A reshuffle of the Goodwood pack following the upgrading of the Goodwood Cup to Group 1 status means the race is now the centrepiece on day one and, despite the presence of Big Orange looking for his third consecutive win in the race, it has attracted a large field of opponents.
Unlike at Ascot, where he was the underdog Big O will have a big target on his back at Goodwood so while I will be cheering him on he will not be carrying any betting tickets this time around.
Betting at Goodwood necessitates not allowing frustration to get the better of you. Almost all of the significant handicaps will be littered with hard luck stories but in true punting fashion you can never quite resist sticking stepping into the lion’s den so let’s get going early with:
Progressive for Johnny Murtagh last year, Eddystone Rock has run right up to that form for John Best this season and in a steadily run and messy John Smith’s Cup was one of those to find some trouble at a crucial stage.
He will again need luck but from stall five but is better berthed than Garcia, the biggest eyecatcher from the York race, and is available at more than double the price. The stable is also flying at the moment with five winners from just their past seven runners. Luck in the run will be crucial but he looks worth risking.
With no 7f domestic Group 1 race in the calendar the Lennox Stakes represents a major target for those who specialise at the trip and so it is likely to have been on Aclaim’s agenda for some time.
He met trouble over a trip short of his best in the Diamond Jubilee last start but is versatile as regards ground and is reunited with Frankie Dettori for the first time since the pair won a similar race in the Group 2 7f Challenge Stakes at Newmarket. That maintained his 100 per cent record over a trip which can produce specialists and he looks worth a bet.
4.55 Beverley: GEORDIE GEORGE
However much Beverley dries out there is little doubt the ability to handle testing ground will be crucial after an inch of rain fell there over the weekend.
This will suit Geordie George as I witnessed first hand when calling him to victory at a soggy Carlisle in June. He was helped by avoiding trouble on the rail that night but with his only previous victory coming on heavy ground on debut he is clearly a real mudlark who will be suited by stepping back in trip here.
8.20 Worcester: BISE D’ESTRUVAL
First starters for the Dan Skelton yard have an excellent record as he clearly targets short term returns with several of the lower key recruits to the yard.
Bise D’Estruval was a big disappointment for the Million in Mind partnership last season but was picked up cheaply and could add to that record in the Worcester finale.
Two of the previous three horses to have switched to the yard from Nigel Twiston-Davies , What A Warrior and What A Good Night, won first time out for Skelton so hopefully Bise D’Estruval can finish off this race more strongly than she did on occasions last season.