
The four-year-old son of Sea The Stars is chasing the WH Stayers’ Million, a bonus of £1 million offered by Weatherbys Hamilton which goes to the horse who wins one of four prep races in May followed by the Group One Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the Group One Qatar Goodwood Cup and the Group Two Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes at York on August 24th.
Ridden by Andrea Atzeni for the second successive year, Stradivarius tracked the steady pace set by Torcedor throughout the two-mile event. However, despite the best efforts of Torcedor’s jockey Colm O’Donoghue, Stradivarius picked up well in the closing stages to master Jessica Harrington’s charge to score a shade comfortably.
Reflecting on the success, Atzeni, who rode Stradivarius to victory in last year’s renewal, commented: “Stradivarius is a different horse compared to last year. I remember when I won on him last year, he was quite narrow.
“He has done a tremendous job as a four-year-old. I remember at York on his first run this year, I walked into the paddock and didn’t recognise him because of how well he had done.
“I am in a very lucky position to be here. Unfortunately, Frankie is suspended, but he has been very helpful. This is what it’s all about, these big days.
“Colm rode a very good race from the front. The only problem today was that I had to get around James Doyle’s horse, who pushed me wide, whereas Colm had a nice run up the rail. I felt I always had Colm covered, and the last thing I wanted to do today was give Stradivarius a hard race.
“He can only get better this fella. He is a very good four-year-old as he has shown already. He might even be better as a five-year-old but how much better can he get really? He has done nothing wrong so far. He is definitely the best stayer around.”
Gosden said of the Bjorn Nielsen-owned-and-bred Stradivarius: “We had a great horse race on Saturday in the King George, and another great horse race today – two really brave horses who both had a tough race at Royal Ascot [in the Gold Cup]. Colm [O’Donoghue, who rode Torcedor] rode a clever race in front today and did everything right, but our horse battled hard.
“The pace was a little stop-go, which you would expect at Goodwood when someone is in front and making the running to suit themselves, and to that extent we had work to do to get past him. With the Aga Khan’s horse [Vazirabad] not coming for this race, and Order Of St George absent too, Torcedor became the obvious danger, and when Jessie [Harrington] left him in at the six-day stage I thought ‘Oh, oh, we’re in for a battle’, but it proved to produce a fabulous race.
“It wasn’t quite the test of Ascot [where Stradivarius won the Gold Cup over an additional half a mile] but he got the job done. This is not a track where you want to give a rival too much rope, but all’s well that ends well. Congratulations to the second for making it such a fantastic race.
“They have long criticised chesnut horses with four white socks and a white face, or at least they did until The Minstrel came along in the 1970s and won Derbys and King Georges, and this horse is the same. He has a lot of heart and Andrea said he had the race under control in the last half a furlong.
“I’ve just ticked him over since Royal Ascot. He’s the most charming horse to be around – a real gentleman. He’s a little bit like a motorbike; he can go out there and do a little bit on his own or a bit in company. You press the button and off he goes, you flick the switch and he pulls up. He’s a lovely ride.”
Dark Vision with a bright future after Vintage success
Dark Vision impressed in the Group Two Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, under Silvestre De Sousa, showing he has a bright future.
He lengthened well under Silvestre De Sousa, beating Dunkerron and Confiding by 1 ¾ lengths and 1 ¼ lengths.
Johnston said of Dark Vision, who got away to a slow start in today’s race: “I never really thought that when I sent Dark Vision to Yarmouth that he would be coming to a Group Two race. Basically, when he is a massive horses and when he missed the break today I thought it was all over. I was just thinking that I have got to go home and teach this horse to come out of the stalls, and, at that stage, if he had come fourth, I would have said I had a really nice horse on my hands. I did not think until a furlong out that we had any chance of winning. He has obviously got a lot of ability, because he doesn’t know what he’s here for yet. Keeping the owners’ feet on the ground is the difficult thing at the moment. I haven’t thought ahead because we wanted to take little steps, but they can’t win races standing in their stable.
“Everybody thinks every winner of the Vintage Stakes is a potential Guineas horse, but this is the first race of the year which leads to thoughts of Newmarket next spring, and I’m not a great believer in planning for May while we have yet to reach August. This victory puts me in a fantastic mood.
“We had him [Dark Vision] and Victory Command entered in nursery handicaps and thought they would be good things, but we chose to take Victory Command to Ascot, and while I wasn’t sure about running Dark Vision in a Group Two race it proved to be the right decision.”
The two-year-old son of Dream Ahead was last entering the home straight, but made eyecatching headway in the final furlong towards the outside of the field to take the lead.
Dark Vision ran on strongly in the closing stages, with De Sousa effusive in his praise of the powerfully-built colt. He said: “I wanted to be with the leaders, or just behind them, but they went a bit quick early on and Dark Vision is such a big horse that he was slowly into stride.
“I got a shuffled back a bit further than a wanted but he has galloped out well from four furlongs out. I was always happy with what he was doing during the race.
“He is such a big horse and the other runner was half-trying to intimidate him. When he got his neck in there, he said “I’m going” and put the race to bed very quickly.
“Cantering down, he didn’t give me any feel at all – he never picked the bridle up – and he surprised me on the way back. I know he was favourite but needed to do a lot, when you look at the size of him on this track – it is such a sharp track, especially for two-year-olds over seven furlongs.
“Dark Vision did marvellous because he is such a big horse and he put the race to bed very quickly. He is a lovely horse and I am sure that he will improve.”
Alan King was thrilled by Dunkerron’s second-placed run, saying: “At the furlong pole, I thought we had it! That was smashing – I am really, really thrilled. Martin [Harley – jockey] said he was surprised with the way Dunkerron quickened between the two and the one [furlong pole]. I wished he had maybe held onto him for a little bit longer but…
“I think time will probably tell as to whether the winner is a proper horse.
“Dunkerron is in the Gimcrack and going back to six shouldn’t be a problem. He is in the Champagne [Stakes, Doncaster] as well. He will be going for those types of races.
“I don’t think for a minute we will go a yard beyond seven furlongs – it is new world for us.”
Sir Dancealot waltzes to Lennox victory
The David Elsworth-trained Sir Dancealot, got up in the shadows of the post to land the Group Two Qatar Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
The four-year-old son of Sir Prancealot endured a troubled passage throughout the home straight in the seven-furlong contest under Gerald Mosse, but once finding room a furlong from home, the bay gelding showed a tremendous turn of foot to score by a short-head from David O’Meara’s Suedois in second.
The David Simcock-trained Breton Rock, the 2017 winner, was head behind in third.
Newmarket trainer Elsworth said: “He got into more trouble than I get into down the pub on a Saturday night after I have had a few. Sir Dancealot would have been a very unlucky loser.
“I describe Sir Dancealot to the owners as like a tennis ball. He is bouncing up, going up, and I just wondered if he had reached the point of equilibrium – whether he had stopped or was even coming down. His level of form has been very good, which gave him a very good chance today.
“Four was a difficult draw for a horse who needs to be taken back a little bit and relaxed – he wants to do his running in the second half of the race. Gerald had a problem getting organised and everyone is trying to win. Whether the gaps materialise – a lot of good luck and good fortune is involved.
“We got lucky in the end but I feel he would have been an unlucky loser. We better be gracious in victory and say that it was a scramble.
“We had a crack at a Group One with him the other day and there are lots of races open to him. I put him in the Hungerford Stakes today.
“He is gelded now – he seemed to hang a little under pressure last year and, whether the gelding has helped because his undescended testicle seemed to cause him some discomfort. He is going very straight this year and I am sure it has helped him enormously.
“Winners give every trainer satisfaction and it’s nice to be associated with good horses.”
Rumble Inthejungle scorches to Molecomb Stakes victory
Rumble Inthejungle overcame a tardy start to land the Group Three Markel Insurance Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
At the start, Deia Glory and Well Done Fox led, while Rumble Inthejungle took a bump from Soldier’s Call.
With a furlong to race, Rumble Inthejungle had found his way to the front from Queen Of Bermuda and Soldier’s Call.
The leader extended his lead impressive in the final half a furlong, to give Tom Queally and Richard Spencer a Goodwood victory.
Rumble Inthejungle was 2 ½ lengths clear of Life Of Riley, who won a blanket finish for second, with Soldier’s Call third and then Vintage Brut.
Spencer said of the winner, who was fourth in the Group Two Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot on his previous start: “I felt if I could have got another run into him before Ascot he would have won there, but he went a bit weak on us when we wanted to do crucial bits of work. He’s only a baby still and he’s grown a lot since Ascot.
“I was very confident coming here today and couldn’t believe how people were putting the horse down. He was a good fourth at Royal Ascot and was the only horse who could lay up with [US challenger] Shang Shang Shang, and do it comfortably, and there was no Shang Shang Shang in this race.
“I was thinking they would have to go some to get past him, and he has a future, because he will stay six furlongs. Tom [Queally, the horse’s jockey] struggled to pull him up at Ascot and he did the same today – it’s just as well there are crash barriers [around the bend after the Goodwood straight].
“He’s going to be a nicer three-year-old, but we’ll have a big party tonight. There’s a chip shop in Newmarket called Rumbles, and I regularly visit it, so I’m hoping they backed the horse and I can have free fish and chips tonight – we told them he was running.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for two or three weeks. He worked amazingly at the weekend under Tom. I won’t say where we are going and what we will be doing, but he will go to the big stage.
“Phil, myself and agent Bobby O’Ryan bought him at Doncaster Sales [for £70,000]. Phil was so keen to get the horse he named him the night before. He wasn’t going to let anyone else have him.”
Lightning Spear finally has his Group One in the Sussex Stakes
Just like 2017, when Here Comes When was successful, a seemingly fully exposed old-stager – Lightning Spear this time, showed the best ability, to land the Group One Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Eight horses went to post for the highlight of the meeting and at the break, it was Beat The Bank who led, with Expert Eye and Without Parole, but the pace was not strong and the latter raced keenly.
Under sufferance, Without Parole and Andrea Atzeni took the field along from Expert Eye and Beat The Bank.
Straightening up for home, Expert Eye moved wide to tackle the leader, who soon came under pressure. Beat The Bank joined in to form a line of three, with Gustav Klimt challenging to the outside. In behind, Oisin Murphy and Lightning Spear sat, poised to pounce.
Inside the final furlong, the gap came between Beat The Bank and Expert Eye – and Lightning Spear threaded his was through to join issue and go on.
At the line, Lightning Spear had 1 ½ lengths to spare over the rejuvenated Expert Eye, with Lord Glitters running on for third, just ahead of ahead of Gustav Klimt.
The David Simcock trained seven year-old, Lightning Spear, had come close to breaking his Group One duck when a narrow second to Rhododendron, in the Lockinge Stakes in May.
The Newmarket handler said: “I’m delighted with Lightning Spear. He looked good today, quickened well and travelled well – he did everything properly. Oisin has grown up with the horse, he is a very confident jockey and he was very patient waiting for the gap today. Sheikh Fahad loves this horse and he will be absolutely delighted. Unfortunately, he can’t be here today, but he’ll be made up.
“Lightning Spear has done very little wrong apart from win a Group One up until now. He is a lovely horse to train and a lot of work goes into him. He has placed in six Group Ones I think and has never really let us down, though he was little bit inconsistent last season. To win a Group One is not easy and you have to accept it.
“Lightning Spear is a wonderful horse and is very talented. To win a Group One is extra special. He was going really well and I thought if he got a gap he would win. They didn’t go much of a pace, but that did not really matter. You are trying something different all the time, trying to change something. To see him fill up and quicken up like that was great, and it is the horse we see at home an awful lot. It is just getting it all to click, with that little bit of luck that we haven’t had at times.
“Oisin had no instructions. Sit where you land and do your own thing. Oisin loves the horse and has confidence in the horse. We felt we were slightly robbed at Newbury, if anything, so this more than makes up for it. Oisin knows him very well and he can ride the horse as you like now.
“I am just really pleased for the horse. More pleased for the horse than anybody. It is great for Sheikh Fahad, the Qatar Racing team, the yard, but for the horse to get his G1roup One like that is great. It’s nice to win a Group One at Glorious Goodwood and any Group One victory is great. He has run just twice out of Group One company for me and won two Group Two events, so he has always had to run in Group Ones really.
“He has probably had his knockers, slightly unfairly I feel and so to win a Group One is great. Lightning Spear has come across some very good horses. This year, if we are being honest, there is probably not an outstanding horse in the mile division and so it has been his time. He wasn’t any better or any worse when he was running in these races even two years ago. Eventually, you will come across a year where things go your way and he just looked really good today. He had everything pan out perfectly for him today.
“I do as I’m told with this horse as Jenny [Simcock’s wife] rides him every day and she does a wonderful job with him. I don’t think Lightning Spear would be here today without her.
“He was quite headstrong and fiery when we got him and now he is just the nicest person and very straightforward to ride. Jenny is a special part of the whole thing. Jenny and my children are so fond of him and he is just a very special horse to have in the yard.”
Murphy said: “The pace was slow, but he relaxed, and I got a little bit of cover off James Doyle [on runner-up Expert Eye].
“I never ever get nervous before Group Ones – before the Derby and that I like making fun of the other jockeys – but I was nervous today and down at the start I was trying to hide it. I am over the moon – what a horse! And what a training performance. He deserves to win a major Group One and at seven years of age, it is outstanding.
“I always reflect on races and I possibly left a Group One behind me this season on this lad. I am lucky I have a good boss in Sheikh Fahad and a supportive trainer in David Simcock.
“I wanted to ride him as I did because he loves to travel behind heels. I was sure Expert Eye was going to fade away at some stage, bearing in mind this is a mile and his best form is over seven. I had a Group One winner on Benbatl on Sunday, but to get a second Group One for Sheikh Fahad [after Roaring Lion’s Group One Eclipse Stakes win] is unbelievable. This will mean a lot to Qatar Racing, Sheikh Fahad and his brothers.”
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Expert Eye, was delighted with his Acclamation colt’s run: “My fella just wanted a little more cover and to settle better, but he has run a blinder.”
Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner/breeder Khalid Abdullah, said: “He has come to win the race and has run genuinely. Second in a Group One – we will have a lot worse results than that this year. The way he has run is pleasing and there is something to build on.
“We will have to look at a variety of races, but I don’t see why not to keep him at a mile.
“He has run a very solid race and fair dues to the winner.”
James Doyle, who rode the three-year-old, said: “It was a horrible race to ride. We went no pace. I was doing a little bit too much on the outside with no cover.
“I am very pleased with him – he has run a super race. He has stuck his neck out all the way.
“I think the winner deserved to win a race like that. ”
Third placed Lord Glitters’ trainer, David O’Meara, said: “It was one of those messy races – he was a touch unlucky but he’s a fantastic horse and I do think if things drop right for him he’ll win one of these.”
Pilaster a hard-earned winner
Pilaster showed her toughness to land the Group Two Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood.
Twelve fillies and mares went to post for this 1 ¾ mile contest.
Flattering, racing wide, went on from God Given and Dance The Dream.
Settling down, the order remained the same, with Flattering setting the tempo and the field well strung out.
Racing uphill, God Given was switched to the outside by Ryan Moore, who joined Flattering, with Dance The Dream and Precious Ramotswe next.
God Given pressed on at the top of the racecourse and turned for home with a narrow advantage over Flattering.
The latter fought back, as Dance The Dream joined in.
In a wide-open race, at the furlong pole, Maid Up came from the outside to hit the front, chased by Pilaster, with God Given unable to give any more.
Pilaster fought hard to the inside and in a head-bobbing finish, just got up under David Egan; to deny Maid Up, with Star Rock running on strongly for third.
Winning trainer Roger Varian, said: He said: “Watching it live and watching again, I did not think Pilaster was loving the ground. I think she has overcome the ground. She is class and all guts – she got headed and came back to win on the line. She is a very classy filly. She was very good today. She showed a real toughness today as she was headed and came back.
“Hopefully, she comes out of this race well and then we would have to consider races like the Park Hill at Doncaster. I think Pilaster will really come into her own when she is racing on slower ground. She has been doing her racing on the All-Weather so far this year and and I think there is more to come.
“The ground today was in good condition, but I was glad when we got the rain. She is very enthusiastic in a sensible way and has a big will to win. She is not over exuberant. It’s great for the team at home. We’ve had a good year, but I felt we needed a big winner at one of the big meetings, so it’s great to get this one on the board. Hopefully, this will propel us onto the second half of the season. The form of Pilaster’s two All-Weather wins had worked out well and she looked quite classy at home.
“These classy animals are horses that you can’t rush and you have to take your time with them. She is a late maturing type who will only get better with what she showed today.” I thought David [Egan, jockey] was very good on her. David has always stood out. He is very young but is as classy as the filly is. He did not panic and held her together. I thought he gave her a beautiful ride. David is so balanced in the saddle and he has an old head on young shoulders. I’m delighted for him and for Cheveley Park who are big supporters. I’m glad this filly has won for them.”
Land Force comfortable in the Richmond Stakes
Land Force won a shade cosily in the Group Two Qatar Richmond Stakes.
A field of nine juveniles went to post for this six furlong race.
At the break it was Landforce who went on, with Cool Reflection and Konchek also prominent.
Cool Reflection held the overall lead but faded approaching the two furlong pole, where Landforce joined Konchek, while Marie’s Diamond looked a danger out wide.
Inside the final furlong, Landforce showed plenty of grit to head Konchek and then found a little extra for Ryan Moore, drawing slightly further away.
At the line, the Aidan O’Brien trained son of No Nay Never, was about a length clear of Marie’s Diamond, with Shine So Bright third.
Moore, who tasted victory earlier this week aboard Watan in the Nginious! Swiss Gin EBF Maiden and Medahim in the Goodwood Racehorse Owners Group Handicap, said: “Land Force is a very fast horse and got away well. To be honest, I was in the lead long enough. I was left there at the two, which is a bit too soon for him, but when I got stuck into him, he was very game and kept responding.
“He ran a very good race in the Norfolk. We felt six furlongs would suit him. He is a very fast horse with a marvellous attitude. He does not need to go any further than six.”
Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s UK representative, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. Land Force battled hard.
“Ryan was delighted with the performance. He got him into a nice position and he ran on well.
“I think six furlongs at the moment could be his favoured trip. It’s very exciting that he is by No Nay Never, who has got his first crop of two-year-olds this year and to have a G2 winner at a prestigious meeting at Goodwood is fantastic.
“The Prix Morny or the Phoenix Stakes could be under consideration, but we’ll wait till he is home before making any decision and Aidan speaks to the owners.”
Wild Illusion too good in the Nassau Stakes
Godolphin’s fine season continued with another Group One victory as Wild Illusion won the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
Just six fillies and mares lined-up for this 9 ½ furlong contest.
At the off, William Buick soon had Wild Illusion in front, tracked by Urban Fox and Rhododendron.
Wild Illusion, second in the Oaks and the Ribblesdale Stakes, led into the home straight and was still followed by Urban Fox, while Rhododendron came under pressure before the two furlong pole.
Up front, Wild Illusion was finding plenty for Buick and fought on tenaciously, as Veracious threatened to the inside rail.
The daughter of Dubawi enjoyed the final climb to the finish and extended her lead at the line, finishing two lengths clear of the gallant Urban Fox, with Veracious a close third.
Winning trainer Charlie Appleby said: “Wild Illusion has been rock solid all season and was fourth in a Guineas [at Newmarket], second in the Oaks [at Epsom] and second in the Ribblesdale Stakes [at Royal Ascot]. She was coming into the race as well as I have seen her all season, and I felt that dropping back in trip was going to be her forte. Full credit to all the team at home, and to Michel [Rakotoarisoa] who rides her every day at home and looks after her.
“After the Oaks, I was happy going into Ascot but the quicker ground was a concern. Will [Buick] said although the ground has dried up here in the last 24 hours there is a bit of moisture in there, and he said it is not as quick as Ascot.
“Dropping back in trip I felt was going to help and tactically we couldn’t see where the pace was going to come from, so I asked William to go out there and do what he is good at. He is great on the front end – we have seen that many times before – and he has given her a lovely tactical ride from the front. I told him to use her stamina from half a mile out to stretch her rivals, as we know she gets the mile and a half well and would have no problems at this trip.
“I am very fortunate to be in this position. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the royal family have supported me very well and have been very kind to me. It is only my job to try and put these winners on the board at this level. The two-year-olds have started coming to hand now and we need them to do well as we build for next year.”
Wild Illusion holds entries in the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks and the Group One Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, both races being run over 12 furlongs, but Appleby said no plan would be made at this stage. He said: “We’ll let the dust settle, and while she’s had a busy campaign she looks like she’s thriving – when fillies tell you that you map out a plan to suit.
“This has been a stellar season, there is no doubt about it, and everybody is enjoying it. This is where Godolphin should be and hopefully we can keep the momentum going. The racing public have been very good. Everyone talks about Godolphin and Coolmore. We are great sporting rivals and as a team we are happy to congratulate them and likewise they congratulate us. It is what we enjoy and it is hopefully what racing enjoys.”
Mirage Dancer well on top in Glorious run
Mirage Dancer came good with a smart performance in the Group Three Bombay Sapphire Glorious Stakes.
A field of seven older horses went to post for this race over just under 1 ½ miles.
At the break it was Eminent and Scotland who set the tempo, tracked by Mirage Dancer and Second Step.
Scotland forged ahead and moved three lengths clear of Eminent, who raced keenly, as the field began to climb.
Jim Crowley and Scotland still held a healthy advantage as they reached the top point and began to race downhill, with Eminent striding well in second and then Mirage Dancer and Red Verdon.
Eminent travelled up to Scotland inside the three, but Mirage Dancer and Ryan Moore had the move covered and went on with 1 ½ furlongs to race.
Mirage Dancer went on but Red Verdon gave chase – however, Mirage Dancer lengthened well for a comfortable victory, with Second Step third.
Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said: “It was a very pleasant race to watch, the good thing is Mirage Dancer settled really well. We had a good idea that he’d be at home here as he won at Goodwood earlier this year, but the race today went very smoothly.
“I think Ryan wanted to kick on earlier than he would have liked to as they were going a tad too slow for him, but the way he did it was nice and Mirage Dancer went on and ran well to the line. I think he is at last coming to the horse that we have hoped that he would make into.
“It is an interesting race all round if you look at the previous winners! The horse does fit a typical Sir Michael Stoute profile. I think we can raise our sights a little bit and it will be looking to see where the best opportunities are - races such as the Canadian International, the Northern Dancer Stakes all come into the spectrum. I don’t think we’d rule out the Melbourne Cup, but I think after today the handicapper might think a bit too harshly.
“We’ll have to speak to Michael – the horse was quite happy on the ground, and wouldn’t mind a bit of cut either. The main point is that he is furnishing and improving both mentally and physically. He has got a big enough frame to take him forward.
“We are very pleased – and it is another Group winner for Frankel, which always helps!”
On reflection, Grimthorpe added: “You always have to put Melbourne in the mix, but I don’t think it will be on the cards – we’ll have to see how it goes.”
Regal Reality cuts Goodwood rivals down to size
Inexperienced Regal Reality ruthlessly cut down his runaway rivals to land the Group Three Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes over a mile.
Half a dozen three year olds contested this race.
From the gates it was Threading who led, but dropped back to allow Chief Ironside and Ostilio to go on.
The latter was soon into the lead, racing keenly under Andrea Atzeni, but with a two length lead, with Chief Ironside then eight lengths ahead of the rest, as they turned for home.
Ostilio was challenged by Chief Ironside inside the two furlong pole, with Regal Reality beginning to close the gap.,
Up front, the leading two had a real set-too, but Regal Reality and Frankie Dettori continued to make stealthy progress and inevitably passed his rivals late on to win well.
Ostilio got the better of a titanic scrap for second, with Chief Ironside a gallant third.
Regal Reality, a son of Intello, was having just his third start. He was giving trainer Sir Michael Stoute a quick-fire double after Mirage Dancer’s first race success.
Chris Richardson, racing and stud manager for Cheveley Park Stud, said: “Today we were very much on a fact-finding mission. He is a lovely horse, and exciting prospect, we stand the stallion Intello and we took a commitment five years ago to have the horse brought to England [from France] for breeders. He is a stallion we have confidence in.
“This horse was very impressive at Yarmouth on his first start, and he got loose on the gallops after and just tweaked his neck, that’s why he had a little bit of break. All is fine now. He worked nicely the other day and he is a very exciting prospect - today was the day that we’d find out what he is. We will talk with Sir Michael, but it looks like he’d get a bit further.
“Cheveley Park is having a little bit of a purple patch, we’ve won four Group races in 12 days; it puts Cheveley Park back on the map!”
Regal Reality is a homebred out of the Group 2 winner Regal Realm, a grand-daughter of Cheveley Park’s Group 1 winner (of the farm’s own sponsored race at Newmarket) Regal Rose.
“Regal Realm won twice here – the Group Three Prestige Stakes and the Group Three Oak Tree Stakes, so maybe the family like Goodwood!,” laughed Richardson, who added that there was to be a little extra race day expense for the owners. “The horse struck out and caught the lad’s trousers as we were saddling – I did promise him that we’d replace his suit!”
Battaash lights up Goodwood
Battaash showed all of his old class to pulverise his rivals in the Group Two King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood.
Last season’s Prix de l’Abbaye winner faced ten rivals here over the minimum trip – and despatched them with as much verve as he had done his Chantilly rivals.
As the field left the stalls, Take Cover and Battaash were away well, with the former ploughing a lone furrow down the centre of the course, while Havana Grey showed good early speed.
Battaash was in front with three furlongs covered and he powered clear at the furlong pole in brilliant style.
Battaash was fully in his rhythm and his momentum pulled him further away in a final furlong procession, beating Take Cover by four lengths with a devastating run.
Muthmir came through late on for third place, but this race was all about Battaash.
The son of Dark Angel was an easy two and a quarter-length winner of the race last year and became the eighth horse in history to win the Group Two event on two occasions.
Lambourn handler Charlie Hills described the performance by Battaash, who had to carry a 3lb penalty for his Group One success in last year’s Prix De L’Abbaye, as “a career best” as he toyed with his rivals. He is set to return to Group One action next in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
The delighted trainer said: “Battaash broke well and got a nice lead to the first furlong, but he just wanted to go faster and Jim just had to let him go. He is an exceptional horse and I think that could well be a career-best. It was also the best he has behaved in the preliminaries. He has had plenty more racing now and I think he is learning with every run. That was pretty special – he is some horse. Jim always looked in control. It was not ideal that the race split a bit but he just a class above really. Today was probably a career-best by Battaash. He had to carry a penalty there but won so impressively – I’m delighted with him.
“He has been training a lot better at home and we have a lot to look forward to. Ground doesn’t matter to him. He has the most amazing action, is so light on his feet and is a real athlete. Battaash is the kindest horse to have at home and I just think things got to him at York in the Nunthorpe last year when he was fourth. Things didn’t go to plan at York last year, but this time around, we might saddle him in the stables and then bring him over, but I don’t think Battaash was right at York. I think something was on his mind and it all got on top of him.”
Regarding future targets, Hills revealed: “Battaash will probably have three more races this year, the Nunthorpe at York, then the Group One Derrinstown Flying Five Stakes [September 16th] at the Curragh and then back to France for the Prix De L’Abbaye again. There is good timing of three weeks between those three races, so the schedule will suit. I think if he went for the Everest it would stop him running in a lot of races here. America and the Breeders’ Cup is potentially something we might think about – travelling won’t be an issue.”
When asked if a Breeders’ Cup bid could be on the cards, Hills said: “It’s up to Sheikh Hamdan if he wants to run in America. We will just take every race as it comes at the moment. I don’t think the Everest will be on the agenda. Hopefully, Battaash will stay in training as a five-year-old.”
Hills also trained Muharrar, the 2015 European Champion Sprinter, with the trainer believing Battaash will also be a “champion.” He continued: “I think Battaash is going to be another champion and it’s difficult to compare two champions. I am just so pleased about the way he is behaving as well. He is more of a man, and the more racing he has had, the better. He is improving.
“I’ve never really been happy with Battaash at the start of the season as he even had a winter coat at Royal Ascot. His summer coat has just come through in the last few weeks. Racing does horses so much good. He has got confidence now with all the people that look after him. [His groom] Bob has done a fantastic job at home and they have a great relationship together. Michael Murphy, who rides him most mornings, and Louis have all done a great job.”
Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum said: “Battaash is a very fast horse. He was under shadow at Ascot. He was right today. I hope that he will keep sound and healthy.”
Asked about a possible campaign aimed at the Breeders’ Cup, Hamdan added: “In Europe, all the sprints are straight whereas in America, they have turns.
“Dayjur missed the break, then he came to the turn and pulled up. Then he came again to win his race and jumped the shadow.”
Jockey Jim Crowley was understandably delighted with the victory.
“He was a lot more relaxed than last year. I was a bit conscious not to let him wing out of the stalls like last time, I wanted to get a lead,” said the winning jockey. “Even Take Cover couldn’t lead him and when I saw the race developing over on the left side, I switched across.
“It worked out fine, he is equally adept on soft ground and on fast ground. This year I’ve noticed he is a bigger horse, he has filled out – last year he was quite narrow.”
Looking back at the defeat at Ascot, Crowley said: “Last time it didn’t work out, but Ascot is Ascot and I don’t think he was in the same form as today. He didn’t quite finish it out at Ascot – today he galloped out past the line.”
When asked of plans, Crowley reported: “The Nunthorpe would be perfect. Last year we got to the start too early and it blew his brain.”
Trainer David Griffiths was thrillied with the run of his veteran sprinter Take Cover, saying: “I’m delighted, the winner is seriously good, one of the best sprinters in Europe I would think. We’ve run an absolute cracker.
“I said to a few people who’d backed us he’s pretty much at his best. They wrote him off a little bit today which is fine by us.
“He was on his own a little bit, if he’d had a little bit more company… but the winner is seriously good. Four lengths he’s won by, but we’re best of the rest, so we’re delighted, chuffed to bits.
“Take Cover has still got his own sparkle. I think the quicker ground and this track – he just love it here, his stats here are amazing. He’s in the Nunthorpe and in the Flying Five on Champions weekend at the Curragh, so hopefully he’s back to his best and we can keep going. You would think this would be his last season, 11 is quite old isn’t it but we’ll discuss that at the end of the year.”
Andrew Hollis, Take Cover’s owner, added: “Take Cover is unbelievable at 11, he doesn’t owe me anything. He’s won at Goodwood twice been placed and even last year on soft ground he performed to finish fourth. He always tries so hard and obviously David Griffiths knows what he’s doing with him and he’s got him right for today, he’s run brilliant and he loves it here.
“He’s a smashing horse (Battaash) isn’t he. We’re happy with the second to him.”
Take Cover’s jockey Andrea Atzeni said: “That was a good run, the horse that beat us is obviously a very good horse. Take Cover loves it here and he’s run a blinder.”
William Haggas, trainer of the third Muthmir, said: “He ran great. I thought he would run a good race.
“It was very messy, they went all over the place. He did very well – the winner is a good horse. I think where we were drawn it was a particularly good effort.”
Dane O’Neil, the jockey, added: “Muthmir has run a solid race and we would have liked a bit more cover and something to take us into the race. Having said that, the winner is a machine and we never going to beat no matter what we did. He is an eight-year-old gelding and a credit to William and his team for having him in tip top form.”
Pretty Baby lands Oak Tree Stakes
Pretty Baby edged home in the Group Three L’Ormarins Queens Plate Oak Tree Stakes.
Sixteen fillies and mares went to post for this seven furlong race.
Ridden by Dane O’Neill, the three-year-old daughter of Orpen displayed a smart turn of foot in the closing stages to hold off the challenge of the fast-finishing Dancing Star by a neck.
It was also Haggas’ 50th winner at Goodwood and he said: “Dane O’Neill said the saddle went forward at the top of the bend. He rode a beautiful race on Pretty Baby, but it was not as smooth as he would have liked. It was her first time at seven furlongs and we always thought she might appreciate the step up in trip, so it was good.
“Eva Moscrop rides her every day at home and she used to ride professionally – she has been telling me for a while that the filly has been in great form. Pretty Baby hoofed someone in the pre-parade ring who got too close to her, but he was lucky.
“Pretty Baby is tough and that is her nature. She has always been feisty. Pretty Baby will go up in grade. She could go for the City of York or the Hungerford. We will campaign her boldly now over seven furlongs.”
Cross Counter eases to Gordon Stakes win
Cross Counter ran out a very easy winner of the Group Three Qatar Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.
A bitterly disappointing field of four lined-up for a race which was meant to be a final day highlight of Glorious Goodwood. This does not look a well-balanced final day and we feel Goodwood made an error in changing the order. The Nassau Stakes would have been better placed on the Saturday, as it used to be – and as a joint feature with the Steward’s Cup, giving a Group One race a wider live audience. Sometimes it is better not to tamper for tamper’s sake. Racecourses and marketers please listen.
As this 1 ½ mile contest got underway, it was the Derby runner-up, Dee Ex Bee, who led, but Bombyx soon went on from Cross Counter, with the quartet bunched.
Cross Counter in the Godolphin silks, pressed on, with Dee Ex Bee a close second, while Bombyx and Sun Maiden raced together.
At the top bend, Cross Counter was joined by Dee Ex Bee, with little between them as they raced to the two furlong pole.
Cross Counter found more, but Dee Ex Bee hit a flat spot under pressure, while Bombyx was short of room.
However, Cross Counter kept on and reached the furlong pole with an increased advantage – and the further he went, the further he and William Buick drew clear, for a hugely impressive win, with his rivals strung out and coming home in intervals.
A respectful distance back in second was Dee Ex Bee, while Bombyx failed to build on his threat early in the straight, finishing well back in third.
The irrepressible Gifted Master lands the Stewards’ Cup
Gifted Master, the horse who came back from serious illness, showed all his fighting qualities to get up in the dying strides and win the Unibet Stewards’ Cup Handicap, the final big race of the week at Glorious Goodwood.
A field of 26 sprinters lined-up for this six-furlong cavalry charge, with the classy Gifted Master, heading the weights.
At the off, Watchable was up with the pace on the stand’s side, with Gifted Master also prominent.
Settling down, Gifted Master held the overall lead down the stands side, with Barrington and Watchable up there and Muscika, while Eirene was pulled up.
Gifted Master was headed at the two furlong pole with Justanotherbottle going on and looking to have built an unassailable advantage.
However, Gifted Master, who had been very ill last year when returning from Dubai, battled back tenaciously under Jason Watson – and got his head back up in the shadow of the post. Growl took third, with Solar Flair in fourth.
The Hugo Palmer trained runner, has spent much of his life contesting Group races, but made a winning debut in handicap company, when landing a valuable contest at Newmarket’s Guineas Meeting.
Palmer said: “It was a hell of a performance and he is unbeaten in handicaps now. When you consider he was our first two year old winner of the year aged two. He won at the Craven Meeting in April and he finished his two year old season rated 112. He has basically been rated at that at two, at three, at four and now at five – and just won a Stewards’ Cup off top weight.
“Huge word has to go to the jockey as well. He gravitated towards the middle of the track to where we thought the nicest ground was and wasn’t remotely flustered when he got headed. He was strong, he was cool, he was calm.”
The trainer indicated afterwards that a step up to Group One level might not be in the pipeline, with the Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket, a possibility:
“He’s just a solid 110 – 112 horse.
“He has been a massive part. He has been there for so long and has won an enormous amount of prize money. He is a winner over five (furlongs) and a mile and everywhere in between. He’s been very special for us.”
Johnston and Moore on top
The result of the Qatar Handicap, race six on the final day of the 2018 Qatar Goodwood Festival, proved to be decisive in the Leading Trainer Award battle.
The winner, Lake Volta, gave trainer Mark Johnston his fourth winner of the week, equalling William Haggas’ total.
However, Johnston has also had five horses finish second over the five days compared to Haggas’s one and this put the Yorkshire-based handler at the top of the trainers’ list. It is the 12th time that Johnston has won the Qatar Goodwood Festival trainers’ title and his third victory in succession.
He said: “It’s great. We come here every year – I kept telling Charlie (son and assistant) all last week, just like Royal Ascot, you’ve got to take the horse where it has got the best chance – you can’t save it for Goodwood.
“We’ve come with a strong team so it’s great to come out on top again. It has been a little frustrating over the last two days – we’ve had a few second places – so it’s great to get this win. It is a big team effort.”
Ryan Moore, the Racing UK Top Jockey with five winners ahead of runner-up Silvestre de Sousa on four, has donated his £1,000 prize to the Stevie Fisher Trust.
It is Moore’s third Qatar Goodwood Festival title in a row and his fifth in total.