The Matchbook Betting Exchange handicap is the curtain raiser to the Glorious Goodwood festival. The summer racing spectacular takes place over five days and will feature some of equine’s elite. The opening race may not have any superstars, but it promises to be a very competitive affair, with fifteen horses set to go to post.
William Haggas trains the current favourite, Alfarris who has been the subject of sustained support in recent days. This four-year-old son of Shamardal has from figures of 12 in two starts and looks like a very likeable improving sort. Jim Crowley has chosen to partner him, and a big run looks on the cards.
Dark Red passed the post in front in this contest last season but having hung left and impeded Fabricate he was demoted to the runner-up spot. Ed Dunlop will be hoping he can win the race outright this time around but racing off ten pounds higher will prove tough.
Appeared has run two very good races in top handicaps this season and this lightly raced six-year-old is my idea of the winner for Luca Cumani and Andrea Atzeni.
The Group 2 Vintage Stakes is the first Group race of the week and has been won by some quality two-year-olds down through the years who have had classic aspirations for the following season. In recent times Sir Percy (2005), Highland Reel (2014) and Galileo Gold (2018) have all lifted this prize.
The unbeaten Confiding heads the market following a cosy maiden victory at Newbury in June. That was a very smart performance from the son Iffraaj and with the in-form Callum Sheppard retaining the partnership, Confiding looks like the one to beat.
Martyn Meade’s inmate is not the only unbeaten colt in the field, as Mark Johnston sends out Dark Vision who’s won both racecourse forays to date in convincing fashion. The son of Dream Ahead will now have the assistance of champion jockey Silvestre de sous in the plate and rates as a huge danger to all.
Others to note include Cosmic Law, Drogon and Blonde Warrior.
Selection: Dark Vision
The Lennox Stakes is a Group 2 event ran over the specialist trip of seven furlongs. The race was established in 2000 and has been won by quality Group horses. Two of which are bidding for a second victory this year. Dutch Connection won the race in 2016 under James McDonald who was winning on nearly everything he rode at the time.
Dutch Connection excels at this distance and although the Godolphin owned horse was disappointing in the Criterion at Newmarket in late June. Charlie Hills will have had this race in his mind for some time and the son of Dutch Art has a huge chance.
David Simcock’s Breton Rock won the race last season when partnered by Andrea Atzeni. However, this year Martin Harley takes over the steering duties and notably, he was victorious on his only other time riding Breton Rock. Simcock should now have his eight-year-old primed following a pipe-opener at Newmarket in June.
The classic generation is represented by Tip Two Win who was second in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket behind Saxon Warrior and then ran very well to finish fourth behind Without Parole in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes. The drop down in trip should suit the son of Dark Angel and he must be fancied to run very well.
The very lightly raced Emmaus has won three out of his four career starts to date with his only defeat coming in a listed event at Deauville as a juvenile. This defeat was also o the quickest ground Emmaus had encountered, and this must be a worry.
Roger Varian will be hoping the son of Invincible Spirit handles the quick underfoot conditions and extends his winning streak.
Of the remaining runners, David O’Meara will be looking for Suedois to reproduce the form he showed when finishing third in the Summer Mile two weeks ago and Sir Dancealot has been a very consistent horse and should be bang there too.
Selection: Dutch Connection
The highlight of the opening day at the Glorious Goodwood festival is the Group 1 Goodwood Cup where a select field of seven horses are set to face the starter. Big Orange made the race his own with two victories in recent seasons.
John Gosden will be hoping that Stradivarius can follow suit by claiming back to back victories having won the race last season in cosy fashion. The Sea The Stars colt looks to be the best stayer in training having won the Yorkshire Cup and Ascot Gold Cup on both starts this season.
The only threat to Stradivarius retaining his crown is the Jessica Harrington trained Torcedor. The son of Fastnet Rock ran a very credible race on seasonal debut when beaten under a length in the Ascot Gold Cup and given normal progression he’s a strong threat to Stradivarius.
Others to note are Idaho and the Queen’s Call To Mind but they will both have to find improvement if they are to feature.
The Galway festival is also taking place in Ireland on Tuesday and the Colm Quinn BMW Mile handicap is the feature race. This ultra-competitive handicap is one of the main summer targets for trainers on both sides of the Irish Sea, which is no surprise given the €120,000 prize fund.
One can’t talk about Ballybrit without mentioning festival regular Baraweez who lines up here for the fifth year and he has travelled back to Brain Ellison’s base victorious on two occasions. He may be slightly high in the handicap, but course form is invaluable around Galway and another big run looks likely.
Riven Light returned as a winning favourite in this race last year, but Willie Mullins’s charge might find top weight too much to carry this time around.
The horse I like in this year’s race is the Keith Dalgleish trained What’s The Story who has run very well on his two most recent starts in the Royal Hunt Cup and John Smith’s Cup. The form of both races has worked out very well and he looks like huge value.
Others to note include Dream Walker, Inscribe and Saltonstall.
Selection: What’s The Story