The Betfred Mile at Goodwood is traditionally highly competitive, but this year’s renewal appears to revolve around one horse, the 7/2 favourite Franklin D (3.10pm Friday, live on Channel 4 TV).
Trainer Michael Bell’s (pictured) four-year-old had been knocking on the door prior to his six-length win at Newmarket 13 days ago, but he waltzed clear of Hors De Combat (25/1) and twelve others, including Solar Deity (66/1), in the style of a rapidly improving horse and looks extraordinarily well treated under a 3lb penalty. Perhaps that was a preview what is to come here. A mile on fast ground is clearly very much to his liking and, while he has yet to race at Goodwood, he looks a worthy favourite and comes into calculations.
Of course, there are plenty of each-way alternatives among his 21 rivals, not least Donncha (10/1), who finished sixth in this race last year off a 4lb lower mark and has run creditably in defeat on all four starts this season. His best form this season has come on soft ground, but he is equally effective on a sound surface. He is definitely one to consider, even though he remains 8lb higher in the weights than when last winning.
Last year’s 2,000 Guineas fifth, Celestial Path (11/1), was only beaten a neck on his return to handicap company at York earlier this month and, off the same mark, is weighted to make his presence felt. However, he is drawn 17 of the 22 runners, so may struggle to confirm the York form with One Word More (14/1), who is no better off for the half a length he finished behind Celestial Path, but is better drawn in stall six on this occasion.
Third Time Lucky (16/1) had Franklin D 5¼ lengths behind in twelfth place when winning the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket last September, so would definitely be of interest if anywhere near his best.
Richard Fahey’s four-year-old pulled hard when only eleventh of 19, beaten 5¾ lengths, behind Always Smile on his seasonal reappearance at York in May and, although absent since, looks far from impossibly handicapped.
Master The World (14/1) finished second in the Cambridgeshire off a 5lb lower mark and third in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot off today’s revised mark last autumn. While he is yet to trouble the judge in two starts this season, he remains one to consider.
On the downside, all three of his career wins, including one over 1 mile 2 furlongs, have come on galloping tracks, so it is debatable whether a fairly sharp mile really plays to his strengths. He might just be a little too high in the weights to be seriously considered for win purposes.
Whichever way you look at it, Franklin D is 10lb ‘well in’ under his 3lb penalty so, barring accidents, must be the one to beat. Nevertheless THIRD TIME LUCKY may prove the one to beat him.
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