Wednesday (08/02/2017) Horse Racing Preview

After some notable successes yesterday we look to land the cash again during what is a fantastic festival week.  There is still more yet with tips for the Nassau Stakes and the King George Stakes to come, but for now here are the highlights from Day Two at Goodwood including ratings for the pattern races, as well as the main contenders for the Galway Plate:

1.50 Goodwood – 2m4f Handicap

A standing dish in these events but he’s been better.  May have a little to find this time.

Star Rider
Improved plenty for this trip at Ascot last time and can only get better.  The sounder surface may also help here and a big run is surely on the cards.

Favourite for all three races since joining Keith Dalgleish, winning two of them.  Might have been overcooked when finishing fourth last time and will strip fitter here, every chance.

Easy winner of a maiden hurdle last time but hasn’t run on the flat for two years, at least on turf.

Aurora Gray
Only a four-year-old and improving for the step up to these distances.  Has form with Frederic but perhaps not the potential of that one.

Two from two since being gelded, still very lightly raced and definitely improving for stepping up in trip.  Gets in at the bottom end of the weights and has every chance.

The vast improver HAWKERLAND may complete the hat-trick here and give a deserved big race success to trainer Marcus Tregoning.  Frederic and Star Rider have outstanding place chances too and must be watched in the betting.


2.25 Goodwood – 1m4f 3yo Handicap

Godolphin’s apparent third string, fourth in a Derby trial in the spring and remained highly tried the next twice.  He has cheeckpieces now to sharpen him up and may put in an improved performance.

Wolf Country
Fourth choice of the Boys in Blue and very well bred.  Won a Listed race over in France back in May before finishing under five lengths behind Permian in the Dante, big chance.

Sofia’s Rock
A good third to Raheen House last time and if there’s more improvement to come then he’s got a bit in hand at the weights here.  Mark Johnston loves this place and with Ryan Moore booked a big run is expected.

On To Victory
Rocketed home in the Bibury Cup but is now 10lbs higher and may have been slightly flattered there.

First Nation
Godolphin’s first choice here and a very well bred sort.  Second to ‘teammate’ Atty Persse at Royal Ascot and still getting better but may just be in the handicapper’s grip.

Secret Advisor
Yet another Godolphin contender and another by Dubawi, this time out of a Galileo mare and ran an excellent third to Goodwood Cup and St Leger hope Stradivarius at Royal Ascot.  Carries the second colours but is the choice of William Buick and it’s easy to see why.

Disappointed slightly last time at Ayr but otherwise on the upgrade.  The combination of Mark Johnston and Silvestre De Sousa is a rock solid one and he must go well.

Godolphin and Mark Johnston each have a strong hand here and they may fight out the finish with Sofia’s Rock and SECRET ADVISOR.  I think the form of the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot has been underestimated, something not lost on William Buick, and his choice may come home in front.  Hochfeld and Wolf Country are the pick of the others.


3.00 Goodwood – Molecomb Stakes, 5f 2yo Group 3

Battle Of Jericho
Another canny mix of breeding at Coolmoore (by War Front out of a Galileo mare) means it’s hard to second guess what his best trip will be.  He won easily over six last time though and steps down in trip here, something that should be within his compass.

Havana Grey
A real speedster who has now won two Listed races and may have more to give.

Invincible Army
Has been running over six and was an excellent fourth in the Group 2 July Stakes at HQ, however he has a proper sprinting profile and so at this stage of his career I can’t help thinking five furlongs is far enough and so an improved run could be on the cards.

Sound And Silence
A Listed winner at Royal Ascot but disappointed next time, on that run and on a line through Roussel may actually be behind a couple of these.

To Wafij
Close up behind Havana Grey when waited with in a race where the winner made all.  If allowed closer to the pace that gap may close given the sharp upward curve this one is on.

Happy Like A Fool
Was beaten fair and square by Heartache at Royal Ascot but will have come on plenty for that you’d feel.  Heartache disappointed in France next time but had excuses though this one for me needs to improve more than the betting would suggest.

110 Invincible Army
Havana Grey
To Wafij
Sound And Silence
Happy Like A Fool
Battle Of Jericho

James Tate’s INVINCIBLE ARMY is probably underestimated and will love this trip today.  He has very strong form, perhaps better than the Royal Ascot form in fact and is taken to score ahead of Havana Grey.


3.35 Goodwood – Sussex Stakes, 1m Group 1

Lightning Spear
Unfortunately seems to have regressed since a third to Minding last backend and a second to Ribchester this season in the Lockinge.  Conditions are fine so there are no excuses here but even his best form would not be good enough to win this.

The class horse in the race, given that he’s rated a couple of pounds above Churchill and he’s ultra consistent, and there are no apparent reasons why he should not run his race once again.  Since running third in this last year he has run to the same rating in Europe, within a couple of pounds anyway, and that is tremendous for backers.

The downside is that we seem to have seen his ceiling now and his mark of 125 sets him out as a proper Group One horse, but not one that is unbeatable.

The French raider adds a bit of spice to the contest and aims to ensure that this isn’t a ‘duel’ at all.  Although generally progressive, his best run was actually three outings ago in the Prix Jean Prat last July so he has a little bit to prove.

This much stronger pace a better quality of race will bring the very best out of him and he is not one to underestimate here.  The expected progression, a form line through Stormy Antarctic and the presence of Frankie Dettori put him mightily close to Ribchester for me.

Given his trouble in running and what he did subsequently in both the St James’s Palace and the Eclipse, it seems Barney Roy may be the better of the two three-year-old’s ahead of Churchill and yet he may still do the classic generation proud here.

His scintillating win in the Irish 2000 Guineas is still fresh in the memory and the argument often still rages about how fair or otherwise the weight-for-age is at this time of year.  On basic ratings, he’s knocking right on Ribchester’s door and when you consider he may have more to give then he must have an outstanding chance.

Before the disappointment of Royal Ascot, this one was on the upgrade and it’s not for us to decide that improvement has finished.  Other O’Brien three-year-olds to have come here, such as Rip Van Winkle and The Gurkha have peaked at this point and that is very encouraging indeed.

Lancaster Bomber
Ran his best race when chasing home Barney Roy and finishing ahead of Churchill at Ascot but will find it hard to get best the principals this time.

128 Churchill
125 Ribchester
122 Lancaster Bomber
Lightning Spear

The three-year-olds have an excellent record and another ‘Duel on the Downs’ here may actually turn into a three-way battle, Zelzal and Ribchester looking closer than the betting would suggest and the younger horse CHURCHILL possibly still being the best of the bunch.

Aiden O’Brien is sporting, sure, but also comes here full of confidence and I don’t think second place is quite what he has in mind.  Off a strong pace I think we’ll see the dual Guineas winner cruise into the contest and sweep by.


4.45 Goodwood – 1m2f Fillies’ Handicap

Seems to have been running at everything but this trip and it’s one that on breeding should be ideal for her.  On her form with Abingdon and The Black Princess last season she’d look very well handicapped here, though she needs to improve on her two efforts so far this season.

A very good comeback win in May was another career high, though I don’t know why she spends so much time off the track.  Given her record when fresh though another step forward can be expected here.

Indian Blessing
Ed Walker’s Sepoy filly has appreciated the rain softened ground and should like it around here.  She’s been doing her improving while not winning though and so it’s uncertain that she has a lot in hand.

Titi Makfi
Nicely bred for a race of this nature and in the right hands.  She won four in a row at the start of this season and was keeping good company in a close defeat last time too.  More to come from her.

Sir Michael likes to bring them on slower than most and so that often means bigger chunks of improvement from his fillies.  A nice early season handicap win at York meant they saw her as Listed class and so she may have been underestimated by the handicapper here, which is always a good thing.

Billesdon Bess
Five of her six runs have been at Salisbury and with not all successful it’s hard to say she can definitely mix it here.  Place chances though.

White Chocolate
A course and distance winner here and one who has been keeping good company generally.  She has improved on every run so far in her career and so there is no reason we can’t expect the same again.

La Casa Tarifa
Doing well in early season races before spending some time off the track.  She’ll be fresh, and if ready to go looks to be a few pounds ahead of the assessor but even that may not be enough today.

A few of these are close with little to separate them, however given her more positive draw EBBESBOURNE is taken to resume winning ways under Jim Crowley.  White Chocolate could be best of the rest with Skiffle also interested for place reasons.


5.35 Galway – Galway Plate, 2m6½f Handicap Chase

A very consistent and admirable type, though others may be better off at the weights.

Road To Riches
Hasn’t raced much in the last few months and seems generally regressive.

Sandymount Duke
Jessie Harrington has this one in tip-top form and with a lifetime best expected, what a chance he must have.  He’s won four of his seven chases and sharpened up by winning on the flat last time out, though he’s not been given the best chance by the handicapper.

Ruby Walsh’s mount has been running over hurdles but is an even better chaser for me.  He seems well prepared for this and could run an improved race.

Balko Des Flos
Only run over six chases to this point and his improvement has been steady but not huge.

A young chasing mare who is only getting better.  Off the track since April and will be seen to even better effect now.

Ran over hurdles last time to get him ready for this, will strip fitter but not reach the principals.

On Fiddlers Green
Henry De Bromhead’s gelding stays further than this now but as a C&D winner must come with a serious chance.  He’s in the form of his life right now and must go well.

Always a hard race to call, but one in which a chance can be taken on ON FIDDLERS GREEN at a nice price.  A host of runners look close for the places, including Balko Des Flos and Shaneshill.