Goodwood’s August Festival has been as unpredictable as it has been successful - and Eve Johnson Houghton will confirm that for anyone who doubts it.
Thousands have flocked to the racecourse for three days of top-class action on the track and entertainment based on an old-fashioned British seaside holiday.
The racing has been tough to call - as 20/1 outsider Premio Loco’s win in Saturday’s Betfair Celebration Mile on Saturday showed.
Sunday was no easier for punters who may have thought that if Johnson Houghton was going to get a winner it would be with The Cheka in the feature Greene King Supreme Stakes.
The Cheka went off 11/4 favourite for the Group 3 prize over seven furlongs after placing at the top level in both the July Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest.
He was give a positive ride by Neil Callan but no-one works the tricky Sussex track better than Richard Hughes and he came with a sweeping late run on Producer (7-2) to finish half a length up close home.
Johnson Houghton did bounce back in the next when Catchanova (9/2) made all the running in the Anglo-Irish Stakes.
She said of The Cheka: “I’m so disappointed - not in him - but for him as he deserves to win a big race. He was in front for a long time and was there to be shot at and there was Richard Hughes. He’ll go for the big sprint at Ascot on Champions Day now.”
Hughes and Richard Hannon landed the same race a year ago with Libranno, while the trainer also provided the 2009 winner Ordnance Row.
Producer had been seen to best effect at Epsom so far, the scene of all his four previous wins, but the different cambers brought about a similar level of performance.
“He jumped a bit awkwardly and he slipped on the bend, so it took me 100 yards to get him balanced,” said Hughes. “It just sort of happened that he’s run so many times at Epsom. He can be lazy at home but he lights up on the track.”
Johnson Houghton had drawn a fine jockey in Richard Harding for Catchanova as he showed his expertise in the amateur riders’ handicap run in the memory of the late Gay Kindersley.
“You don’t choose the jockey and sometimes what you tell them isn’t what they hear, but he rode him brilliantly,” the trainer said.
George Baker - winner on Premio Loco 24 hours earlier - delivered another of his specials on Scottish Glen (7-1) in the San Rossore Turf Club Handicap.
Amanda Perrett’s Blue Surf (7-2), who shaped well on his previous visit to the course at Glorious Goodwood, was on the board under Pat Dobbs in the Greene King Handicap while Alan Jarvis’ Navajo Charm caused a 20-1 upset in the Alan Morcombe Birthday Selling Stakes.
The Greene King Handicap, went to Bravo Echo (10-1) for Epsom trainer Michael Attwater.
See the Observer on Thursday for reports and pictures from the three days.