The ground was changed to heavy – soft in places – at Goodwood on Tuesday morning following an unexpected deluge of 16mls of rain overnight. There is the possibility of further rain now on every day of the meeting except Thursday and it looks as if conditions will remain testing throughout the week.
Before racing on Tuesday I thought there were likely to be a raft of non-runners in the Gp 3 Oak Tree Stakes granted the recent rains but the times were not that bad although Sacred, Lavender’s Blue and Irish challenger Valeria Messalina are three fancied runners who would prefer quicker conditions.
Vadream (2.25) is a worthy market leader given she showed her ability to handle plenty of cut when third in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal meeting last month. She looked to be crying out for a return to further when a staying on third in a York Group 3 over 6f last time and this intermediate 7f trip looks ideal for a filly who finished sixth in the 1000 Guineas back in May. The ew selection is 13/2 with William Hill but I would imagine she will be about a 4s shot at post time as I would be surprised if there were not several non-runners.
Isabella Giles has failed to fire so far this season, but I remember how impressive she was on heavy ground when winning the Prestige Stakes over C&D back in the autumn. I thought the Clive Cox stable were quiet in the first half of the season and at 12/1 with Mansion Bet I think this filly represents a big danger.
The Group 1 Sussex Stakes is the feature race of the whole meeting but the underfoot conditions and absence of the outstanding older horse Palace Pier has devalued this mile contest. Poetic Flare’s stunning St James’s Palace Stakes success was the outstanding performance – just ahead of Subjectivist’s Gold Cup victory – at Royal Ascot last month and he would have been a confident selection on fast ground. Jim Bolger’s colt has winning form on soft/heavy ground but his two outstanding performances so far this season have come on fast ground and there is no question he is vulnerable on soft ground.
This is a huge day for Jamie Spencer who gets the ride on Snow Lantern (3.35) for the first time with regular pilot Sean Levey suspended. I thought Snow Lantern was magnificent in the Falmouth Stakes when she reversed heavy ground Royal Ascot form with Alcohol Free. There will be plenty who believe the latter will gain her revenge on today’s ground, but I thought Snow Lantern didn’t get the clearest of passages in the Coronation Stakes last month. The ew recommendation is 11/2 with 10Bet.
Spencer will try and get his mount nice and settled but she was more amenable to restraint at Newmarket last time, and she gets a narrow vote in what promises to be the race of the week. John Gosden will be disappointed that Palace Pier misses the race as he would have been a very short price on today’s ground.
The Galway Plate is one of the most competitive handicaps of the jumps’ year and my two against the field in this evening’s renewal are favourite The Shunter and Snow Falcon (6.15) with the each way vote going to Noel Meade’s veteran who finished fourth in the corresponding race three years ago from a 4lbs higher mark.
I felt the recommendation would have gone very close but for making a shuddering early mistake on that occasion and he looks to have been laid out for this race. He has a bit to find with Darasso on Listowel running back in June, but this evening’s conditions look ideal and at 25/1 – William Hill 6 places – he could be overpriced.
At Redcar I hope to see Sweet Believer (2.45) build on her narrow but convincing Nottingham maiden success last time. Apprentice Adam Faragher returns to the saddle having been in the plate when she was beaten a neck at Newmarket on her handicap debut from a 4lbs lower mark back in June. I think that form is strong in the context of today’s race. At the time of posting William Hill are the only firm with a price out at 10/11.
At Leicester Mustazeed (6.35) would have given the winner plenty to think about if he had not met trouble in running at Sandown last time. The selection had previously scored at Yarmouth, and he can return to winning ways off the same mark as at the Esher track. The selection – 7/4 with William Hill – can be slowly away which is a concern but Jack Mitchell, who was in the plate at Yarmouth, returns to the saddle and will be wise to his tardiness at the gates.