@helynsar is hoping to finish Goodwood on a high note, and the Derby runner-up can beat his Gordon Stakes rivals if ridden aggressively
1:50 Qatar Stewards’ Sprint Handicap
Lots of runners here, but it’s perhaps not as competitive as it might be, and plenty come here with a bit to prove. Oeil de Tigre has never really had pretensions to win the Stewards’ Cup, and he would normally be plying his trade a rung or two down the ladder, but he has been in excellent form this summer, and handles this track exceptionally well as a record of three wins from as many runs at the course would suggest. Amazingly, that is as many Goodwood victories as the rest of the field have managed combined, and the combination of being in form and suited perfectly by conditions makes him of interest. My feeling is that he will have his winning sequence at the track ended, but it’s not hard to see him in there pitching, and he appeals as a place-only punt in an otherwise unexciting opener.
The others who are of interest are all towards the head of the market, and perhaps Golden Steps, who was back to form over a trip too short last time, and is a previous winner of this race (his only run here, incidentally), has most going for him.
- Recommended: Back Oeil de Tigre to be placed @ 4.5 or bigger (2pts liability)
2:25 Qatar Summer Handicap
An almost unfeasibly large percentage of the runners in this staying handicap want to lead, and much will depend on which are ridden to type and which see tactics altered. It’s a safe(ish) bet that the pace will be an honest one at least, and that should mean class comes to the fore. It’s often assumed that a strong pace from the outset will mean that late closers will come to the fore, but that often isn’t the case. A lot of horses who are labelled as “hold-up horses” are simply lacking in early pace or habitual slow starters, and while some of them are at their best coming off a strong pace, others are immediately in trouble when unable to go the early gallop. Some hold-up horses have a genuine turn of foot and are ridden to preserve it, and some are one-paced and in need of an end-to-end gallop in order to produce their best. Goodwood is a track where the leaders can go too fast, and is no place for short runners, but it’s a pretty awful track for plodders, too, and the best thing to look for is a horse with enough tactical speed to take a good position and avoid the inevitable traffic, and with the ability to pass others late in the race.
Platitude fits the bill as a strong traveller who is tactically versatile, and capable of quickening off a slow pace at this trip, but equally at home chasing a strong gallop. He’s won two from three on a sound surface at this track, including when snapping a losing run on debut for Amanda Perrett. That was his first run after a breathing operation and he ran well in a listed race at Sandown last time. He should appreciate the drop back in trip with pace to aim at, and looks overpriced. Amanda Perrett had a gambled-on winner at her local track yesterday, and the selection makes plenty of appeal in both the win and place markets.
- Recommended: Back Platitude win & place @ 11.0 & 3.6 or bigger (2pts liability)
3:00 Qatar Gordon Stakes
The initial reaction to seeing Dee Ex Bee is to look for a way to take him on, but careful consideration suggests he’s been allowed to become too big a price here, and he’s the clear pick on the form of his Derby second. That run certainly doesn’t flatter him, and the key to him is being able to utilise his big stride. He handles the contours of this track well, winning on debut here last year, and while he would prefer some give in the ground, it’s not essential. He’s struggled to express himself in tactical races for the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris on his last two starts, and it is probably important for him to have plenty of space to operate in. Connections are aware of his inability to quicken instantly now, and it would come as a surprise if Silvestre de Sousa didn’t allow him to take an early lead, and while this is effectively a trial for the St Leger, you’d like to think that a confidence-boosting win would be the main priority.
- Recommended: Back Dee Ex Bee @ 3.25 or bigger (2pts liability)