GRAEME Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) is on the hunt for winners on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood. What’s he got up his sleeve?
14:00 Goodwood | Channel 4
The first of five days of Goodwood is upon us and it opens as ever with a tricky handicap. Mark Johnston has a fantastic record at this meeting and often does well in handicaps. He won this race last season and I fancy him to do so again, and I believe he will do it with last year’s winner!
Sennockian Star won this race last season and I reckon he might just repeat the feat. A typical Johnston inmate he is battle hardened and no stranger to the race track. This will be his 51st career start and he’s been placed in nearly half of these. He thrives on his racing, and though he’s been relatively busy this year I expect him to get competitive again.
He’s following a similar path in to the race as he did last year, finishing unplaced in the John Smiths Cup at York both seasons and I expect the Johnston camp to have him at his peak for today. With bookmakers paying each way first four places I make him a solid each way bet at 11/1.
14:35 Goodwood | Channel 4
The Vintage Stakes is a Group 2 race for two year olds run over seven furlongs. A field of nine line up and it looks like a wide open race.
Birchwood is the favourite here after winning the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and looks a classy sort. I can however see reasons for opposing him here. He encountered soft ground once before and didn’t seem to enjoy it, and I’m not sure he’ll like it here. He also has a 3lb penalty for his Group 2 win which makes life hard. I’m prepared to take him on.
The two I like here are the unexposed Ibn Malik and Strong Challenge. Strong Challenge won a maiden at the course over six furlongs and was impressive in doing so. The form looks solid as the runner-up has won his three races since, including at Group 3 level. He travelled strongly that day and I’m sure he’ll win races at a good level over time.
I prefer Ibn Malik here though. A winner of a competitive 12 runner Newmarket maiden, he won well while giving me the indication there was more to come from him. He has already won over seven furlongs and I see his guaranteed stamina as the main difference between the two. Coming from the in-form Charlie Hills yard I can see him adding to their recent haul of Group race wins.
15:10 Goodwood | Channel 4
The Lennox Stakes has produced some good winners down the years and has attracted two top horses in the form of Toormore and Dutch Connection. Both are course and distance winners and should handle the ground so this looks a close encounter.
Toormore was slightly disappointing in this race last year finishing second to Es Que Love. He did have excuses though, racing keenly and never fully settling. He’s much more straight-forward this season and seems to have done well from three to four. He’s also a fresher horse and this looks a good opportunity for a confidence booster before stepping back up to Group 1 level.
But he meets a Group 1 horse here running over what I believe to be his optimum trip. Dutch Connection ran down the field in the 2000 Guineas before winning the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. He then took his form to a new level finishing second to Territories in a French Group 1. He was five lengths clear of the third horse that day and I see Dutch Connection as a high class opponent here.
There is very little between the two, and with Toormore liking to get on with his business from the front it’s unlikely to become tactical either. I see this as one of those races where the cream will rise to the top and I’m backing Toormore and Dutch Connection in a reverse forecast.
13:55 Goodwood – Sennockian Star each way (11/1 Sportingbet)
14:35 Goodwood – Ibn Malik to win (6/1 BetVictor)
15:10 Goodwood – Torrmore/Dutch Connection Reverse Forecast
Richard Hughes ends his riding career this week after Glorious Goodwood.
Hugely successful at Goodwood throughout the years, new Coral customers can back him at a huge 5/1 that he rides a winner this week.