Five days of fantastic racing from Goodwood starts today and it promises to be a fascinating week.
The first race that I am interested in today is the Qatar Vintage Stakes (14:35) which is a Group 2 seven furlong for two year olds. Aiden O'Brien won this last year with Highland Reel but his runner this time around, Air Vice Marshal, has been declared a non runner.
Birchwood is a solid favourite as he beat Air Vice Marshal last time out in what was his third win in four starts. As that was also a Group 2 race he has a three pound penalty here. Add to that its one defeat came on ground that was good to yielding, which is not too dissimilar to today's going, and I think he is plenty short enough in the betting.
Ibn Malik for Charlie Hills has only run the one time when winning over seven furlongs at Newmarket, however that form has been nicely franked with the second and third horses in that race subsequently winning.
Galileo Gold is partnered by Frankie Dettori for the first time and was a nice winner at Haydock Park earlier this month on ground that was good to soft. That was his first run over seven furlongs and looks to have the scope for a good bit of improvement. If so then I think there's a good chance he could make the frame here.
Strong Challenge is the Godolphin entry here and looks an exciting colt. He was an impressive winner here over six furlongs in June when beating Gutaifan by nearly two lengths. Gutaifan has since won three races on the spin including a Group 2 in France on his latest outing. Strong Challenge cost Godolphin 200,000 guineas and I think he has the potential to be top class and with a good performance here he is certain to enter the 2,000 guineas reckoning for next year.
The Qatar Lennoz Stakes (15:10) is another Group 2 over seven furlongs but this is not confined to two year olds.
Toormore is the obvious starting point here and the Richard Hannon trained horse has recently been purchased by Godolphin. He will continue to be trained by Hannon however. He has been in good form this year just missing out to Night of Thunder in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and then leading for a long way only to tire in the final furlong and be beaten by the impressive Solow at Ascot. I think seven furlongs is his optimum trip and he was second here last year, beaten by a neck by Es Que Love.
Tupi is another for the Hannon yard and was an excellent winner at Newmarket earlier this month in a Listed race over a mile. He seems equally happy over seven furlongs and I would give him a good each way chance. The one reservation I would have about him is that he was beaten a long way on soft ground at Doncaster last year (although it was the Racing Post Trophy so a Group 1) and he may not act as well as some others in these conditions.
Ascription is an interesting runner having won three times on good to soft. If the remaining eight horses line up then I think there is definitely some value about him as an each way play.
Dutch Connection is my pick here. He was a good winner in the Jersey Stakes at Ascot (Tupi back in fourth) and then ran a brilliant second to just miss out on a Group 1 in France by only half a length. Three year olds have a good record in this race with the six pounds weight allowance being an obvious advantage. This looks as though it could be a really tight race and being able to come down the hill at Goodwood is an important trait a horse needs to have. Dutch Connection won here as a two year old so we know he can handle the track.
Goodwood 14:35 Strong Challenge - 1 point @ 7/2
Goodwood 15:10 Dutch Connection - 1 point @ 5/2
Double - 1/2 a point on the above two selections