Trainer David Griffiths was overjoyed at 8/1 chance Take Cover’s pillar-to-post victory in the Group 2 £300,000 Qatar King George Stakes – two years after he won the same race.
The nine-year-old clearly loves this five-furlong contest – the gelding’s two wins in the race have been either side of a runners-up spot last year, when he finished a head behind Muthmir.
It was the highlight of another absorbing day on the Downs - and one when better-performing favourites meant the bookies were also taking cover.
Unlike Ladies’ Day, the rain stayed away and another huge crowd lapped up the action, which included four Group races and the £150,000 Betfred Mile.
In the King George, the son of Singspiel had a host of horses queuing up to challenge him as the field thundered towards the winning line – but he stuck his neck out well to record a famous neck victory.
Griffiths couldn’t quite believe how much his horse loves Goodwood after the race. “It’s unbelievable - he loves it here,” said the trainer. “I am almost speechless. Take Cover is still as good as ever at nine.
“He is obviously a bit mad although he has calmed down a lot as he has got older. On the track now we seem to have it spot on now with the blind off as soon the gates open. After the Nunthorpe debacle, we had to do something a bit different.
“I am over the moon today. We came in with as much confidence as you can have in a Group 2. I thought he was in really good form.
“To the owners, staff and everyone involved it is just one of those amazing days.
“The first win (in the Qatar King George Stakes in 2014) was amazing and his defeat last year was a bit gutting but he’s come right back to his best here. The ground is lovely and quick.
“Someone called me yesterday saying ‘it’s absolutely hammering down at Goodwood’ and I thought our chance may have gone. I think it was the fog though and they’d got confused!”
It was a first Goodwood win for jockey David Allan, who said: “Even if he is not going downhill he is always going very fast. He is just a pure speedball. If you fight him, you are not going to win anyway. He can sustain his pace all the way to the finish. It is the size of him and the fact he can go so quick because he is so powerful. He just has raw power.
“He battles extremely well when something comes to him. Even though he is going a good lick, he actually digs in at the finish. His main trait is his speed but he does just dig in and battle.”
The Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old Washington DC (8/1) was an excellent second under Moore.
The son of Zoffany stayed on well inside the final furlong but was unable to get past nine-year-old Take Cover who scored by a neck.
M V Magnier, a son of owner John Magnier, said: “You have to teach these horses how to sprint properly and when they are against those older horses it is a situation where three-year-olds will tend to improve from a race like that.”
Trainer Michael Bell and owner Bill Gredley completed a notable double as the well-backed Franklin D (7/4 favourite) was the head winner of the Betfred Mile Handicap, adding to the success of Big Orange in the Qatar Goodwood Cup.
Franklin D was drawn in stall one and travelled along the inside rail throughout the mile contest. In the home straight, the three-year-old colt struggled to get a clear run and was hemmed in approaching the final furlong.
However, once Ryan Moore found daylight on the colt, he quickened up well and held on gamely from the fast-finishing Master The World to land a major gamble.
Bell said: “A lot of people backed him so there was pressure on that front but I always believed in the horse and arguably we had the world’s best jockey so we ticked all the boxes. The man who did the draw at Weatherby’s very kindly gave us stall 1 so everything slotted into place.
“Ryan said he had to use quite a bit of early gas to hold his position early on and that was why he had slightly less energy at the end as he used up a little bit more in the first furlong and that counted in the last furlong and nearly cost him.
“Ryan has ridden him beautifully and produced him beautifully so it couldn’t have gone any better. This is a very hard track to ride and they went very fast.
“Franklin D looked as though he was going to win easily but in the last 100 yards he was just coming to the end of his tether but he lasted to the winning line.”
Gredley, the winning owner, was delighted to follow up Big Orange’s success with victory with Franklin D. He said: “We have won two good races. Most people would just like to win one race like this so it is amazing to win these two races.
“Horse racing is horse racing. You have good and bad days and you enjoy the good ones as they compensate the bad. I’ve got 25 horses at the moment.”
The victory took Moore to the head of the Racing UK Top Jockey table for the Qatar Goodwood Festival on five winners.
“You had to wait for it to happen,” said Moore. “We were in front but then got tested early on. We were five or six deep and I had to take a sit. When the gap came I thought he was going to win very well but he just got tired, probably because we did a bit of damage early on.”
At the start of day four, the well-backed 5/2 favourite Kings Fete, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, ran out a three-quarter length winner of the Group 3 Betfred Glorious Stakes.
Ridden by Moore, the son of King’s Best always travelled well throughout the one mile and four furlong contest and despite taking a while to respond to Moore’s urgings in the final furlong, kept on resolutely to master the long-time leader Ayrad and score comfortably.
Stoute, registering his second winner of the week following Ulysses’ victory in the BeringIce Gordon Stakes and his 73rd winner at Glorious, said: “Kings Fete was pretty smart today. He got an injury in the 2014 St Leger and Rory Mahon and his team at Ferrans Stud did a great job and sent him back in supreme condition.
“He didn’t run from September, 2014 until May this year. It was a long, slow and steady rehabilitation. He is much more relaxed now - he was a bit on it as a youngster. He’ll be a nice horse.”
Thikriyaat had to negotiate a tricky passage in the home straight of the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes and jockey Paul Hanagan had to wait a long time for a gap to appear before the pair could make their winning run in the final furlong.
The 9/4 favourite responded well to his rider’s urgings though and battled well to get past stablemate Forge in the dying strides to record a comfortable half-length success.
Thikriyaat’s trainer, Stoute, celebrating a quickfire double, was quick to praise the gelding’s consistency and versatility.
“He’s very tough and consistent,” said Stoute, who reinforced his position as the leading current trainer at Goodwood. “He’s an admirable horse. I think he’s good at a mile and could get even further. I didn’t think there was much between this one and Forge.
“He was very effective at seven furlongs as well. He’s very versatile and loves his racing. He’s just a very consistent hrose. He went well on this ground but I think ideally he’ll prefer a little bit of juice.
“I was a little concerned when I saw him boxed in, but then I thought the other one (Forge) would win so it wouldn’t have been a disastrous day! I think he’s won it well. He got there, had a look and then went on again. It was a good run.”
The final Group race of the day, the Group 3 L’Ormarins Queens Plate Stakes (Registered as The Oak Tree Stakes), brought more success for Al Shaqab Racing, headed by the festival’s headline sponsor Sheikh Joann, when his runner Al Jazi came in at 12/1 with French rider Gregory Benoist on board.
That race was preceded by a blue-and-white themed best-dressed-lady competition in association with L’Ormarins, won by Sarah Weston from Newmarket, who wins an all-expenses-paid trip to see the Queen’s Plate raceday at Kenilworth in South Africa.
The Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Nursery went to another of the week’s successful hjovkey-trainer partnerships, James McDonald and Charlie Appleby, who teamed up for the win on Godolphin’s Final Reckoning, the 9/2 favourite.
The last, the Betfred Mobile Stakes, went to Poet’s World, the 7/4 favourite, bringing yet another win for Moore and Stoute.
Saturday’s action is top-notch - it includes the week’s second Group 1, the Qatar Nassau Stakes, in which Minding will be the hot favourite, and the 28-runner cavalry charge they call the Qatar Stewards’ Cup.
See tips for all Saturday’s races, plus full coverage of the day, on this website on Saturday.
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