This past week has gone by in a flash, but it has left so many lasting impressions. Many stars shone throughout the Goodwood festival after 4 days of great racing leads to this final hurrah. Today’s card at Goodwood features some top class handicaps with massive fields and lots of value from a wagering perspective, as well as a superstar or two looking to continue their strong seasons. The headline runner comes in the GII Lillie Langtry Stakes, where multiple group one winner and recent Royal Ascot heroine Wonderful Tonight returns after ground conditions forced her out of the GI King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. She should be a heavy favorite, but perhaps a vulnerable one as well.
The action doesn’t stop there as we make a trip over to the July Course at Newmarket for the listed Chalice Stakes for the fillies and mares. A competitive contest that sees many runners dropping out of some of the european classics to contest this mile and a half contest. And lastly if you’re looking for some action on sunday morning, head over to Germany for the fillies classic, the GI Preis Der Diana from Dusseldorf. Goodwood may be coming to an end but the international racing season is just getting started.
Race 2 – Unibet Stewards’ Sprint Handicap – 6 Furlongs, 3 & Up
11 – Power Over Me – Made a strong impression first up this prep on the turf following two strong performances over the all-weather at Wolverhampton in March. Kieran Shoemark jumped aboard last time out and despite winning the race convincingly was disqualified due to a mistake in the horses weight based on prior form in the US. A wild story shadowing the fact that this galloper has a lot of ability, even without the purse money to go with it. Handled a bit of give in the ground last time and should have no trouble today.
6 – Bickerstaffe – An improving 3 year old who makes the step back up into class 2 company after dropping back to class 3 last time out. Had not performed overly well in his early bids following the step up in class but regained his form and will now take another shot at it. Gets regular jockey Clifford Lee back in the saddle, he rode him to victory earlier this season but was not on him in his last start at Ascot.
18 – Concierge – Surrounded by good form on a wet track and has put his best foot forward in class 2 company this preparation. Following a narrow victory at Newbury, trainer Michael Attwater gave this galloper a slight class drop and he put together a few lackluster performances in doing so. The ground is what I believe gives him his best chance to turn around the form from his last few starts and he has run a sneaky good race at Goodwood earlier this season.
Race 3 – Summer Handicap – 1 3/4 Miles, 3 & Up
8 – Future Investment – Looking to continue on a trend that worked well during yesterday’s meeting of horses going long who are shortening up in distance. In this scenario, Future Investment did just that last time out and missed narrowly at Ascot. Had raced upwards of 2 3/8 Miles on debut this season and has continued to shorten up since. I think now staying at this distance will be right where he wants to be and jockey Danny Tudhope gets back aboard after giving him a cracking ride over yielding ground at Royal Ascot.
7 – Urban Artist – Has been a model of consistency as he has gotten older and is taking a class drop for this event. Raced a solid second in the GIII Bronte Cup Fillies’ Stakes at York two back and seemed to be a bit better at the 1 3/4 Miles despite a decent enough effort last time out at Pontefract. Normally I enjoy horses shortening up for that trip but in the case of Urban Artist, it did not seem to suit him. I think they are making the correct call in moving him back up in trip and it should pay off in a big performance.
9 – Nuits St Georges – After starting the season with a non-effort at Ascot, this runner was moved up in class by trainer David Menuisier to contest today’s distance and it worked wonders for him. A winner of back to back in handicap company including an easy victory at Salisbury last time out, Nuits St Georges looks to continue his upward trend at a distance and at a class level that he belongs.
Race 4 – GII Lillie Langtry Stakes – 1 3/4 Miles, 3 & Up Fillies & Mares
6 – Makawee – Will need to get back in form today after a lackluster start to the season. She has the talent to be able to run with these and most importantly has shown by far her best efforts over the course at Goodwood. It is a special course that some horses really take to and she is one of them. Just missed first up this season in listed company behind Alpinista and showed she still needed the run at that time. Obviously she has not moved as forward as you would hope in this spot but is still a major player at her favorite venue.
4 – Cabaletta – Has put together several solid efforts this season over similar ground to what we will see at Goodwood. Has trouble finding the winner’s enclosure but is always putting together big efforts, including a strong run in this race just last year. Was best of the rest at Goodwood in the GIII March Stakes last season but was absolutely demolished by top stayer Subjectivist. Without prior form, I would be a bit bewildered by the move up in distance after the recent efforts, however because it fits this horse’s prep I am willing to take a swing at a massive price on a very consistent horse.
1 – Wonderful Tonight – She is much deserving of being the favorite, however I think she is just a bit too short of a favorite for my liking. Withdrawn from the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot due to the ground conditions and should get a little closer to what she wants in this renewal. A horse that has proven group one form and established herself in a big way first up in the GII Hardwicke at Royal Ascot. Many expect her to dominate this field given the class drop, I personally am not so sure about that. Willing to take a shot against her based on the value surrounding the other contenders.
Race 5 – Steward’s Cup – 6 Furlongs, 3 & Up
13 – Hurricane Ivor – Controversy surrounds this runner after his two back effort at Sandown on Coral Eclipse day. He rallied strong up the rail late and got his nose down on the line and after being declared the loser of the photo, was then switched to a dead heat after it was found that the mirror at the line was misaligned and despite views that Hurricane Ivor may have won that race, they could only use the original photo which resulted in a dead heat. Despite all of that, this horse came back quick off of that effort and ran a bang up race at Ascot, this time with a photo giving a nose win to his opposition. He is running well this prep and I have little doubt this could be the day he turns in that performance that gives him his first solo victory since moving over from France.
2 – Summerghand – He has been one of my favorite handicap horses over the past year and although his form in lower level group races was looking strong, he went a bit in over his head in the last two starts. Has been beaten pretty handily in the GI Diamond Jubilee and the GI July Cup, now drops back into a heritage handicap (albeit a high class handicap), and should enjoy a bit of class relief. Summerghand has been a tough horse throughout his career and was absolutely deserving of a shot with the big boys, however now it’s time to get back on form and face a field has the ability to beat.
21 – Great Ambassador – Seems to be improving since making the drop back in distance from a mile and handled being back on the turf. Ended last prep and began this one on the all-weather and performed well. Was just beaten last time out by two decent handicap runners in the form of Chil Chil and Lord Rapscallion. First time up for the most in form jockey in the game in William Buick.
Race 4 – Chalice Stakes – 1 1/2 Miles, 3 & Up Fillies and Mares
8 – Save A Forest – This daughter of Kingman raced very well two back over this distance on the turf at Lingfield and earned her place in the GI Epsom Oaks. Finished a strong 4th that day behind a winner that no one was catching in Snowfall. Takes a big drop in class for this race but stays at the distance. I will be genuinely surprised if she doesn’t end up the favorite but should not be that heavy of a favorite with several other class droppers in this field.
3 – Sherbet Lemon – Came out of that same Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes as Save A Forest, narrowly beating her in the running. Since that day, Archie Watson decided it was time to step up in class and she was dreadful. The step up to the Epsom Oaks was way too much and then she disappointed when sent to Ireland and was last in the GIII Stanerra Stakes. She has shown promise in the past and she now cuts back slightly in distance for this start. Still young in her career but I think this spot may be the right one to get her form back on track.
5 – Invite – Makes the trip back from Italy after contesting the GII Premio Oaks d’Italia and was a bit keen and had no luck in the running. Today will be the first start under the care of Andrew Balding and the first ride for in-form jockey David Probert. This young filly has some ability but the travel over and the step up in class may have been a bit too much too soon for her. Getting into listed company and back on UK soil brings the expectations of a much improved run.
Sunday – Dusseldorf
10:30am EST – GI Preis Der Diana – 1 3/8 Miles, 3 Year Old Fillies
5 – Isfahani – Never easy for a horse to debut in group company but that’s what trainer Henk Grewe did with this runner and it paid dividends. That win came over a 1 1/8 Mile trip at Campanelle in Italy and after an extended layoff she is starting to work through her prep. The last two runs have the look of a horse who has needed a few starts and there is little doubt that as this filly matures she will relish any extended distance she sees. She’s by a German Derby winner out of a mare by another strong stallion and stayer in Manduro. Will be a nice price and is good play at an upset chance in this german classic.
2 – Amazing Grace – A big fan of her prep for this race after winning the GII Diana Trial and taking the early step up in distance at Hamburg next out. It was a strong rendition of the GIII Mehl-Mulhens Rennen and french jockey Theo Bachelot, who ships in to ride her on Sunday also came in for the prep race last time and ran a decent second. I am not sure how much separation there is between her and her rival from the Diana Trial in Noble Heidi. If back at the same distance I would give the nod to the latter, but with the rise in trip it will suit Amazing Grace better for this spot. I don’t think she’s an unbeatable favorite and will be a short price so there is some value to play against.
3 – Noble Heidi – Made the trip over to France last time out and was never a factor. It was a tough step up for a horse who has competed well in Germany throughout her young career and getting back to her home country will do a world of good. This will be a prime opportunity for her to reverse the form of her 2nd place finish to Amazing Grace in the GII Diana Trial at Hoppegarten. Not sure based on the distance that she can do that, but on her best day she is as good as anyone in the field.