2.05 Goodwood – ASTRONEREUS (nap)
The opening three-year-old handicap on the card has always been a well-contested event that unearths a Group performer from time to time – notable recent winners including Tiber, Enforcer, Pipedreamer, Indian Days and Grandeur – and this year’s renewal features a fascinating mixture of highly progressive and unexposed sorts, including one seeking a four-timer.
The selection, trained by Amanda Perrett, is a well-bred son of Sea The Stars who shaped better than the bare result implied when ninth to Connecticut in a strongly-contested 10f maiden at Newbury in May, and he found only well-ridden stablemate Pack Leader too good in a course and distance maiden the following month, staying on well inside the final furlong. He came good at the third time of asking in a 10f maiden at Newmarket’s July meeting three weeks ago (15/2 chance), waited with in behind the leaders and shaken up three furlongs out, caught behind runners and forced to switch twice in between the two and one furlong markers, staying on strongly to lead inside the final 100 yards and win going away by 2 lengths. He is improving with each outing and boasts some solid maiden form, moving into this sphere off what appears to be a very workable mark of 87; St Leger entry indicates the level connections expect him to reach in time, and no surprise to see this son of Sea The Stars set himself up for a tilt at something bigger with victory here.
The Luca Cumani-trained Roseburg is a son of Tamayuz who has improved no end this term, starting off with a good third place finish to GM Hopkins in a 1m maiden at Nottingham in April before breaking his duck at the fourth time of asking in a 10f maiden at Pontefract, forging clear inside the final furlong to run out a ready winner. He recorded a narrow victory over Satellite in a 10f classified event at Doncaster, and completed a hat-trick of wins with another ready success, this time in a 10f handicap at Haydock, again proving strong at the finish as he came home 2 lengths to the good over Al Bussayir. He has been hit with an 8lbs rise for that victory in what is a much deeper race, but he is a fast-improving colt who looked to have plenty in hand last time; stable famed for its success in this race (particularly when it was known as the Extel Handicap) and difficult to rule their representative out completely.
Brian Meehan’s Madeed is a son of Nayef who built on his debut promise to land a 1m maiden here last autumn, but he was a well-beaten sixth behind True Story in the 1m 1f Listed Feilden Stakes at Newmarket’s Craven meeting on his return to action. However, he turned in a much improved effort when an eyecatching seventh in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot a couple of months later, staying on well to take second in the far side group. His finishing effort that day suggested a step up to 10f would suit well, and the form of that race has already been working out well; sure to prove competitive from the same mark.
The Richard Hannon-trained Pupil put behind him a disappointing debut effort to land a 1m maiden at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting last September, and he found only the fast-finishing Pinzolo too good for him in a traditionally strong 1m conditions event at Newbury the following week. He found Group 3/Listed company too much to handle either side of the winter break before failing to land a blow in the Britannia, but he shaped a lot better when staying on strongly from a fair way back to take second behind the very promising Sea Defence back at Ascot last time. He shaped that day as though worth another try at this trip, looking somewhere close to his best; claims from the same mark here, for all one or two others may prove better treated.
The Mark Johnston-trained Rainbow Rock is a nicely-bred son of Rock Of Gibraltar who shaped well on all three occasions in maiden company at two (didn’t always finish off his races), but he proved a costly failure on his first three outings of the current campaign, albeit raced too keenly in blinkers the time before last at Musselburgh. He was gelded afterwards and duly got off the mark with an authoritative win in a 10f handicap at Beverley 10 days ago, tracking the leaders and leading over a furlong out, soon in full control and staying on strongly to score by 3¼ lengths. This obviously requires a good deal more, but he is a well-related sort who has always promised to do better than he has shown so far and very likely the gelding operation will help him fulfil that potential; interesting contender despite racing from out of the weights.
The James Bethell-trained Braidley showed useful form at two, accounting for Master Carpetener when landing a 7f nursery at Doncaster last September, and he has run with credit in defeat so far this term, no match for potentially smart pair Wannabe Yours and Pretzel in 1m handicaps at Doncaster and Ayr last month. He was far from disgraced when sixth of 18 to Bronze Angel when taking on his elders in a 1m handicap at York earlier this month, taking a while to get going but putting in some decent late work; interesting now upped in trip and sure to give it his best shot once again, but also very likely that he remains vulnerable to improvers back in his own age group.
Michael Appleby’s Donny Rover endured a busy two-year-old campaign in which his limitations were largely exposed, but he is yet another that has found a new lease of life with this stable, making a winning return to action at Nottingham and since posting some very creditable efforts in defeat, including when splitting progressive pair Connecticut and Arabian Comet (with subsequent dual winner Penhill back in fourth) in a 10f handicap at York last month. His latest effort saw him staying on well to take fourth behind Sea Defence (and the re-opposing Pupil) in a 1m handicap at Ascot, suggesting a return to this trip may well suit; sure to give another good account of himself.
The Charlie Hills-trained Arable stepped up on a couple of muted efforts at two to chase home the smart Arab Spring on his return to action in a 10f maiden at Kempton in March, but he ran no sort of race on soft ground when tailed off behind Melrose Abbey in a 10f maiden at Chepstow in May. He bounced back with a respectable third place finish behind Wannabe Yours in a 1m maiden at Nottingham and got off the mark in a 1m handicap at Haydock a couple of weeks ago, waited with and making good progress over two furlongs out, forging clear inside the final furlong to score by 6 lengths from Starlight Serenade. He has been hit with a 10lbs rise for that and this is quite clearly a much stronger contest, but he can boast some solid maiden form and is still very much unexposed in this sphere; dangerous to dismiss.