Those ladies among the 100 000 people who will flock on to the 12 000-acre Goodwood Estate high up on the picturesque Sussex Downs this week will be as elegantly dressed as any you will see on the Royal Heath, but the gents will have put their toppers back in their boxes and instead be wearing the traditional Panama hats and toasting every winner with Pimms or champagne.
It was in 1801 that the 3rd Duke of Richmond introduced horseracing at Goodwood – we are now on the 10th Duke – and I would challenge anyone to name a more beautiful racecourse in the world.
This meeting has always been synonymous with quality, but a recent 10-year sponsorship deal with the Qataris has raised prize money above £4.5 million, an increase in just 12 months of more than £2 million.
Goodwood is more of a speed track than Ascot, where there is a stiff uphill finish, so for that reason my first-day banker is DUTCH CONNECTION in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes.
Trainer Charlie Hills is enjoying a fantastic season and Dutch Connection has done his bit towards paying for the champagne, winning the Jersey Stakes at the Royal meeting and then making Guineas runner-up Territories fight all the way for victory in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.
Toormore, beaten a neck in this race last year, was recently bought by Godolphin and on his close Lockinge Stakes second at Newbury, rates a big threat.
The other Group 2 race is the Vintage Stakes for two-year-olds. Godolphin’s Strong Challenge will be a popular order, having beaten Gutaifan here in June, and the form was given a timely boost when the runner-up won the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin in France on Sunday.
However, Strong Challenge may not be quite so effective over this extra 200m on easier ground and I prefer Coolmore challenger AIR VICE MARSHAL, who was only just worried out of it by Birchwood at the Newmarket July meeting and is expected to take his revenge on 1.5kg better terms.
The handicaps at Goodwood, where jockeys seem to find as many traffic problems as Joe Public does on the M25, are notoriously difficult puzzles for punters to solve and the opener is no exception, so I’ll be splitting my bets on MASTER OF THE WORLD and SPARK PLUG.
Champion jockey Richard Hughes, who rides Master Of The World, retires at the end of the week and also has excellent prospects in the 2800m handicap on OASIS FANTASY. This fellow ran well from a bad draw in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Eric Alston is a trainer who excels with sprinters, so I’ll be siding with his RIDGE RANGER in the sprint handicap – forget his last run as he missed the break – while SIR ROGER MOORE is a tentative selection for the two-year-old maiden and you’ll need a low draw for the concluding 1600m handicap. My fancy, HANNINGTON, has just that in stall No 2.