The weather may not have been glorious throughout at Goodwood this year, with the first couple of days in particular being less than tropical. The action on the track did however consistently live up to the title of this meeting, providing five days of racing excellence that will live long in the memory. Here we run through the pick of the week’s big stories.
Trainers, jockeys, owners and fans alike flock to the Sussex Downs year upon year to witness one of British racings greatest shows on turf. It is of course the equine athletes who are the real stars of the show though, and in 2019 it was two of the sport’s most spectacular performers who stole the limelight.
First up came John Gosden’s stayer supreme, Stradivarius, in the opening days Goodwood Cup over two miles. This ultra-tough son of Sea The Stars took this prize as a three year old in 2017, before successfully defending his title on route to claiming the £1million Stayers Million in 2018. The question ahead of this year’s renewal was could he join the legendary Double Trigger as a three-time winner of this race – and become the first horse ever to come home in front three years in succession? Of course he could! Coming with a withering run down the outside, he ground his way to the front, prevailing by a neck from Dee Ex Bee.
Whilst Stradivarius relied on stamina for his hattrick, it was sheer speed which took Charles Hills Battaash into the winner’s enclosure in the King George stakes for the third year in succession. There are few sights in racing as exhilarating as seeing this one in full flow, and there was no stopping him here as he hit a top speed of close to 50mph in bursting away from his rivals once again. Plenty of smart sprinters have come and gone in the King George Stakes but, until now, no horse had managed to claim top spot three times.
Hot Scorches Again
Johns Gosden didn’t take long to back up his Group 1 success with Stradivarius on the opening day, as the Newmarket handler also claimed top spot in the biggest race of the meeting.
Having bounced right back to form in France last time out, last seasons Champion Juvenile Too Darn Hot was sent off a warm even money favourite for this years Sussex Stakes. Undoubtedly the quickest horse in the race, could he finally register a first success at the one-mile trip?
In truth there never looked to be too much doubt. Travelling ominously well throughout in the hands of Frankie Dettori, the son of Dubawi picked up in resounding style to come home half a length clear of Circus Maximus. In possession of so much speed, the colt has plenty of options as to where to head next, but it is the Breeders’ Cup Mile which looks to be his long-term objective.
Mellah Makes History
The Magnolia Cup may not be the highest profile contest at the meeting, but does annually see a field of female jockeys – including celebrities – line up to raise money for charity. Always a worthy addition to the meeting, the race this year hit the headlines thanks to a jockey by the name of Khadijah Mellah. Not content with becoming the first woman to race wearing a hijab in Britain, Khadijah duly went on to win the race aboard the Charlie Fellowes trained Haverland.
Deirdre Delight For Japan
A four-time Group race winner in her native Japan, Deirdre had the fans back home staying up late to see how she got on during her jaunt to England to take in the Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood festivals.
Nothing really went the way of this daughter of Harbinger at Ascot – where the soft ground was all against her – but those who kept the faith were richly rewarded in the Nassau Stakes. Staying on dourly up the far rail, the five year old slowly but surely ate into the lead of Mehdaayih to win going away by 1¼l, at odds of 20/1. Possibly the single most important result of the meeting in terms of attracting overseas stars in the future.
Speed and stamina are all well and good when it comes to racehorses, but the attribute which can often really separate a runner from their rivals is a sheer will to win. If there is a horse currently in training who possesses this attribute in more abundance than the Mark Johnston trained King’s Advice, then we haven’t seen them.
Only having joined the Johnston operation in February of this year, the son of Frankel is now in the midst of an astonishing winning sequence, claiming top spot in eight of nine starts for Johnston. The most recent of those wins came in the Summer Handicap on the closing day of this meeting, with the five year old once again really sticking his neck out for Joe Fanning to prevail by a neck. Next stop the £1million Ebor at York. A race for which he is now 10/1 favourite with bet365.
Johnston Jubilant In July
King’s Advice certainly wasn’t the only high point for Mark Johnston over the course of the week. The Middleham handler drew a blank on the opening Tuesday, but quickly found his stride to rattle in doubles on the Wednesday and Thursday, and a winner apiece on the final two days. That total of six being enough to hand him the Glorious Goodwood top trainer honours. Those six wins were a mere fraction of the 50 winners Johnston recorded in the month of July though – a total which represented a new British record for the month.
P J McDonald was top of the jockey’s pile with four wins across the week, headlined by the victory of Duke Of Hazzard in the Group 3 Bonham’s Thoroughbred Stakes.