GLORIOUS GOODWOOD: Irish star is Rock solid to take Goodwood Cup

There was no Frankie fairytale to mark the 200th anniversary of the Goodwood Cup as Saddler’s Rock won the prized trophy for Ireland with a sweet act of revenge.

In this milestone year for one of Goodwood’s most famous races, many wanted to see that Darling of the Downs, Frankie Dettori, follow his Ascot Gold Cup win on Colour Vision by completing a notable double then celebrating with a trademark flying discount.

But it wasn’t to be as the John Oxx-trained Saddler’s Rock - who Colour Vision had beaten into third in the Ascot showpiece - turned in a strong performance under Johhny Murtagh to take the day’s £100,000 big race. And this time it was Colour Vision who had to be content with third.

Saddler’s went off 2/1 favourite but it was Chiberta King and Electrolyser who made the early running and headed the field for longer than expected.

But Saddler’s Rock had plenty in the tank and won by a length from the strong-finishing Askar Tau, ridden by George Baker.

A delighted Murtagh, who won the Goodwood Cup on the much-loved Yeats in 2008, said: “We thought it was going to be a big year for this horse and it didn’t start great in Ascot, but thankfully he redeemed himself today. He’s a lovely little stayer and he’s got that turn of foot, especially on this ground.

“He’s not very big but he’s all heart and very straightforward and he’s improving all the time. When you’re riding nice horses like this it makes it easy.”

Oxx, based at the Curragh, was pleased to win a key Goodwood contest for Ireland, especially as its 200th birthday was being marked. It was his first-ever win at Goodwood, although has had few runners on the Downs.

He said: “It’s a nice race to win. It’s a great old race with a lot of tradition and history, so we’re delighted to be here to win it with such a nice horse.

“Not just one thing went wrong at Ascot, three or four things went wrong. If only one thing had gone wrong he might still have won, so we thought he was a bit unlucky on the day. That is no disrespect to the winner, who ran very well again today.

“We feel that race was the one that got away, but today we rode him more prominently, there was a nice even pace and we took no chances.

“He’s a quiet horse with a great temperament. He’s lazy enough in his work and it’s a little hard to get him going early in the season, which is why he probably came on a bit from his Ascot run.

“It was out of character for him to pull so hard in the Gold Cup as he’s generally got a relaxed style of racing and he’s an ideal Cup horse.

“He waits for the crack of the whip and then when he gets the crack, off he goes and he can use that turn of foot.

“We’ll keep him at these sorts of races. He’ll probably go for the Lonsdale Cup at York next and then we’ll see about the Doncaster Cup again. The Prix du Cadran will be ideal for him.”

Marcus Tregoning was delighted with the effort of Askar Tau and said: “He could have done with an extra half a furlong, but it was still a good run and he’ll go for the Lonsdale Cup next (at York).”

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said Colour Vision had not handled the course as well as they had hoped.

But he added: “He didn’t stop trying and it was a good effort. If he doesn’t go to York, he’ll go to Doncaster (Doncaster Cup).”