GLORIOUS GOODWOOD: Elsworth and Hannon head bids for day-one honours

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The opening day of Glorious Goodwood, Tuesday, July 26, has attracted excellent fields for all seven races and the Group Three bet365 Gordon Stakes (2.35pm) looks a particularly strong renewal.

There were 11 three-year-olds declared to run in the 12-furlong contest including five who are entered in the final Classic of the British season, the St Leger at Doncaster in September, Dordogne, Fiorente, Namibian, Slumber and Well Sharp.

However, the one with the best form figures going into the race is outsider Highland Castle who is seeking a hat-trick.

His victories have come in a Windsor 10-furlong maiden in June and a bet365-sponsored Haydock handicap over 12 furlongs last time out on July 2. The Halling gelding only made his debut at the start of June when third in a Sandown Park maiden.

Highland Castle’s trainer David Elsworth commented today: “I’m pedalling the bike a bit fast with him as I should really have gone for another handicap off 93.

“But the Goodwood handicap he is in (the UBS Handicap on Wednesday) looks like it will have plenty of runners.

“Highland Castle is doing everything right but this is a big step-up for him. I trained his mother (Reciprocal) and I am a great Halling fan.

“This horse is a good prospect but he has to take on Fiorente, who was second to Nathaniel at Royal Ascot, and others who should run well so we will have to see how he gets on.”

Well Sharp, trained by Michael Dods for owner Andrew Tinkler, is another likely outsider in the Group Three race which is a good St Leger trial.

The owner’s racing manager Tim Jones said today: “Well Sharp ran a cracking race to finish third in the King George V Handicap (won by Brown Panther) at Royal Ascot from an appalling draw over a mile and half.

“We then dropped him back to 10 furlongs at Newmarket and he ran well to be fifth but it looks like a mile and a half or further later in the season suits him.

“The Gordon Stakes looks hugely competitive and a proper St Leger trial. Well Sharp is in great form and is very progressive physically. Andrew wanted to go for the race rather than another handicap to find out how good he is.”

The feature race on Tuesday is the bet365 Lennox Stakes (3.10pm) over seven furlongs and the Group Two contest is going to be a fascinating clash between three three-year-olds, led by the Richard Hannon-trained pair of Strong Suit and Libranno, and six older horses headed by Godolphin’s Delegator, dropping back from Group One company, and Red Jazz from Barry Hills’ yard.

The other Group race on the card is the bet365 Molecomb Stakes (3.45pm) for two-year-olds over five furlongs. The Group Three event has attracted 14 runners including Boris Grigoriev from champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s stables.

The opening bet365.com Handicap (2pm) has a maximum field of 18, while the Poker At bet365 Handicap (4.50pm) also has a full complement of 20 runners. The other races on the card are the two-year-old six-furlong maiden, the Casino At bet365 EBF Assertive Maiden (4.20pm), which has attracted 13 declared runners, and the 19-strong five-furlong Mobile At bet365 Handicap (5.25pm) which concludes the action.

* Sunday has been a dry, largely sunny, day at Goodwood and the going at the moment is Good, Good to soft in places.

Seamus Buckley, Goodwood’s Clerk of the Course, said this afternoon: “We have had a dry 36 hours and I expect to change the going description to Good tomorrow which means we will start Glorious Goodwood with perfect going on Tuesday.

“There is the possibility of a shower tomorrow evening, otherwise it is predicted to be dry for at least the first part of the week.”