Battaash misses out - but The Queen has a winner at Glorious Goodwood
It wasn't to be for Battaash. His bid for a fifth straight King George Stakes title proved one too far.
The hero of Goodwood's festival Friday of recent years was well beaten as he went for a win that would have equalled the record for British racing of one horse winning the same group race five years in a row.
He'll still be a legend in the eyes of the Goodwood crowd, who remember all his speedy victories in this race vividly, but there's no denying this was a disappointment - just a few days after soft ground denied Stradivarius the chance to win his Glorious race, the Goodwod Cup, for the fifth straight year.
Now the Goodwood punters will be wondering if they've seen the last of both Stradivarius and Battaash. If so, their achievements will live for many years in people's memories.
Conditions were not in Battaash's favour with ground on the soft side and the wind whistling around the course and the King George honours went to 7/1 shot Suesa, with the week's top rider William Buick on board.
Battaash’s trainer Charlie Hills said: “He had a good trip, really. There was a lot of pace on this side of the track but he came into the race travelling nice and strong. He probably didn’t really handle the ground as well as he could have done.
“We were happy [coming into the race]. He was doing everything we have done in the past few years, so there was no difference, really. I was just a little bit concerned about the going here today. We will see how he comes out of the race, speak to the management and Sheikha Hissa, and decide where to go forward.”
Crowley added: “The ground was probably slow enough for him. He owes us nothing and is not getting any younger. He travelled well early and showed plenty of enthusiasm. Even cantering down, I thought the going was slow enough. We’ll have a regroup and see what everybody wants to do. They don’t get quicker as they get older.”
It was a win for France as Suesa ran away with the showpiece event on day four of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Run over five furlongs, it was the three-year-old filly (7/1) who made it five wins from six career starts, with her only defeat so far coming in the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month.
Trained by Francois Rohaut, Suesa was covered up early on by Buick but, as the gaps appeared, she quickened smartly to register a commanding three-length victory over fellow three-year-old Dragon Symbol (5/2). Glass Slippers (22/1) was a further length and a half back in third while Battaash finished seventh.
Buick was registering a sixth win at this year’s festival to move clear in the Leading Jockey standings.
James Wigan, racing manager to owner George Strawbridge, said: “We thought Suesa was very good before Ascot. Then the rains came and the ground was bottomless and she just could not act on it. William looked after her then. What she did in France was very impressive before. We didn’t know what she’d be like against these, but we knew she was pretty good.
“There are not really any sprint races in France in the summer, so this was really the only place to come, but I was concerned about this rain!"
Buick said: “Suesa is an absolute sweetheart. It was an amazing performance. She travelled through the race strongly and once she got into it, she had that strong kick at the finish. She was very impressive, and she has a great attitude to go with it.
“She looked good in France before the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. The ground was bad that day and it was over six furlongs, and she had no cover. I learnt a lot about her that day. She’s full of speed. She came back to five furlongs today and travelled so smoothly. She was hard on the bridle the whole way and she has that good kick at the finish."
“Mr Rohaut was adamant that she was in good shape, and he was right. She’s quite strong to sit on, she’s all there and she moves like a real sprinter. She’s a lovely filly.”
Before Battaash missed out, Crowley was having a better day, with a big race double.
Mark Johnston continued his love affair with the Unibet Golden Mile when winning the race for the sixth time with Maydanny. The Middleham trainer has regularly found the key to this ultra-competitive mile handicap, one of the toughest puzzles to solve each year at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Johnston won the race for the first time in 1997.
Maydanny (8/1) enjoyed a clean run up the far side rail in the closing stages to prevail by a length and three-quarters from Rhoscolyn (13/2). In a race dominated by those drawn low, Escobar (12/1) was a neck further back in third, with Johan (15/2) fourth.
Jockey Crowley, along with owner Shadwell, were following up the earlier success of Baaeed in the G3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes.
Johnston said: “This was another horse who we had reservations about on the ground, but he did it well. Maydanny loves Goodwood and goes well here. He had a few traffic problems, but responded well to that and picked up really well. It’s a great result. Jim could have come wide but instead went for the gaps on the rail and it worked out well.”
There was an upbeat start to the day when one of Goodwood's favourite sons, Richard Hughes, who rode so many great Glorious winners when he was a jockey, enjoyed his first festival winner as a trainer when Pat Dobbs guided Calling The Wind - surely the most appropriately named horse of the day - home first at 8/1 in the longest race of the week, the Unibet 3 Boosts A Day Goodwood Handicap.
There were lovely scenes in the winner's enclosure as Hughes' young family watched him pick up the trophy.
The former champion jockey enjoyed much success at the meeting and was famous for his coolness in the saddle. Dobbs did a good impression of Hughes in the marathon race over an extended two and a half miles, travelling confidently into the race and producing Calling The Wind (8/1) at just the right time.
The five-year-old had enough in reserve once hitting the front, holding off top-weight Withhold (16/1), Elysian Flame (13/2 co-fav) and Green Book (17/2), who all shared a photo for second place.
Hughes said: “Brilliant, I watched it on the owner’s phone. I went out to the front and there is no big screen [because of the wind] and I was tempted to run in, but decided what will be, will be. Luckily, it went well all the way round.
“I was confident after Ascot, if Calling The Wind can reproduce with the same conditions – two mile, four furlongs in a handicap, not a conditions race. I thought it would be trainer error if I couldn’t get him here in the same condition as at Ascot.
“Calling The Wind is easy at home. Laura’s been riding him lately and Tyler, but we went into the unknown at Ascot, we didn’t know if he’d stay, and he showed something he hadn’t shown before. Pat settled him lovely and he got a good run round. Pat gave him a great ride and has been a friend of mine for years.
“It is just so unique here, the best horse does not always win. Tactically, a good jockey can make better decisions than others. I just think it is so exciting and it is such a beautiful setting. I just don’t want to see anyone go four wide, if they do they won’t ride for me again! I’d rather be unlucky than not go the shortest route and be exposed four wide.
“I knew he’d a big chance and I wanted to feel the atmosphere out in the stands. The heart was thumping, it is the worst feeling in the world! Worse than riding Canford Cliffs in the Sussex. It is worse if they run bad – you feel like the worse liar in the world, you are trying so hard. It is really a relief, I really fancied him, we brought the family and you don’t bring them for nothing.
“Owner Richard Diaz has been a great supporter, he has a few horses with me. When they run so well at Ascot, I feel it is trainer error if you can’t get them here in the same condition. Calling The Wind loves the extreme distances – he is a real bridle horse. We said after Ascot, here and then the Cesarewitch.”
Dobbs said: "It was push-button stuff today. He raced a bit keen in places, I was a bit worried, especially on this ground. He relaxed better when the pace quickened. He travelled super through the race, I didn't want to get there too soon.
"Hughsie's are always fresh, I don't know what he does to them, they are always a little bit edgy. He's got a lovely bunch of two-year-olds this year. I think he's going to have a really good year next year because they are going to make nice three-year-olds. He loves the course and the ground. Trip wise it doesn't really matter because he travels so well. Dropping back to a mile-and-a-half wouldn't be a problem."
Meanwhile Baaeed looks set for the top after outclassing his rivals and making it four wins from four starts in the G3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes.
Held up in the mile contest for three-year-olds, jockey Crowley only had to offer minor encouragement aboard the 2/5 favourite to stretch clear for an emphatic success. El Drama (11/1) was six and a half lengths back in second, with the pace-setting Tasman Bay (22/1) hanging on for third.
Baaeed, a son of Sea The Stars, only made his racecourse debut last month, and trainer William Haggas is now eyeing clashes with the best milers in Europe. Haggas said: “Baaeed keeps doing it. People keep saying he is running good times. He’s just a good horse.
“He’s sound, healthy and fast. If you look at him, he’s a full-brother to Hukum who stays one mile six furlongs and looking at him, he looks like he is faster than his pedigree suggests. We will stay at a mile for now.
“Baaeed is in three races – the Jacques Le Marois, the Celebration Mile back here and the Moulin. I would like to run in two of them. He started life on June 7 and it is now July 31. He has had four races and has been running in decent company against three-year-olds. It is time he took on the better ones in the bigger races.
“Whether we can go to the well again – because however easy they win, they have always had a race. We’ll see how he is. He’s in the races that he should be."
The L'Ormarins Queen's Plate Glorious Stakes was won by Passion And Glory (2/1F) for Oisin Murphy and trainer Saeed bin Suroor. The winner made every yard of the running to take the prize over 12 furlongs.
Euchen Glen (11/2) attempted to close Passion And Glory down racing up the middle of the track but could only get to within a neck of the winner at the line. In what was a thrilling finish, Fox Tal (25/1) outran his odds to take third, a further neck behind.
And bin Suroor said: “Passion And Glory's last three runs have shown his improvement and even today I said to Oisin about the ground, but he handled it well and it looks like the best ground for him. I always liked him. He had tiny problems that stopped him, but this year he is sound and is doing good from race to race.
“He is classy and from now on we will look for Group 1 races for him. I am now going to take him to Germany next month for the Group 1 at Baden-Baden. He just had small injuries. He would be ready to run but would then have a small injury, but he is sound this year. He wasn't really ready in Meydan [earlier in the year], but he has improved all the time since he has been back in Newmarket.”
Ever Given justified favouritism to win the Unibet Deposit £10 Get £40 Bonus Nursery Handicap over six furlongs. The Tom Dascombe-trained juvenile made it three wins from four starts and won in the style of an improving horse. The race developed up the stands’ rail, with jockey Danny Tudhope steering Ever Given (4/1 fav) to race nearest the crowd and stretch clear in the closing stages.
Jadhlaan (8/1) followed Ever Given through on the stands’ side, but the top-weight couldn’t match the winner’s finishing kick and was beaten two and three-quarter lengths at the line. Robjon (14/1) was a length further back in third.
Tudhope, celebrating a third winner at this year’s meeting, said: “It's always nice when you get something to aim at and I got a lovely tow into the race. Ever Given won over seven furlongs last time, so we were coming back in trip and got a little bit outpaced, but he came good two out. He picked up real nice and has done it well.
“He is three from four now, doing nothing wrong, and progressing nicely. He is a proper little two-year-old. He is better on soft ground, slower ground anyway, that helps him. It has been a good week. It is always great to get one winner, so three is a bonus."
There was a winner for Her Majesty The Queen in the final race on day four of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, as Wink Of An Eye won the TDN Australia Handicap. The improving William Haggas-trained three-year-old made it four wins on the bounce in the extended 11-furlong contest.
Ridden by Ryan Moore, Wink Of An Eye (11/4 fav) was produced to challenge a furlong from home and held on gamely as his rivals rallied close home. Front runner State Of Bliss (14/1) kept on well for second, ultimately going down by a neck, with Scampi (13/2) just a head behind in third.
In what was a good afternoon for punters, Wink Of An Eye was a fourth winning favourite on the penultimate day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Haggas said: “Wink Of An Eye is getting better, which is amazing because last year he was hopeless. This year he has matured and doesn't take much out of himself, which helps his progression.
"We took two things out that were between his legs and I think that's helped! He wasn't coltish, he just wasn't focused at all and it was marginal at one stage whether we needed to persevere with him. John [Warren] felt that we needed to cut him to give him a chance and luckily, he was right.
"He'll run in another handicap now. I think he'll get a mile and a half no problem, but the Queen has another one with us that will run over that trip, so we will have to separate them. Ryan [Moore] said the horse enjoyed the ground today. We ran him at Haydock where it was bottomless and he didn't enjoy that but they are getting through this ground alright.”
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