Many punters enjoyed more than the sunshine on the first day of Glorious Goodwood 2016. The opening handicap was won by Mark Johnston’s 8/1 co favourite, Fire Fighting but Stars Over The Sea and Second Wave were equally fancied.
Both the Group 2 level contests were won by favourites too. In the Vintage Stakes for two-year-olds Ballydoyle’s War Decree started at 6/4 even though he had been beaten by Godolphin’s Boynton (2/1) last time at Newmarket. That was off level weights and Boyton had a 3lb penalty to shoulder for that win.
The punters called it correctly and War Decree won by nearly two lengths under Ryan Moore. His cause was helped by being drawn in stall one. It was not Boynton (who was drawn wide) but another Godolphin colt that finished second. The Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow (13/2) was runner-up under James McDonald from stall two with Boynton finishing a length behind him in third.
In the Lennox Stakes over the same distance of seven furlongs for three-year-olds and older horses there was another closely contested betting market. It was led by two Godolphin horses, Home Of The Brave trained by Hugo Palmer and Charlie Hills’ Dutch Connection. They were joint favourites for some time but Dutch Connection was ultimately sent off the 9/4 favourite, closely pursued by Home Of The Brave at 5/2. They finished in that order with the third favourite, Palmer’s Gifted Master (13/2) behind them.
Unfortunately both of Palmer’s runners liked to lead and they were always going to be vulnerable to a more amenable type. James McDonald, partnering Dutch Connection in William Buick’s enforced absence, was able to keep his mount relaxed in the midfield and pounce on the pair when it mattered.
The only winner at a double figure price was Mick Channon’s Elidor, the 16/1 winner of the Summer Stakes handicap run over a mile and six furlongs under Silvestre De Sousa (pictured). Godolphin’s 13/2 favourite A Soldier’s Life failed to fire but his stablemate, Qewy (8/1) was runner-up under McDonald.
The feature race of the entire meeting was the Group 1 Sussex Stakes on Wednesday. It brought together the best milers of all ages but the three Guineas winners looked to be well ahead of their elders as they faced each other on decent ground for the first time. Galileo Gold (9/4) had beaten the French Guineas winner, Ballydoyle’s The Gurkha (11/8) and the Irish victor, Awtaad (13/2) in the St James’s Palace at muddy Royal Ascot but Frankie Dettori’s positive tactics were a major factor.
The fourth three-year-old in the line-up, Ribchester (8/1), was considered by his trainer Richard Fahey to be a much stronger horse than when he finished third to Galileo Gold at Newmarket.
There was no pacemaker so Dettori tried to win from the front but this time Ryan Moore tracked him closely on The Gurkha. Chris Hayes had Awtaad very handy too. There was a moment of panic for the followers of the favourite when Moore was trapped on the rail but as soon as a gap appeared The Gurkha was able to make use of it, taking the lead and beating Galileo Gold a neck. Awtaad had weakened inside the final furlong but Ribchester chased the leading pair and closed on them dramatically, finishing third and only beaten a short head for second, under James Doyle.
In the following race, the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes, Doyle steered Mark Johnston’s Yalta (8/1) to victory, beating The Last Lion (3/1) three lengths leaving the 2/1 favourite, Global Applause to finish third.
Doyle was himself beaten into third on his next ride in a fillies’ maiden on the 5/4 favourite, Bouquet De Flores. Doyle added to the bookies’ profits by winning the last two handicaps of the day on 14/1 shots, Ed Dunlop’s Sagaciously and Ian Williams’ Shady McCoy.
On Thursday one odds-on favourite came in, Balldoyle’s Rhododendron (10/11) in an EBF fillies’ maiden but the other got beaten. Godolphin’s Blue Point (5/6) had won by 11 lengths last time out and was the pick of the paddock in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes for two-year-olds. Ballydoyle’s Intelligence Cross was fancied to be the second best at 5/2 even though he had been beaten by Al Shaqab’s Mehmas (7/2) last time.
Blue Point led, closely followed by Intelligence Cross but when the latter was unable to quicken the diminutive Mehmas staged a successful challenge under Frankie Dettori to win by a neck. Mehmas was significantly smaller than his more fancied rivals but had a king-sized will to win.
The Goodwood Cup, the Group 2 marathon run over two miles followed. Ballydoyle’s three-year-old Sword Fighter (9/2) was heavily backed to defy his age but Michael Bell’s five-year-old Big Orange started as the 11/4 favourite to retain his title. Both horses were usually front-runners. Jamie Spencer suggested that he could track Sword Fighter on Big Orange but his owners, the Gredleys, told him in no uncertain terms that he was on the best horse and to let him lead.
Everyone suspected that there would be plenty of pace and Sir Mark Prescott had plotted accordingly. He instructed Oisin Murphy to follow the leading pair on the monster-horse Pallasator (9/1), who is much more compliant in a race than before it.
Spencer set the pace and was briefly headed by Sword Fighter but Big Orange responded gamely to Spencer’s urgings, rapidly regaining the lead. He beat his closest challenger, Pallasator, just over a length as Sword Fighter faded to finish fifth.
Friday 29 July was not a good day for the bookies. The main feature for punters, the Betfred Mile (Heritage Handicap) was won by the hot favourite, Michael Bell’s Franklin D at 7/4. Ridden by Ryan Moore for the Gredleys, he beat David Elsworth’s fast finishing Master The World (20/1) a head. The previous two races had also been won by market leaders but Franklin D would have hit the bookmakers hardest. The punters were on a roll and two more favourites came in.
Moore had already taken the opener, the Group 3 Glorious Stakes, on Sir Michael Stoute’s King’s Fete (5/2). He won the last race for him too, a handicap run over a mile and three furlongs, on Poet’s Word, the 7/4 favourite.
It was a treble for Sir Michael too. He saddled Thikriyaat, the 9/4 favourite in the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes for Hamdan Al Maktoum giving Paul Hanagan his only winner of the meeting. Hanagan rode the 5/1 joint favourite, Muthmir in the Group 2 King George Stakes over five furlongs but David Griffiths’ Take Cover (8/1) led from flag fall, beating Ballydoyle’s Washington DC a neck.
On the final day the nine-year-old veteran Hoof It (8/1), partly owned by golfer Lee Westwood, was a popular winner in the opening Stewards’ Sprint handicap – and not just because he was heavily backed on the day. Hoof It was three times the age of the 11/2 market leader, Roger Charlton’s Projection, who finished fifth. It was a consolation race for horses who had failed to get into the Stewards’ Cup.
That was won by the 9/2 favourite, the three-year-old filly Dancing Star trained by Andrew Balding who overcame a 6lb penalty, beating Dandy Nicholls’ Orion’s Bow (6/1) just over a length. Dancing Star not only had course and distance form but liked quick ground and proved to be the proverbial good thing.
The final Group 1 of the meeting was the Nassau Stakes for fillies and mares. Ballydoyle’s all-conquering filly Minding was the shortest priced favourite of the entire meeting at 1/5. Her part owner, Michael Tabor claimed he had not had a bet at that price. He should have done. She was not spectacular but won by about a length, most closely pursued by Sir Michael’s Queen’s Trust (16/1).
After the challenges of finding winners in the mud at Royal Ascot the 2016 Goodwood meeting on summer ground was much more profitable for the majority of punters.