It's day one of Glorious Goodwood and our resident tipster has run the rule over this afternoon's four Channel 4-televised races.
You can expect plenty of unlucky losers and trouble in running at Glorious Goodwood this week but, undaunted, here’s my take on this afternoon’s televised fare.
2.00: Sky Bet First Race Special Stakes (Handicap), 1m1f192yds
Mark Johnston has developed a real affinity with this meeting down the years and backing all his runners here since 2011 would have yielded 32 winners for a healthy £1 level-stakes profit of £44.12. Given his current hot streak, it could prove wise to give all his runners this week a second look and he can get the meeting off to a flyer with ZAND, who is making his stable debut in a race the trainer has won four times in the last nine years.
Formerly with John Oxx, who trained him to win four races, including a hat-trick in Switzerland in the first half of last year, he makes his debut for the Middleham trainer here and is the chosen mount of Joe Fanning, who has won on him twice previously. What makes him of real interest, though, is his liking for some dig in the ground, with the meeting expected to start on slowish surface. Even better, we can back him at 9/1 with Sky Bet safe in the knowledge we will get our money back as a free bet (up to £25) should he not win.
2.35: Qatar Vintage Stakes (Group 2), 7f
The Richard Fahey-trained Birchwood is likely to go off favourite following his success in the Superlative Stakes at the July meeting, but a penalty for that success will make life tougher and the other Godolphin runner, STRONG CHALLENGE offers far better value at bet365’s 4/1. He was a comfortable winner of a decent maiden here in early June from Gutaifan, who has franked the form in no uncertain style by going on to land a hat-trick, and there is almost certainly better to come from the selection on only his third start. James Doyle renews the partnership and, while he’s stepping up a furlong here, he wasn’t stopping at the finish last time.
3.10: Qatar Lennox Stakes (Group 2), 7f
It will be fascinating to see how Safety Check performs on his first run back since landing a hat-trick at Meydan in February. His lack of a recent outing is not ideal, however, and the two to concentrate on are surely Toormore, who is the top-rated runner, and Charlie Hills’ DUTCH CONNECTION. The latter has a bit to fund on the ratings, but he could still be improving judged on his latest close second to 2000 Guineas runner-up Territories in a Chantilly Group 1 over a mile, with the rest at least six lengths away. The drop back to 7f, over which he won the Jersey Stakes on his previous start, should suit and, just as important, he has some course form to his name, having scored as a juvenile at last year’s meeting. His trainer remains in electric form and the selection, a 5/2 shot with Betfair, can give him another winner.
Toormore is of course respected as he has been running with plenty of credit at the highest level, but he invariably finds one to beat him and you have to go back to April of last year for the last time he got his head in front.
3.45: Summer Stakes (Handicap), 1m6f
This looks tough with bookies going 7/1 the field, but it’s hard to resist a crack. Ajman Bridge deserves to be favourite at that price as he’s run well on all four starts this season, including when finishing second over 1m4f at Royal Ascot. However, he’s not getting any respite from the handicapper and I prefer the chances of BATTERSEA with 8/1 up for grabs at Coral.
Roger Varian’s charge looked a Pattern performer in the making when winning back-to-back races races (both over 1m4f) at Ascot last season and is sure to come on a bundle for his comeback run at Haydock earlier this month. Dropped a 1lb since and reunited with Andrea Atzeni, who is riding out his skin right now, he looks worth chancing over this longer given the manner of his two victories last term, when earning the form comments ‘soon in command, pushed out, comfortably’ and ‘stayed on well to assert inside final furlong.’
The absolute clincher for the bet, though, is the phenomenal form of his stable. After a slow start, Varian has been firing in the winners left right and centre this month with 12 winners coming in the last fortnight, and his last two runners (going into Monday’s racing) have won at 10/1 and 13/2.