Horse Racing: Goodwood Cup Preview

Jamie SpencerThe Goodwood Cup features a rematch between the first two home last year, Big Orange (9/2) and Quest For More (8/1), with last year’s fourth, sixth and seventh also in the field (3.10pm Thursday).

Big Orange, who subsequently finished fifth in the Melbourne Cup, was originally intended to run in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot but instead comes into the race on the back of an all-the-way win in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, just as he did last year.

The Duke Of Marmalade gelding was all out to hold Quest For More by a neck in this race last year, but is reported physically stronger by his trainer this year. With conditions in his favour and reunited with last year’s winning jockey, Jamie Spencer (pictured), he must have every chance of winning again.

Pallasator (7/1) is 5lb better off for the 1¼ lengths he finished behind Sandro Botticelli (16/1) in the Coral Marathon at Sandown earlier this month, in which he was also denied a clear run in the closing stages, so should be able to reverse that form. However, he has 3¼ lengths to find with Big Orange on their running in this race last year and is no better off at the weights, so there’s no obvious reason why he should fare any better this time.

Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old colt Sword Fighter (7/1) receives a 17lb weight-for-age allowance from all his rivals and has improved since stepped up to staying distances on his last two starts. He made most of the running and held on gamely in the closing stages to win the Queen’s Vase over two miles at Royal Ascot by three-quarters of a length. He then followed up in the Curragh Cup, over one mile six furlongs, where he beat the Queen’s Vase fourth, stable companion Landofhopeandglory, by two lengths. He remains open to significant improvement after just six career starts, but has yet to race, never mind win, on going faster than good.

Prior to winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes over 2 miles 5½ furlongs at Royal Ascot, Commissioned (10/1) hadn’t raced on the Flat since his three-year-old days with Mark Johnston, but he stayed on strongly to beat Cayirli by 1¾ lengths, with Oriental Fox (25/1) and Sandro Botticelli further behind in fourth and fifth and is weighted to confirm that form. Officially, he is actually the co-lowest rated horse in the race, but he is clearly blessed with stamina in abundance and remains unexposed in this sphere.

Commissioned changed hands at the John Ferguson dispersal sale at Cheltenham prior to that Ascot victory. It is not a surprise that he improved for the switch from the retired Ferguson to Gordon Elliott’s yard. In keeping with many of his stablemates that day, this decent handicap hurdler did not look 100% sound as he passed through the ring and he might prove fragile going forward. That is possibly one of the reasons his new trainer has returned him to Flat racing.

There are a few with chances, but none more so than Big Orange, who may have had the run of the race at Newmarket last time, but still wasn’t seriously challenged over a distance short of his best.

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