Rory Delargy previews Day 1 of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
1:50 Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap
“You’ve got to be drawn low at Goodwood” is an expression I’ve heard far too often, and it tends not to be borne out by the facts, particularly when no differentiation is made about the trips used, and the fact that various trips beyond 7f use a different bend alignment into the straight. Bend alignment is one of the most important factors in the effect of the draw and yet is not studied at all. Over this trip, the innermost three stalls have the worst record, and the stalls producing the greatest percentage of winners and placed horses are 14-16. The issue is often complicated by the fact that jockeys coming from high draws often try to overcome the perceived bias by taking back and heading to the rail, which rarely works. If everyone simply rode to their draw, then the bias would be even greater.
Ideally, I would look for one drawn high with a forward-going nature, and ideally a jockey with a deal of success at the track. I’ve nailed my colours to the Dark Red mast ante-post, and am happy enough with last year’s first past the post, but would be happy to add Rainbow Rebel to the portfolio from a high draw in 14. Mark Johnston’s gelding is seemingly too high in the weights, but this race is often more about getting an ideal run than being ahead of the handicapper, and he has the perfect run-style for the contest, and the fact that his stable, whose horses tend to have a similar monus operandi, has won this race six times since 2000 is not a coincidence.
- Recommended: Back Dark Red to win @ 10.0 or bigger
- Recommended: Back Rainbow Rebel to win @ 11.0 or bigger
2:25 Qatar Vintage Stakes
This is not an easy race to get involved in given most are unexposed at the trip, and most need to improve to be considered worthy of their place at this level. I’d not be playing heavily, but I am inclined to oppose impressive Haydock winner Drogon in the place market. When he won there, Drogon got the run of the race, with an odds-on favourite flopping, and the pair who chased him home have been beaten in ordinary company subsequently. He won by a wide margin, and in a good time, and that must not be understated, but he did so on home solid (Dascombe and Kingscote have an enviable record at Haydock), and without having to deal with a serious challenge at any point. He could bounce out and make all again, so I don’t want to lay him at double figures, and horses with his profile are often worth opposing at short odds in the place market. We don’t know how he would cope with competition for the lead, and if he heads to the far rail, he could be a sitting duck for the closers.
- Recommended: Lay Drogon for a place @ 3.25 or shorter
3:00 Qatar Lennox Stakes
I can’t make head nor tail of the Lennox, but what is particularly surprising is the price of Karar, and the French-trainer 4-y-o has a big chance on the form of his close third in the Group 1 Prix de La Foret over this trip at Chantilly in October. He wasn’t beaten far in the Breeders’ Cup Mile subsequently, despite the worst of the draw, finishing on the heels of Suedois, and yet he’s trading at almost four times that rival’s price despite the fact that his connections have stumped up a supplementary entry fee for him. His drift may be explainable, and I may end up with egg on my face, but I think it’s worth backing him on the basis that his price is out of line with his claims on form, and he looks a trading opportunity.
- Recommended: Back Karar @ 25.0 or bigger
- Recommended: Lay Karar @ 9.0 or shorter (to same stake)
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