The Goodwood Cup run over the marathon distance of two miles is the feature race on Thursday (3.10pm, Channel 4). The field includes three of the first four home last year and some interesting newcomers to the track to preview.
The betting market is understandably led by the current titleholder, Big Orange at 4/1. Trained by Michael Bell, this five-year-old gelding won well in the Princess of Wales’s at Newmarket earlier this month. His usual jockey Jamie Spencer made the mistake of getting off him to partner the more strongly fancied The Grey Gatsby.
Spencer ended up watching Big Orange’s backside pass the line, unable to get within two lengths of it. Big Orange’s jockey on the day, the Kiwi-born James McDonald, kept things simple and won the race from the front. He judged the fractions perfectly and made it look easy. Spencer typically gave his mount an awful lot to do and should have known that his former partner was not going to come back to him.
In his previous run this appropriately named son of Duke Of Marmalade (he is a ridiculously tall, light bay) was beaten nine lengths into third behind Exosphere on unsuitably soft ground at the same course at the end of April. In his only other run this time Big Orange was narrowly beaten in a Group 2 over two miles at Meydan. Big Orange is ultra consistent on good ground. He won the Princess of Wales’s last year too before taking this race under Spencer, who is unfortunately back on board.
Quest For More (8/1) was only beaten a neck by Big Orange here last time under George Baker and lines up again for Roger Charlton. After that promising run he was sent to Australia but failed to fire in the Geelong Cup in October and was ninth in the Melbourne Cup in early November. Big Orange got the better of him at Flemington too and picked up decent money for finishing fifth.
This son of Teofilo was given a break and reappeared at York in May in a listed race over a mile and six furlongs. He ran creditably and was runner-up, beaten less than a length giving the winner 5lb. Earlier this month he started as the favourite over the same course and distance but could only finish third, four lengths behind Ralph Beckett’s filly Pamona. George Baker has ridden Quest For More to victory three times and is reunited with him here after a year’s absence. There are no concerns on the jockey front with this horse but his latest lacklustre performance does not inspire confidence.
A horse with a very different profile is now saddled by Gordon Elliott (pictured) who makes a habit of winning valuable handicaps under both codes. Commissioned (11/1) was a 152 rated hurdler when trained by John Ferguson for his Arab masters. He cost £180K as a yearling and was sold at their dispersal sale in April for £65K.
Commissioned was struggling over obstacles and blinkers were reapplied for his only run this year for Ferguson in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. They did not have the desired effect and he finished midfield.
This six-year-old son of Authorized appeared for the first time for his new owners in the Queen Alexandra Stakes, run over two miles five furlongs at Royal Ascot. He was held up in touch and won well, gaining almost £50K in prize money. Not a bad initial investment return. He has never been to Goodwood but used to be able to handle the undulations of Prestbury Park. He has not encountered quick ground since he won a handicap as a three-year-old for Mark Johnston but was fancied to do so, starting as the favourite. Adam Kirby rides him for the second time.
Sir Mark Prescott’s unruly giant Pallasator (7/1) finished third in this race last year, outpaced rather than outstayed, beaten about three lengths. He often adds colour to the preliminaries when he is taken down to the start early for his own safety as well as everyone else’s.
Now a seven-year-old, Pallasator started this season well with a win by two lengths in a Group 3 at Sandown in May. It was the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot next but the extra half mile in mud was too much for him, he ran out of steam and was tailed off. He started as the joint favourite in a listed race at Sandown three weeks ago but did not get the clearest of runs and was beaten a length into fourth. It is probably no accident that his one win at Group 2 level was over two miles two furlongs. He should run well but is more likely to fill a place than to win in this company.
Curbyourenthusiasm (7/1) has never tried this trip before but has progressed since being stepped up to a mile and six furlongs in his last two starts by David Simcock. This five-year-old grey has only run once this season. He was beaten half a length into second by Peter Niven’s stable star Clever Cookie in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup in mid May, ‘keeping on well’ on the quick ground. The hot favourite, Luca Cumani’s Second Step, finished a close third but Second Step’s rating has plummeted since and Clever Cookie is a soft ground specialist.
Last season this son of Mastercraftsman ended his campaign with a win in a handicap at Doncaster off a mark of 95, beating Roger Varian’s Battersea a length when receiving 2lb from him ‘staying on well’. Battersea has been well beaten by Big Orange. Curbyourenthusiasm may well benefit from this step up in trip but he will need to, his current mark of 111 is probably a flattering one so we will rule him out as our Goodwood Cup preview’s betting tip.
The youngest horse in the line-up is Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old Sword Fighter (7/1). No horse of his age has won since Lucky Moon in 1990 but very few have tried. This son of Galileo has probably kept his talent well hidden at home. He started at 33/1 but won the Queen’s Vase, a listed race for three-year-olds over this trip at Royal Ascot. Sword Fighter was presumably supposed to be the pacemaker for his fancied stablemate, Landofhopeandglory ridden by Ryan Moore, but ran on gamely under Colm O’Donoghue beating him two lengths into fourth.
Nine days later Sword Fighter proved that the win was no fluke by beating Landofhopeandglory again in a Group 2 over a slightly shorter distance at the Curragh. The Ballydoyle third jockey, Colm O’Donoghue partners him here. This will be his first experience of Goodwood and fast ground but his 17lb weight for age allowance coupled with his low draw should aid his cause considerably.
Another Irish challenger is Willie Mullins’ Wicklow Brave (12/1). He has not won for over a year but has done well grabbing place money on the flat and over hurdles in Group company. Most recently he never looked to be travelling in the Hardwicke at Ascot and was beaten 14 lengths. In his only other start this term he finished a close second to the Hardwicke winner, the Queen’s Dartmouth, in a Group 3 at Chester. He was a beaten favourite when he last encountered quick ground at Royal Ascot last year suggesting that conditions are against him.
Ralph Beckett’s Kinema (14/1) won here in May but that was in a handicap off a mark of 95 with some give in the ground. He followed up with another handicap win at Royal Ascot over a mile and a half. This five-year-old son of Galileo has never been tried over two miles. He is now rated 107 and will need to improve again to feature here – Big Orange is ranked 10lb superior to him. It is far from impossible if he copes with conditions.
Our Preview’s Goodwood Cup Betting Tip Verdict
Big Orange thoroughly deserves to be the clear favourite but did McDonald’s masterful ride and Spencer’s less impressive tactics flatter him last time? If Sword Fighter is ridden prominently as usual there will be competition for the lead.
- Our preview’s Goodwood Cup betting tip has to be for Gordon Elliott’s relatively unknown quantity, COMMISSIONED. The stable is in great form and this gelding can be ridden midfield. He may well have won last time in spite of the ground rather than because of it – he preferred decent going as a hurdler. Back him each-way, at a current best price of 11/1 with Paddy Power or BetVictor.
Fiona Derek is our Reality TV and horse racing expert. The only time you won’t find her riding or mucking out a racehorse is when she is watching Reality TV or racing on the box.