Goodwood hosts five of the most prestigious days of British racing in the calendar at its picturesque track situated on the South Downs in West Sussex. The track welcomed back racegoers for the first time since 2019 and the electric atmosphere quickly returned, with big crowds reported across the whole week despite the disappointing weather. The meeting began under something of a cloud quite literally, with a terrible forecast in prospect and the arrival of unseasonal and torrential rain. This transformed the ground from good to firm the week prior to the meeting to heavy – soft in places, on the first day. Despite the forecast, the weather didn’t dampen the spirits and audiences were treated to some mouth-watering racing.
The highlights from the festival include:
- Notable Absentees
- Heavy ground on Tuesday
- ‘Migration’ looks a Group horse in the making
- Dettori pounced on ‘Angel Bleu’
- Gold Cup Glory for ‘Trueshan’ as Hollie Doyle notches a treble
- ‘Alcohol Free’ wins the Sussex for Andrew Balding
- The effect of the draw on the round course
- ‘Assymetric’ completes a brilliant week for Alang King
- ‘Battaash’ retires with a defeat behind the impressive Sueasa
- ‘Baeed’ looks like the next superstar of the sport
The meeting began with the news that sadly some of the best horses would be missing from the 5-day festival. ‘Palace Pier’, who had been a very short-priced favourite for the Qatar Sussex Stakes, was taken out by John Gosden with a reported bad blood count. ‘Subjectivist’ who was going to be aimed at The Gold Cup on Tuesday (pitched against ‘Stradivarius’) was ruled out with a tendon injury a few weeks earlier and is now out all season, while his old rival was pulled out on the day due to the very soft ground. While this was disappointing, it just shows how fragile these top horses are and there was still plenty of fantastic racing to savour throughout the week.
Heavy ground on Tuesday
Goodwood is well-known for providing surfaces that are ridden a lot softer than the official going, with the former Clerk of the Course having something of a reputation for overwatering. This year they were still watering on the Thursday before, and unfortunately heavy rain over the weekend and on Monday turned conditions really testing. There were twenty-nine non-runners on the first day rendering some of the early morning betting meaningless, something that is far from ideal for punters, bookmakers, or trainers.
‘Migration’ looks a Group horse in the making
David Menuisier has had a brilliant season so far with some lovely young horses progressing well up the ranks, and he is very much a trainer for Beth.bet subscribers to keep on side of. This unexposed and lightly raced handicapper had shaped really well when heavily backed on his return from a long absence at Salisbury, and duly landed a wholesale gamble down to 2/1 favourite in the opening handicap of the meeting. He looks a listed or group performer in the making and is very much one to follow up the grades throughout the rest of the turf season.
Dettori pounced on ‘Angel Bleu’
The Group 2 Vintage Stakes went to Ralph Beckett’s ‘Angel Bleu’, produced late under a very well-judged ride from the veteran 50-y-o Frankie Dettori. This one has been kept busy, running only last Saturday, but proved he can cope with a quick turnaround by showing a real turn of foot to come clear from the strong finishing second ‘Berkshire Shadow’. The well backed runner-up was given a rather negative ride by Oisin Murphy and looks one to follow despite losing his unbeaten record. He could be a live outsider for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket next spring, with a mile likely to be well within his compass as he strengthens up.
Gold Cup Glory for ‘Trueshan’ as Hollie Doyle notches a treble
Alan King is better known as a jump’s trainer, but he does very well with a few runners on the flat each season and notched up his first Group 1 at Goodwood with ‘Trueshan’ in the Gold Cup. This thorough stayer revels in soft ground and was given a typically brilliant ride by Hollie Doyle, quickening clear at the furlong pole to land hefty market support down to 11/10 favourite (with Stradivarius pulled out of the race at lunchtime due to the heavy ground). This developed into a terrific day for the young jockey, with two more wins later on the card highlighting her brilliant judgement of pace and strength in the saddle.
‘Alcohol Free’ wins the Sussex for Andrew Balding
The most valuable and most prestigious Group 1 race of the entire week went to Andrew Balding’s progressive three-year-old ‘Alcohol Free’. This was an incredible performance considering how hard she pulled parked out wide in the early stages, somehow sustaining her run under Oisin Murphy to pick-off the uneasy favourite ‘Poetic Flare’. Clearly soft ground suits her ideally, and ‘Alcohol Free’ remains open to lots more improvement once settling down properly in the early stages. Another feature of this fantastic race was the ride that ‘Snow Lantern’ received from Jamie Spencer (replacing the banned Sean Levey), typically dropping right out, and losing quite a good position turning for home before running on strongly late to take a never dangerous third. She seems sure to be one to follow this autumn, particularly when given a more conventional ride by her usual partner.
The effect of the draw on the round course
Once again at Goodwood, low numbers were the place to be – particularly in the big-field handicaps on the round course. Time and time again those drawn high didn’t manage to get an early position and were soon out the back struggling not landing a blow. This is always something for Beth.bet punters to bear in mind when considering a wager at this undulating racecourse. A frontrunning ride from a low draw is a huge advantage whatever the prevailing ground conditions.
‘Assymetric’ completes a brilliant week for Alan King
Trainer Alan King has a very smart juvenile on his hands in ‘Asymmetric’, who ran out a very impressive Group 2 Richmond Stakes on Thursday. This was a very slow run race and ‘Asymmetric’ did well to extract herself from a poor position, quickening really smartly to narrowly land the spoils and hefty cash in the process under Martin Harley. She is reportedly going to be aimed at the Group 1 Pre Morny in France and would be a love contender for that valuable prize with soft ground clearly no issue at all.
‘Battaash’ retires with a defeat behind the impressive Suesa
The prolific ‘Battaash’ proved a disappointment in the King George Qatar Stakes on Friday, again over-racing under a patient ride and weakening rather tamely for pressure at the furlong pole. Connections feel he is past his best and is likely now to be retired, ending a fantastic career on something of a low ebb. This valuable Group 2 was won in fantastic style by the French raider ‘Suesa’, who relished a fast pace at 5f and sprinted clear late under a motionless William Buick. She has now won 5 of her 6 career starts, and really does look like the star of this division.
‘Baeed’ looks like the next superstar of the sport
Racing fans are always looking for the next ‘Frankel’, and they might just have found it in William Haggas’s strapping 3-y-o. He has now won all four of his career starts, and barely came off the bridle to storm home alone in the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes on Friday. This may not have been much of a race, but the devastating manner of the victory was something very special, and he seems sure to be upped to Group 1 company next time out. He is very much a colt for Beth.bet subscribers to keep on side of wherever he runs next.