Glorious Goodwood lived up to its name, basking in wonderful weather and attracting suitably bumper crowds.
The racing didn’t quite live up to its billing, particularly on the first three days, which relied heavily for their star appeal on the breathtaking turn of foot unleashed by the mighty KINGMAN in winning the Sussex Stakes.
Too many of the Group contests lacked strength in depth, especially in the juvenile division, while one or two of the handicaps yielded results that could only be described as unfathomable.
However, there’s no doubt the five-day meeting sprang to life on the Friday and Saturday, which hosted top-class, competitive cards, even allowing for a sub-standard renewal of the Group One Nassau Stakes.
Belatedly, I have come up with this compact list of 12 horses who took the eye at Goodwood and who should be worth following over the next couple of months.
Incidentally, my pre-Goodwood piece succeeded in unearthing no fewer than 12 winners, including some at tasty prices. Hope you were on!
4yo colt (Luca Cumani) 10f handicaps
The opening race of the week was dominated by Mark Johnston. But the horse to take from the contest was Luca Cumani’s lightly-raced son of Dubawi, who quickened up in style on the outer and was unlucky not to hold on. It was only the eighth race of his career, and he’s still improving. On pedigree, he won’t mind any Soft ground that’s flying around this autumn.
4yo filly (Ed Dunlop) 1m/10f handicaps or Listed
The traumatic season of Newmarket handler Ed Dunlop has been well chronicled. But there are definite signs that he is beginning to emerge from the doldrums, which is good news for this filly. It’s a long time now since she emerged on the scene as a highly progressive handicapper, who almost won the Sandringham at Royal Ascot in 2013. But well handicapped and reportedly working nicely at home, she showed lots of promise off a big weight here.
2yo colt (Charles Hills) 7f/1m nurseries or Pattern
Charles Hills’s son of Dutch Art was swept aside by one of the best juveniles seen so far this season, Faydhan, on his previous start at Haydock. But he improved dramatically for the step-up to 7f in this traditionally warm Goodwood maiden, travelling noticeably sweetly before unveiling a smart turn of foot to put the race to bed. Hills is now considering pitching him into Group company and has one eye on the Solario Stakes at Sandown.
2yo colt (Ed Dunlop) 7f/1m maiden and nurseries
Whenever Ed Dunlop books Ryan Moore, you can be sure the horse is well regarded. This US-bred son of Hard Spun, owned by one of the successful Highclere syndicates, has yet to pull up any trees. But he took the eye in the paddock before this warm maiden, and showed enough in the race itself, without being knocked about, to suggest he’s coming along nicely and sure to win soon. He will always prefer fast ground, but he should develop into a smart handicapper.
2yo colt (Mark Johnston) 7f/1m nurseries
Mark Johnston’s son of Shamardal had shown little in three maidens before tackling this competiitve nursery. But as a result, he found himself on a modest mark of just 72, which in no way reflected the striking impression he made in the paddock as a lengthy, powerful sort. He duly overcame a wayward start to spring from last to first and win so cosily that it’s a stone-cold certainty there is more to come from him.
HORS DE COMBAT
3yo colt (James Fanshawe) 1m Group races
At the start of the season, Newmarket trainer James Fanshawe harboured hopes that this son of Mount Nelson might develop into a Classic contender. He didn’t -- but he’s ready to fulfil his potential now, on the evidence of this terrific performance on his Group-race debut. He had a bit to find on official ratings, but travelled and quickened and was unlucky to be collared by a similarly improving sort close home. The pair pulled clear of a quality field.
3yo colt (Sir Michael Stoute) 12f/14f Listed or Group races
It’s no secret that Khalid Abdullah’s well-bred colt has his quirks, but he is overflowing with natural talent too. He did remarkably well to beat older horses in a good handicap at York last month, despite pulling hard both on his way to post and through the first half of the race. And equally, he did remarkably well to finish second in an even better handicap at Goodwood, considering he had to come from way off the pace where jockey James Doyle was desperately trying to teach him to settle properly. I have no doubt the colt will mature into Group material.
2yo filly (Charles Hills) 7f/1m maiden
A maiden that always favours fillies with previous experience went the way, as expected, of Richard Hannon’s well-backed favourite. But taking the eye in a clear second, on her debut, was Charles Hills’s good-looking daughter of Kodiac. In a steadily-run contest, she had to come from virtually last and was vigorously ridden along from some way out, looking very green. However, she kept responding and will have learned a huge amount from the experience.
4yo gelding (Luca Cumani) 5f/6f handicaps
Wily trainer Luca Cumani is not exactly renowned for his sprinters -- and this gelded son of Dansili has won only two of his 13 starts, the latest 15 months ago. But he’s a an admirably consistent sort, and the smooth way he travelled through Goodwood’s Stewards’ Cup consolation race suggests he can still find a nice prize or two. If he was mine, I’d consider a drop to 5f on a stiff track.
4yo gelding (Bryan Smart) 5f Group sprints
Bryan Smart’s powerful, heavy-topped stable-star was one of the sprinting funds of the season as a three-year-old in 2013. He has been slow to come to hand this term, but went within a whisker here of landing Goodwood’s King George Stakes for the second year running. It was en eyecatching signal that he is returning to his peak, in which case all the top 5f races are worthy targets, including the Nunthorpe at York and the Abbaye at Longchamp.
2yo colt (Richard Hannon) 7f/1m Group races
The sparkling success of Aidan O’Brien’s HIGHLAND REEL in the Group Two Vintage Stakes was one of the highlights of the meeting. But chasing him home was this lovely strong and scopy colt of Richard Hannon’s who can go on to land some Group booty of his own. His debut win at Sandown had not turned me on, but this was a vastly improved effort impossible to ignore, and he can progress again when stepped up to 1m.
3yo colt (John Gosden) 1m/10f Group races
The admirable John Gosden is enjoying a season, spearheaded by Kingman and Taghrooda, to remember. This colt is not on everyone’s radar just yet, but he soon will be, judging by the way he stepped out of handicap company (winning off just 84 at Doncaster two months earlier) to take apart this cracking Group Three contest. Not only did he have stacks to find on the book, he wasn’t suited either by the run of the race, getting hemmed in on the rail. But once extricated, he quickened up most takingly to mow down a smart runner-up -- all on just the fifth start of his career. Adding to the excitement surrounding his potential. he acts on any ground and, on pedigree, he should get further too.