Goodwood: English Rain? Courage Mon Ami

Courage Mon Ami |


While the 2023 English summer staggers on in dour misery, Britain looks to the Qatar Goodwood Festival which in terms of the weather is a far cry from its prior “Glorious Goodwood” standing but in terms of thoroughbred quality is up there with any of its counterparts. This week, we get to see the Royal Ascot heroes Courage Mon Ami (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}) and the likes of Blue Rose Cen (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) and Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}), to name a few. If the rain that presaged the action at Ascot last week continues, soft-ground specialists will be the order of each day with the opening fixture set to take place on good-to-soft, soft in places.

That makes the G1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup even more of a stamina test than usual, which should be no hindrance to Wathnan Racing's Gold Cup hero Courage Mon Ami given how strongly he saw out that race over a further half a mile. Pointed here instead of the same connections' 3-year-old option Gregory (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}), the Gosdens' unbeaten representative has experience of this tricky circuit having won a handicap here in May.

“John [Gosden] was keen to train both him and Gregory for the race and soft ground or probable soft ground swayed the decision towards running Courage Mon Ami, while Gregory will now take a different route, with his main aim being the St Leger,” the owners' racing adviser Richard Brown said. “He's back in trip, but he won there impressively before the Gold Cup and we know he handles the track. I don't think it will be a problem coming back to two miles, it was always the question before Ascot if he would he stay two and a half.”

Fourth here last year, Mick and Janice Mariscotti's Coltrane (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) is back an improved horse and has just 3/4 of a length to turn around with Courage Mon Ami from the Gold Cup. Oisin Murphy believes the high-class veteran has conditions in his favour to do so. “All the signs at home are positive and I think this two miles will suit him better than the two and a half at Ascot,” he said. “I don't think the quick ground was a problem in the Gold Cup as he obviously let himself down on it, but we know from his past form that he enjoys some dig in the ground, so that's a plus for him.”

Also helped by the rain is Ballydoyle's Emily Dickinson (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), who bounced out of the Gold Cup in which she was fourth to win last Sunday's G2 Curragh Cup. “She loved the ease in the ground at the Curragh,” Aidan O'Brien said. “She comes out of races on fast ground perfectly, which suggests it does not bother her, but she appears much better with an ease in the ground.” In a deep renewal, the first four home from the G2 Yorkshire Cup re-oppose with the winner Giavellotto (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) a fresh horse and the runner-up Eldar Eldarov (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) back on a more suitable surface after flopping in the Gold Cup.

Marco Botti is hoping that Giavellotto can repay the resisted temptation to run at the Royal meeting. “He won well at York and it has always been the plan to skip the Gold Cup at Ascot and go to Goodwood,” he said. “He is well and his prep has gone to plan, we think he is fit and he looks in good order. We know he stays and we're looking forward to it. Two miles is not an issue, but we felt the Ascot Gold Cup may have stretched him a little bit. He settles well and he looks a stronger horse than last year. I just worry about the ground, I hope it will be nice ground for everyone and not extremes. Good-to-soft would be what he wants.”

All Boxes Ticked For Kinross…
Also on Tuesday is the G2 World Pool Lennox S., the next in the sequence of seven-furlong features which have been enhanced in recent years and which now provide a welcome narrative throughout the season. One of the finest in this category is Marc Chan's TDN Rising Star Kinross (GB) (Kingman {GB}), who has the rain and return to the trip over which he is most comfortable to suit. He also has Frankie Dettori back on board, with the partnership temporarily ruptured by a spurious riding ban in the G1 July Cup in which the high-class gelding again showed his versatility to be third. Having beaten Creative Force (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Space Blues (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in 2021, he was an unlucky second 12 months ago so this is clearly his bag. “There is no doubt this is his best distance,” Chan's racing manager Jamie McCalmont said of the Ralph Beckett yard's stalwart, who is set to be an integral part of Dettori's farewell tour. “He likes the course and he's justifiably the favourite, even though that doesn't mean he will win the race.”

Of this year's 3-year-olds, Wathnan Racing's G3 Greenham S. winner and G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains runner-up Isaac Shelby (GB) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) looks tailor-made for this after finishing fourth on ground that was too fast in the G1 St James's Palace S. at Royal Ascot. “He's back to seven and hopefully that will see him in his best light,” Richard Brown said. “He got lit up and things didn't really go to plan at Ascot. I'm not trying to use an excuse and saying he would have won there, but back in trip and back in grade here, he should be thereabouts.”

Revived by a gelding operation last year, Cheveley Park Stud's TDN Rising Star Audience (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}) showed what he is capable of when making all in Newmarket's G3 Criterion S. and the stud's Chris Richardson is hoping he can back that up. “This race is the natural progression really and he came out of the Newmarket race well. He has not been straightforward, but gelding seems to have worked and we are now seeing what we were seeing on the gallops but not on the racecourse. It was just one of those rather frustrating things, but it was lovely to see him bounce back and follow up the previous win with such an emphatic success.”

Is Iberian Of The Right Vintage?
In the G2 Nicholson Gin Vintage S., Teme Valley and Ballylinch Stud's Newbury novice scorer Iberian (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) is one of the less-exposed types who was spared the beating by City Of Troy (Justify) that the Hannon stable's solid yardstick Haatem (Ire) (Phoenix Of Spain {Ire}) had to endure in the G2 Superlative S. Richard Ryan, racing manager for Teme Valley, said of the former, “We're hopeful we have a nice horse and this race will answer a lot of questions. He is an impressive horse at home and Charlie [Hills] is having a great season with his two-year-olds.”
“He looks to have a number of promising horses, so we are in the slightly excited camp until proven otherwise,” Ryan added. “Although it is probably going to be wet at Goodwood, it's unwatered and well maintained for this meeting and probably with it being the first day, it won't have the same issues the July Course had at the time with conditions in the pouring rain.”

One of the eyecatchers of the Royal Ascot 2-year-old events was Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum's Golden Mind (Ire) (Galileo Gold {GB}), a half-brother to the fellow Richard Fahey-trained star Perfect Power (Ire) (Ardad {Ire}) who was finishing to real effect when third in the Listed Chesham S. over this seven-furlong trip. He gets the Dettori treatment and Fahey has a special wish. “He's a horse that is improving the whole time, he's a bit of a laid-back character and with racing he's going to get better,” his trainer said. “He's in good order and I would love Frankie to ride me a winner before he retires, he's a legend.”

Paddington Set For Select Sussex…
Only five will take on this season's sensation Paddington in Wednesday's G1 Qatar Sussex S., the feature race of the meeting, with the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas, G1 St James's Palace S. and G1 Eclipse S. hero scaring off much opposition. One who hasn't been spared is Cheveley Park Stud's G1 Fillies' Mile, G1 Coronation S. and G1 Prix Jacques le Marois heroine Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}), while soft ground means that Shadwell at least have an outside chance of another surprise with the William Haggas-trained Aldaary (GB) (Territories {Ire}).

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