(Published July 13, 2018) – Run over two miles on the the undulating Sussex Down, the Qatar Goodwood Cup is one the outstanding races of the five-day Glorious Goodwood fixture that begins in late-July. For many years a Group 2 event, the race received a big boost when upgraded to Group 1 status in 2017, deserved recognition of a race that has consistently been won by some of the very best stayers in the business.
Last year it was Stradivarius who landed the spoils, and he will bid to make it back-to-back successes, attempting to add his name to a fine roster of dual heroes in this event that include Le Moss, Further Flight, Persian Punch, Yeats and Big Orange, not forgetting, of course, the superb three-time winner, Mark Johnston’s Double Trigger.
There is a £1 million bonus for any horse who can with the four big staying races of the term, and os far this year the first two legs of the challenge, the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup and the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup have been won by Stradivarius. If he wins the Goodwood Cup he could head to York’s Ebor meeting next month with the possibility of landing the massive bonus offered by Weatherbys Hamilton who sponsor the Group 2 Lonsdale Stakes, the final leg of the four-race challenge.
Another Virtuoso Performance From Stradivarius?
There’s no doubt about, John Gosden’s STRADIVARIUS is a very good stayer. Winner of last year’s Goodwood Cup following a titanic battle with the gallant Big Orange, he has stamped himself the top stayer at present with convincing wins in both the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup on the Knavesmire in May, and then again in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup last month where he ran on strongly on his first attempt beyond two miles to beat French star Vazirabad, the brave Torcedor, and former winner Order of St George.
Although he isn’t the biggest of horses, the son of Sea The Stars has all the attributes you look for in a top stayer. Clearly, he stays very, but he also relaxes during his races giving himself every chance to produce a kick when needed at the business end of the contest. He also has a fine attitude when it come to a fight, and he goes on just about any ground. In other words, the four-year-old is going to prove a very tough nut to crack (assuming he makes it fit and well to Goodwood on July 29) and the Evens offered by William Hill looks a fair reflection of his chance.
While owner breeder Bjorn Nielsen has swept talk of the £1 million bonus away, there is little doubt connections would love to land not only the £500,000 Goodwood Cup, but also the final race of the series at York next month as it would be a quite outstanding sporting achievement. Stradivarius, with the first two legs already under his belt, will have many neutrals willing him on at Goodwood as he bids to make history.
Old Rivals Planning Revenge
Star Irish stayers Order of St George and Torcedor have gained a rear view of Stradivarius too often for their liking over the last 12 months, and doubtless their respective trainers, owners and jockeys will be looking to exploit any possible flaws in the hot favourite.
Aidan O’Brien’s Order Of St George has long since proved himself a fine racehorse, winning 13 of his 25 races, including Group 1 triumphs in the 2016 Ascot Gold Cup, the 2015 & 2017 renewals of the Irish St Leger, and his finished an excellent third and fourth respectively in the last two renewal sof the Prix de ‘Arc de Triomphe over a mile-and-a-half. At the end of last term he also won the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, coming out on top in a three-cornered battle with Torcedor and Stradivarius, the latter not appearing at his best on soft ground.
After winning Navan’s Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes this April and the listed Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown in May, the six-year-old so of Galileo was sent off 7/4 joint-favourite alongside Stradivarius for the Ascot Gold Cup, but after holding every chance 2 out he couldn’t quicken in his customary fashion and eventually finished a four-length fourth behind Stradivarius, Vazirabad and Torcedor.
On balance, this two miles should suit the Ballydoyle star better than Ascot, but he has never raced at this unique and difficult track. He could well bounce back and run a massive race Sportingbet currently offer 6/1 – but on balance a place might be the best he can do this time around.
Torcedor, trained by Jessica Harrington, finished half a length in front of Stradivarius when the pair were second and third respectively behind Order Of St George at Ascot last October. He won the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in May before running a great race in the Gold Cup last month leading 3 out then fighting back after being headed at the furong pole to very nearly regain second on the line. In the end he was beaten a length by Stradivarius. He should again give a very good account of himself and currently represents solid each-way value at 15/2 with Bet Stars.
Where Might The Surprise Packages Lie?
Aidan O’Brien has six of the 17 horses beside Order Of St George declared for this great race, and the two most interesting possible runners at the Group 2 Queen’s Vase winner Kew Gardens, and the globetrotting mile-and-a-half star Idaho.
The three-year-old Kew Gardens also looked as though he was crying out for a trip having beaten the subsequent Investec Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee over a mile-and-a-quarter as a juvenile in Newmarket’s Zetland Stakes. He looked one paced when runner-up in the Lingfield Derby Trial won by Knight To Behold, was outclassed in the Derby, but then came into his own when stepped up in trip at Ascot last time, powering away to win by over four lengths with plenty in hand from stable companion Southern France, another possible runner in the Goodwood Cup. It wouldn’t surprise to see this progressive son of Galileo improve again for the extra two furlongs and the 9/1 offered by Paddy Power is a fair each-way price.
Idaho, placed in both the English and Irish Derbys of 2016, won last year’s Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes in fine style and was a commendable third ot the great Enable in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes the following month. He stepped up to the extended mile-and-five furlongs of the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester and May and won with something in hand but has since been found wanting over shorter in both the Coronation Cup and in attempting to defend his Hardwicke Stakes crown.
If given a chance to try this stayers’ trip O’Brien five-year-old might just find the slightly steadier pace suiting him and, like Kew Gardens, this 20/1 shot with Betfair would certainly not be out of the reckoning for a place at least.
My final contender for consideration is Roger Charlton’s still unexposed and very progressive Withhold, a horse who has graduated through handicap company and has earned his chance to take n this best in the business. This lightly raced five-year-old landed a massive gamble in last season’s Cesarewitch Handicap pover two-and-a-quarter miles, winning with ease, then wasn’t seen again until contesting last month’s Northumberland PLate over two miles on the All Weather surface at Newcastle, where off a 12lb higher mark he easily accounted for 19 race fit rivals.
Still not over how good Withhold looked yesterday at Newcastle.
— World Cup Betting Tips (@OLBG) July 1, 2018
There could be plenty to more to come from the Tony Bloom-owned Champs Elysees gelding, but he does need to improve another 10lb to really mix it with the likes of Stradivarius, Torcedor, Order Of St George et al, but that is by no means out of the question. At 12/1 each-way with Paddy Power, Withhold could be the sporting option to backing the hot favourite.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.