VEUVE CLICQUOT VINTAGE STAKES – 2.15pm – 7f 2yo Group 2
10 juvenile colts come forward for a renewal of the Vintage Stakes that looks more open than the betting would suggest.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Battleground (War Front x Found (Galileo)) bids to emulate last year’s wide-margin Vintage Stakes winner Pinatubo (Shamardal x Lava Flow (Dalakhani)) by completing the Chesham Stakes/Vintage Stakes double. Battleground was a decisive 2½ length winner at the Royal meeting, changing his legs at the furlong pole and lengthening away well to score. However, this year’s Chesham did not look a vintage renewal on paper and that has thus far proven to be the case in the fallout of the race, with 3 of the 5 subsequent runners out of the race failing to reach the frame on their next respective starts, with the sole subsequent winner being Chesham runner-up March Law (Lawman x Dookus (Linamix)), who narrowly scored in a two-runner novice at Ayr. With regards to pedigree, trainer and jockey, they don’t come much better credentialed than Battleground, but the Chesham as a formline has to be taken on in the short-term and, at a likely short price, so does Battleground.
As a formline, this year’s Coventry Stakes has so far proven a touch ‘hit and miss’, with the runner-up Qaader (Night Of Thunder x Redinha (Dansili)) an unplaced favourite in the July Stakes whilst the 3rd-placed Saeiqa (Shalaa x Present Danger (Cadeaux Genereux)) pulled his way out of contention to finish last of the 10 runners in Saturday’s Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot. The race comes under further scrutiny this afternoon as the Coventry 4th, 5th & 6th all come forward here. It may be more coincidental than consequential, but it is hard to ignore the fact that the 1-2-3-5-6 in this year’s Coventry Stakes were all drawn in the lowest 5 stalls, with Dark Lion (Dark Angel x Graciously (Shamardal)) arguably doing very well to take 4th from stall 14 of 15. Dark Lion has since broken his maiden in a 7f novice at Wolverhampton, running out a more dominant winner than the official head margin would suggest (the runner-up that day has won since, albeit narrowly). Dark Lion has not done a lot wrong, but the bare bones of his form leaves him with a good bit to find with some of these and, at single-figure odds, he is another who can be taken on today.
Alan King has had just three individual runners in 2yo Stakes races over the last 10 years (and no winners), and so his rating of Painless Potter (Camacho x Wider World (Dubai Destination)) prior to this year’s Coventry Stakes as the “best juvenile he has trained” may not have carried a lot of weight going into the race. Nevertheless, it did not stop Painless Potter running an excellent race to finish 5th, just 4¼ lengths adrift of the winner. Painless Potter steps up a furlong in trip, a move that is likely to unlock improvement based on the dam’s side of his pedigree. Moreover, it is well worth noting that Alan King produced Dunkerron (Kuroshio x Triple Cee (Cape Cross)) to finish runner-up in this race two years ago; all things considered, Painless Potter rates one of the livelier outsiders in this race and is not to be underestimated. Thunder Of Niagara (Night Of Thunder x Cairncross (Cape Cross)) showed good pace to lay up with the leaders for 5 of the 6 furlongs of last month’s Coventry Stakes, fading late on to finish 6th. Thunder Of Niagara has shown plenty of pace on both career starts to date, and can once again prove a pace angle from stall 10. However, he has to prove that he can see out another furlong effectively and, with that in mind, can be left out of calculations here.
The Group 2 Superlative Stakes has produced 4 of the last 10 winners of the Vintage Stakes, and two colts come forward from that race. Bringing arguably the most solid form claims into the race is Devious Company (Fast Company x Seren Devious (Dr Devious)), twice victorious in 7f novices at Haydock prior to running a good 2nd in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, whose form received a boost with the 5th-placed Ventura Tormenta (Acclamation x Midnight Oasis (Oasis Dream)) narrowly scoring in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly. Devious Company has to be respected a great deal in this race, and is sure to play his part. However, at twice the price (at the time of writing), King Zain (Kingman x Shreyas (Dalakhani)) is fancied to finish a good deal closer to Devious Company than the 3¼ length margin that separated the pair at the July Meeting. Whilst Devious Company had a fairly clean run through that day, King Zain had quite the opposite: bumped at the start, and then the subject of some scrimmaging through the first few furlongs when sandwiched between Master Of The Seas (Dubawi x Firth Of Lorne (Danehill)) and Saint Lawrence (Al Kazeem x Affluent (Oasis Dream)). Travelling well into the closing stages, King Zain then had to be pulled around rivals to make his move, and ultimately he was unable to make an impact in the finish. On what was just his 2nd career start, King Zain looks sure to have learned a lot from that day, and he is fancied to take a big step forward here for trainer Mark Johnston, who has won this race on four occasions.
Youth Spirit (Camelot x Rocana (Fastnet Rock)) took a big step forward from his debut at Haydock (behind Devious Company) to take a 7f maiden at Newmarket’s July Meeting, justifying late market support in the process. The time of that race was strong for the grade, and it is interesting to note that the 3rd-placed that day was sent off market leader for the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot last Saturday, posting an improved figure to finish 3rd. The better ground here should be more to Youth Spirit’s liking and he can make his presence felt. The other runner hailing from maiden/novice company is Gorytus (Footstepsinthesand x Julieta (Teofilo)), who was not without market support when making his first start a winning one in a 7f novice at York. Gorytus looked booked for minor honours with a furlong to run but for a smack from David Nolan that woke him up no end, and he stayed on pleasingly in the closing stages to deny last-time-out winner Star Of Orion (Footstepsinthesand x Harpist (Danehill Dancer)) by a head. Trainer Richard Fahey mentioned the Acomb Stakes in the aftermath of the race, and it is interesting to see Gorytus fast-tracked instead into this contest; with Tom Marquand booked, he can outrun his likely double-figure price.
Granted a clearer passage than last time (easier said than done at Goodwood!), King Zain is fancied to take a big leap forward from the Superlative Stakes and give trainer Mark Johnston a 5th winner in this race. Painless Potter can find improvement upped to 7 furlongs for the first time, and live up to his trainer’s lofty billing with a big run here. Youth Spirit looks a solid chance in this context, and is also fancied to fill the frame. All told however, this looks an open renewal of the Vintage.
AL SHAQAB GOODWOOD CUP – 3.15pm – 2m 3yo+ Group 1
7 horses come forward for this year’s Goodwood Cup, a Group 1 contest that heavily revolves around superstar stayer Stradivarius (Sea The Stars x Private Life (Bering)) as he goes in search of an unprecedented 4th consecutive victory in this race. Stradivarius has sat atop the staying division for four seasons now and cemented himself as a stayer for the ages when running out a domineering winner of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last month, putting 10 lengths between himself and the re-opposing Nayef Road (Galileo x Rose Bonheur (Danehill Dancer)) with consummate ease, making himself just the third 3-time winner of Royal Ascot’s showpiece race. Stradivarius has proven to be nigh on bombproof over today’s course and distance and, seemingly in as good a form as ever, he is going to take an awful lot of stopping as he bids to become the first horse in the Goodwood Cup’s history to win the race four times.
The element of intrigue to this contest comes in the fact that no less than 5 of Stradivarius’ 6 rivals are having their first ‘crack’ at the multiple Champion stayer, and heading his dangers by a considerable margin is Santiago (Authorized x Wadyhatta (Cape Cross)), who may well be the first Group 1-winning 3 year old to have ever taken part in the Goodwood Cup. Santiago has proven a revelation upped to staying distances, first when running out a dominant winner of the 1m6f Group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot prior to backing up 8 days later to win the Group 1 Irish Derby over 1m4f. Without the usual participation from both the UK and France, it is not unfair to suggest that this year’s Irish Derby was far from an ‘up to scratch’ renewal, and the race has not exactly shone yet as a formline. However, Santiago has done next to nothing wrong this year and should improve a good deal for stepping back up in distance. Moreover, the weight-for-age scale dictates that Santiago receives an overly-generous 15lb in weight from his elders and, had this race been run 4 days later (i.e. in August), that allowance would have been ‘just’ 13lb. It is therefore this huge weight allowance that puts Santiago firmly in the mix here despite his trainer Aidan O’Brien having insisted on more than one occasion that he will be a better horse next year; he rates far-and-away the biggest danger to Stradivarius, as the betting strongly suggests.
Leading the 4 year old brigade is Nayef Road (Galileo x Rose Bonheur (Danehill Dancer)), who put in a most gallant effort from the front in last month’s Ascot Gold Cup when setting very honest fractions to finish 2nd, unfortunate to set the race perfectly up for Stradivarius but nevertheless emerging with credit having finished some 8 lengths clear of the 3rd. The step back to 2 miles can suit Nayef Road, as can a return to slightly better ground. Moreover, he was a Group 3 winner on his only prior visit to Goodwood and, if he is allowed a soft enough lead up front, Nayef Road can give a very good account of himself here. Spanish Mission (Noble Mission x Limonar (Street Cry)) has had more than one tussle with Nayef Road, most recently when giving him 3lb and finishing just half a length adrift in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last year prior to taking out the $1,000,000 Jockey Club Derby Invitational Stakes on his final start of 2019. Spanish Mission was last seen finishing runner-up to Dashing Willoughby (Nathaniel x Miss Dashwood (Dylan Thomas)) in the re-scheduled Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown earlier this month; that form leaves him with a good deal to find in this context, for all that he remains unexposed at marathon trips.
Eagles By Day (Sea The Stars x Missunited (Golan)) is a trickier one to weigh up: reported to have bled three starts back when a beaten favourite behind both Spanish Mission & Nayef Road in the 2019 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket, Eagles By Day was put away for the season and reappeared this year in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, where a combination of slow ground and racing keenly looked to be his undoing. Switched to trainer David O’Meara, Eagles By Day returned to winning ways stepped up to 1m6f in the Group 3 John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes at York. However, that did not look the strongest race on paper going in, and the form of the race coming out leaves him with a lot to find in this context.
The line-up is completed by 7 year old Euchen Glen (Authorized x Jabbara (Kingmambo)) and 8 year old Who Dares Wins (Jeremy x Savignano (Polish Precedent)), both of whom are visiting Goodwood for the first time. Who Dares Wins was a well-placed narrow winner of a below-par renewal of the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot, not needing to produce his best form to score. Stamina is more than assured here for Who Dares Wins; ability and class in this context less so. Euchen Glen has his first try in Group company at the ripe old age of 7, and looks set to come up a fair way short here. If he is to play a part in the race, it may well be in the early stages as a potential pace angle. All told, as the market would suggest, both horses look set to struggle trying to lay up with the younger generations, and can be readily left out of calculations.
A lot will depend on the strength of the pace set throughout this race, which looks to lie in the hands of Nayef Road & Euchen Glen. The pace is taken to prove no more than even, and we could be set for a fantastic tussle down Goodwood’s long straight between superstar stayer Stradivarius and young pretender Santiago, with Stradivarius fancied to make history with a record 4th victory in the race. Granted a softish lead, Nayef Road might not be far away at all in the finish and can stake a very strong claim for minor honours.