Talking Horses: all systems go for Glorious Goodwood despite setbacks
There was very disappointing news on Monday when Coroebus, the 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner, was ruled out of his much-anticipated clash with Baaeed, the best miler since Frankel, in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on Wednesday.
Godolphin, Coroebus’s owner, said on Twitter that the three-year-old had been “lame in his box this morning and after examination, was found to have an abscess in his left hind pastern. This is being treated and he will now target the Group One Prix Jacques le Marois [at Deauville in August].”
Baaeed extended his unbeaten career record to eight races with a dominant success in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, and though Coroebus’s win in the St James’s Palace Stakes a couple of hours later was less emphatic, Charlie Appleby’s lightly raced colt would have been a solid second-choice in the betting to upset the favourite.
In his absence, Baaeed will set off at long odds-on against six opponents, including three – Alcohol Free, Order Of Australia and Chindit – that have already been soundly beaten by William Haggas’s four-year-old this season. He will still face one of 2022’s Classic-winning milers, however, as Appleby will now be represented by Modern Games, who took the French 2,000 Guineas in May.
The news that Goodwood’s much-anticipated head-to-head now looks more like an open goal for Baaeed is disappointing all round, as it seems to leave just two possible opportunities – in the International Stakes at York next month and the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October – when the four-year-old might face enough of a challenge to edge his rating closer to the mighty Frankel’s official mark of 140.
But it is a particular letdown for Goodwood, which was already facing a struggle to attract its usual crowd on Wednesday due to the national rail strike. This is a meeting which very much builds from day to day in terms of its attendance, from an average of 12,500 for Tuesday’s opening card over the last five seasons with no Covid restrictions, to 25,000 for the Stewards’ Cup on Saturday.
As a result, it is something of a puzzle that the meeting’s three Group One races – the Goodwood Cup, Sussex Stakes and Nassau Stakes – are run on consecutive days from Tuesday. And though the second meeting between Kyprios and Stradivarius after a memorable Gold Cup at Ascot, with Trueshan and Hollie Doyle also potentially in the mix, should make for a fine renewal of the Goodwood Cup, the two-legged star that most fans would have expected to see is missing.
The horses are the athletes and the sport’s biggest attraction, and Stradivarius without Frankie Dettori is still Stradivarius. Bjorn Nielsen, the eight-year-old’s owner, can also employ anyone he chooses to ride and clearly felt happier with a change in the saddle after Stradivarius’s defeat in the Ascot Gold Cup. Andrea Atzeni, who won the Goodwood Cup in 2017 and 2018 on John and Thady Gosden’s stayer, was an obvious choice.
But no other current rider can even approach Dettori’s popularity and fame among racegoers, and might well prove to be a swansong success should it come to pass on Tuesday will not be quite the same without the Italian leading the celebrations.
Dettori will, in all likelihood, have a quiet Goodwood all round, as the Gosden stable is still struggling to find its usual consistency and Doyle is contracted to ride Nashwa, the yard’s only other entry in a Group One this week, in Thursday’s Nassau Stakes. Dettori has seven booked rides in all over the first two afternoons – including the 50-1 outsider Angel Bleu in the Sussex – and Gosden has entries in just two races aside from the Nassau the following day.
Nielsen said – while wielding the axe – last week that “Frankie remains not only ‘the Strad’s’ biggest fan but a very good friend”. But we all know that the clock is ticking, and “biggest fan” or not, the sight of another jockey centre-stage on one of “his” horses on Tuesday would be a tough one for Dettori to stomach.
Coltrane can cause upset in Goodwood Cup
On paper, Tuesday’s Goodwood Cup is the strongest renewal since the race was promoted to Group One status in 2017, though it remains to be seen whether Trueshan’s connections will let him take his chance on going that is officially good, good-to-firm in places.
Kyprios and Stradivarius set the standard on their respective first and third-place finishes in the Gold Cup at Ascot, where Stradivarius would have finished much closer to the winner, at least, with a clear run. Trueshan, meanwhile, landed the Northumberland Plate off a mark of 120 last time out, one of the outstanding handicap performances of recent decades.
With so much focus on the front three in the betting, though, the improvement shown by Andrew Balding’s lightly-raced five-year-old Coltrane (3.35) this summer seems to have been overlooked. He followed up his win in the Ascot Stakes with a 10-length success in a Listed race at Sandown earlier this month, stopping the clock in a strong time as he did so, and at around 10-1 he is an excellent each-way alternative to the market leaders.
Goodwood 1.50 Moktasaab ran well on his first three starts for William Knight, and registered two wins, after joining the stable over the winter and did not get home when stepped up to a mile-and-a-half at Royal Ascot in June. He has been dropped 2lb since to just a 3lb higher mark than for his comfortable win over track and trip in April, so quotes of around 12-1 look generous.
Goodwood 2.25 Holloway Boy was one of the most surprising Royal Ascot winners of recent years last month, when he became the first horse to score at the meeting on debut since 1996. The time of the race suggests it was no fluke, however, and he is the one to beat.
Goodwood 3.00 William Haggas would probably have preferred to get a run into Sacred before the Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot last month but she ran really well to finish within a length of the winner off a 308-day break. She was doing her best work at the finish, which suggests this return to seven furlongs – the trip at which she won a strong renewal of the Hungerford Stakes last August – is just what she needs.
Goodwood 4.10 There is little to recommend Lord Riddiford in his recent form, including two runs since a wind op in the spring, but it was much the same story 12 months ago when he bounced back to his best to register a comfortable win in this race off a 1lb higher mark. That was on rain-softened ground but he has form on quicker going too and he is an interesting contender at around 12-1.
Goodwood 4.45 One of the most valuable maidens of the summer and Celtic Champion could be the best bet to land the spoils. Andrew Balding’s colt ran green on his debut at Windsor in June but still showed plenty of promise to finish two lengths behind the winner, and the second and fourth horses home have both won since.