2.40 Goodwood – OASIS FANTASY (nap)
An excellent renewal of this three-year-old handicap, with several of these coming into this on a steep upward curve and one or two maybe even harbouring pattern race aspirations, while one gelding comes into this off the back of an eyecatching second here earlier in the week – notable past winners include Dawn Invasion, No Refuge, Foxhaven, Regal Flush, Verdant, Whiplash Willie and Pether’s Moon.
The selection, trained by Ed Dunlop, is a well-bred son of Oasis Dream who won the second of his two outings last term and, having been unsuited by very testing conditions on his return at Sandown and then given too much to do at Brighton, regained the winning thread with a last-gasp success in a course and distance handicap in June, overcoming trouble in running to finish off strongly and deny Rocket Ship by 2 lengths. He ran an excellent race in defeat in a 12f handicap at Ascot three weeks ago, splitting the highly progressive pair of Battersea and Maid In Rio, waited with towards the rear of the field and staying on strongly for pressure to take second close home. He has been raised 3lbs for that effort, but this well-related colt likely has a whole lot more to come (bred to excel with time/distance); style of racing so far means he may well be a hostage to fortune around at this venue, but still no surprise to see this son of Oasis Dream return to winning ways here at potentially decent odds.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained King’s Fete is a son of King’s Best who built on a hugely encouraging debut effort to land a 10f maiden at Sandown, staying on strongly to see off Obsidian, and he followed up in fine style when defeating his elders in a 102f handicap at York last month, racing keenly in behind the leaders but taking over approaching the final furlong and keeping on well see off Mighty Yar by half a length. It was to this colt’s credit that he saw things out having raced so freely (also took a strong hold to post), finding plenty to see off a good yardstick who is well fancied for the Ebor; 5lbs rise for that success fair, and very surprising were there not more to come from now fitted with a hood in a race his stable does particularly well in.
Luca Cumani’s Second Step is a son of Dalakhani who found just the one too good on debut last autumn, duly going one better on his return to action in a strongly-contested 10f maiden at Newbury in May, taking over approaching the final furlong and, despite looking rather awkward under pressure, found enough to see off Igider by half a length (King’s Fete back in fourth). He returned to the Berkshire venue for a 12f handicap a month or so later, tracking the leaders and ridden to lead over two furlongs out, always doing enough to see off Arabian Revolution by 2 lengths. The second placed horse’s lack of resolution (folded tamely at Ffos Las on Thursday) helped this gelding’s cause to an extent, and he is now 7lbs higher in what is a much deeper race; interesting to see how he handles this track.
The William Haggas-trained Satellite impressed when making a winning debut in a 10f maiden at Ripon in April, and he did very well to finish in a hotly-contested London Gold Cup at Newbury the following month, effectively bolting out in front but still there approaching the final furlong, inevitably fading thereafter as he came home in fourth behind smart pair Cannock Chase and Windshear. However, doubts about his temperament began to creep in despite a second place finish to the progressive Roseburg in a 10f classified event at Doncaster last time, carrying his head high and also hanging for pressure, going down by a short head. The pair were well clear on the day and this colt only narrowly failed in the end, but his response off the bridle was a bit of a concern; also has to contend with an 8lbs rise here, but has the latent ability to play a part and Ryan Moore the right man to get the desired response from him.
Mark Johnston saddles a couple here, the first of them being Double Bluff, a son of Azamour who won a 1m 1f maiden here in good style last autumn before being highly tried on his next two starts, including when third behind smart pair Western Hymn and Snow Sky in a 10f conditions event at Newbury in April. He was well beaten in the Lingfield Derby Trial next time before finishing last in a 10f handicap at Epsom on Derby day, but he has offered a bit more encouragement the last twice when attempting to make all, including last Sunday when finding only Pallasator too good in a 12f handicap at Ascot. That was an extremely creditable effort in defeat, seemingly improving for the step up to this distance and finding only a smart sort too good; concedes weight all round back in his own age group and faces some improving/unexposed sorts, but sure to give it his best short once again.
Stablemate Rainbow Rock is a nicely-bred son of Rock Of Gibraltar who shaped better than the bare result in maidens at two, but he’d threatened to become disappointing this term, beaten on his first three outings this term (well fancied each time), but a gelding operation appeared to do the trick when running out a ready winner of a 10f handicap at Beverley last month. His latest outing came in a 10f handicap here 48 hours ago, shoved along in last from early stage and left poorly placed as a result, making progress over two furlongs out and finishing off strongly to run stablemate Lyn Valley to half a length at the line. He is quite clearly thriving at present, for all it appears he does appear he isn’t entirely straightforward, and the extra emphasis on stamina ought to suit; cannot be ruled out in his current mood if over those exertions of Thursday.
The Ed Vaughan-trained Adventure Seeker shaped well on his first two outings at two in strong maidens prior to landing a 1m maiden at Kempton under a canny ride, but he was a little disappointing in a 1m nursery back there on his final start of the campaign (strong form). He finished fifth in an ultra strong 10f handicap at Beverley on his return in April and showed the benefit for that run when landing a 12f handicap at York in May, making smooth progress over two furlongs out and overcoming trouble in running to stay on strongly and deny Penhill by 2¼ lengths. This son of Dalakhani has some very strong form in the book, beating a dual subsequent winner with a bit in hand last time; has been hit with an 11lbs rise for that success, but no real surprise to see this colt pull out the required improvement to get involved here.
The Amanda Perrett-trained Black Shadow is a nicely-bred son of New Approach who stepped up on his debut effort when chasing home subsequent Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Honor Bound in a 10f maiden at Windsor on his return to action in April, duly going one better in an 11f maiden here a month later. He turned in a very creditable effort in defeat in a 10f handicap at Epsom in June, finding only the useful What About Carlo too good, unlikely to have been suited by the step back in distance; been nudged up 2lbs for that effort, but could well be open to further improvement over this trip.
4.25 Goodwood – SECRET BRIEF (nb)
This two-year-old maiden confined to colts and geldings is often an above-average contest – notable past winners including Jonquil, Opera Cape, Jukebox Jury, Pausanias, Nawwaar and Steeler – and this year’s renewal features a handful with previous experience that have all shown some form of promise, while there is an interesting newcomer representing respected connections.
The selection, trained by Mark Johnston, is a Shamardal half brother to connections’ smart 7f/1m 2yo Steeler (won this race in 2012) who debuted in a 6f maiden at Ripon back in May (well-fancied 11/4 chance), close up until badly hampered passing the two furlong marker, pushed along soon after and making headway two furlongs out, running green and one paced under considerate handling inside the final furlong as he came home in third behind Jersey Bull (beaten 4 lengths). It was a commendable debut effort in the circumstances, his greenness throughout compounded by being squeezed out early on and stumbling in what was a rough race, shaping as though in need of further, as per his pedigree. He gets that here and it is interesting he makes his return in this particular race given his stable has won it with Jukebox Jury and half brother Steeler in recent times; has been given a raft of Group entries since he was last seen, and no surprise to see this son of Shamardal set himself up for a crack at a higher level with victory here.
The Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection is a son of Dutch Art who shaped nicely amidst greenness when third to Sixty in a 6f maiden at Salisbury on debut back in June, and he had the misfortune to bump into exciting prospect Faydhan in a 6f maiden at Haydock a month ago, close up and leading passing the two furlong marker but swept aside by the winner inside the final furlong, coming home 6 lengths adrift at the line. He has shown more than enough to suggest a maiden win will prove within his compass, and a pair of Group race entries indicate the regard in which he’s held; step up to seven furlongs should prove within reach around here and an obvious contender.
The Richard Hannon-trained Lethal Legacy is a son of Alfred Nobel who debuted in a 7f maiden at Newbury last month (unconsidered 33/1 chance), tracking the leaders and travelling nicely off just a modest gallop, shaken up well over a furlong out and keeping on well for pressure inside the final furlong to come home in fourth behind Nafaqa (beaten 1 lengths). It was a highly encouraging debut effort this colt, travelling smoothly for two-thirds of the race and finishing off to good effect; stable boasts a good record in this race and, for all he lacks the big-race entries of some in this field, ought to be involved in some capacity.
Stablemate Maftoon is a son of Dark Angel who shaped with some promise when a staying on fourth behind Epithet on his debut outing in a 6f maiden at Newmarket (July) in June, and he showed some improvement for the step up in trip when finishing third to Medrano in a 7f maiden at Haydock the following month, trying to challenge inside the final furlong but unable to make any real impression. This colt didn’t improve quite as much as expected for his debut run/the extra furlong last time out when 3/1 market leader, and this looks to be a deeper race; could well prove vulnerable once again.
The Paul Cole-trained Rotherwick is a son of Starspangledbanner who stepped up on his debut sixth at Newbury (5f) to finish a creditable third to Markaz in a 6f maiden at Ascot eight days later, tracking the leaders and pushed along over two furlongs out, holding every chance entering the final furlong but unable to match the front two (beaten 1¼ lengths). It was a much improved effort from this colt, seemingly suited by the extra furlong, though experience counted for plenty on the day in what appealed as just a fair maiden for the track; others make more appeal overall.
Ed Dunlop’s Fieldsman is a son of Hard Spun who debuted in the same 7f maiden at Newbury last month as the re-opposing Lethal Legacy (33/1 chance), tracking the leaders and making progress over two furlongs out, ridden to try and challenge over a furlong from home but proving one paced, fading inside the final furlong as he came home in sixth behind Nafaqa (beaten 5 lengths). It was a debut run that promised better to come, in the mix approaching the final furlong but unable to sustain his effort to the line, be it through a lack of fitness or stamina; entitled to strip fitter for that run, and the booking of Ryan Moore an interesting one.
The Andrew Balding-trained Dance Of Fire is a nicely-bred son of Norse Dancer who made his debut outing in a 7f maiden at Sandown 10 days ago (unfancied 33/1 chance), racing keenly throughout the early stages until dropped in behind runners, racing in mid-division and shaken up over two furlongs out, ridden and making eyecatching progress throughout the final furlong to take fifth behind Darshini (beaten 2½ lengths). It paid to race handily on the day, so this colt probably did well to get as close as he did at the line; been found a tough enough race in which to build on that debut promise.
The more interesting of the two newcomers in the field is the Charlie Hills-trained Heatstroke, a son of Galileo who is a full brother to 12f 3yo AW winner The Corsican and a winner in Sweden, out of a Grade 3-placed UK/US 5-9f winner who was closely related to smart 8-11f winner (including the Italian Oaks) Contredanse, Canadian 8.5f Group 2 winner Callwood Dancer and Group 1-placed 7f 2yo winner Set Sail. This colt makes plenty of appeal on pedigree, his dam a very useful performer and herself closely related to a pair of Group 2 winners; entries in the Champagne Stakes and Royal Lodge indicate the regard in which this colt is held, though he’ll certainly need to be useful to topple those with experience here.