ANDREA ATZENI has found himself the beneficiary of fellow Italian rider Frankie Dettori’s ban this week and heads into Glorious Goodwood with an enviable book of rides.
Leading the way is last year’s Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius, while Without Parole is a fascinating contender for Atzeni in Wednesday’s Sussex Stakes.
We spoke to Atzeni about his two headline rides and also got his thoughts on some of his other exciting rides this week.
How does Glorious Goodwood compare to the other big meetings through the year?
It’s a great meeting. They do an amazing job with the ground and the prize-money is terrific, which is important for everyone involved. It’s a unique track and while I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult track to ride, it’s one where you often need a bit of luck.
You have picked up some major outside rides this week in Stradivarius and Without Parole. How do you feel about that?
A lot of the bigger yards have retained jockeys so it’s unusual to get great spares like this – they are extremely hard to come by. It’s exciting to get the call and hopefully I’ll repay the faith of Mr [John] Gosden and the owners have in me.
Starting with Stradivarius, you won the Goodwood Cup on him last year. How does he compare this year to last?
He was only three last year and still quite narrow and weak last year. When I saw him in the paddock at York on his comeback I hardly recognised him. He was a lot stronger and was much more the finished article. He was very good that day and then very brave when winning the Gold Cup at Ascot. He’s the best stayer around.
What makes you say Stradivarius is the best stayer around? What are his main attributes?
He stays very well but at the same time he’s not short of speed. For a stayer, he can quicken as well. If he turns up in the same form he has done this season then they’ve all got to him to beat. On what he’s done this year he’s the best horse in the race and I think it’s only fair he’s the favourite.
Emmaus goes in the Lennox Stakes on day one for you too. How do you rate his chances?
I think that’s the best thing we’ve ever done pulling him out of the race in France last week because the ground was just too quick. It was a hard decision as the horse was already there and myself and Roger [Varian, trainer] had flown over as well. They’ve had some rain at Goodwood at that’s what he wants. He’s a big, heavy horse and wants some ease underfoot. This looks the perfect race for him.
Without Parole is another exciting ride for you in the Sussex Stakes. Do you think he will take all the beating?
He has the class to be the best miler around and it’s a very exciting ride to pick up and I’m excited about him. It’s going to be a tough race, the Sussex Stakes is a Group 1 and they’re always hard races to win, but I’m going there will a lot of confidence in my horse – I wouldn’t swap him for anything else.
You have ridden Expert Eye, Without Parole’s main rival, before. How much of a danger is he?
I think Expert Eye’s going to be our main danger. I rode him in the Richmond Stakes last year and he gave me an amazing feel. He wasn’t quite the same in the Guineas – maybe he didn’t like Newmarket – but he was right back to his best at Ascot, so he’s not going to be underestimated.
Cape Byron is a leading contender for Friday’s Golden Mile Handicap. Is he capable of winning a race of that nature?
If he ran the way he works then there would be a big race in him for sure. He’s had his problems and he’s been gelded since Ascot, so I hope that helps him. I do hope he gets to have his day because he works like such a good horse at home and we’ve always thought a lot of him. He is a big, heavy horse so he’ll want the ground to be in his favour. If he pulled it all together this race would be no problem for him because he has a lot of ability.
Looking at the rest of the week, who else are you particularly looking forward to riding?
Yourtimeisnow is a lovely filly owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid. She ran well at Newmarket when she was third and she worked really nicely on Saturday. The maidens at Goodwood can be quite good because of the prize-money, but she goes there with every chance and she’s a filly we like a lot. Second Step is a horse I can’t wait to ride on Friday either in the Glorious Stakes. He was good at Newmarket last time and he was second to Poet’s Word in the same race last year. I’m in a very fortunate position of having some really nice ride and I’m looking forward to it.
And, finally, we did not get the chance to see Defoe in the King George last weekend. What is the plan for him now?
It was a good decision not to run Defoe in the King George as the ground would’ve been too quick for him. He needs some ease in the ground, so the rain we’ve had is a plus, and hopefully he can have a good autumn and second half to the year. He’s a very talented horse and as long as he gets his ground he’s got a really big day in him.