International spotlight: Sussex, Nassau serve up Glorious clashes at Goodwood
The British summer festivals roll on to Glorious Goodwood this week, with an action-packed five days of racing kicking off on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s Sussex (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), pits streaking sophomore Paddington against older filly Inspiral. Their match-up looms large in a small field, but a couple of others could furnish some intrigue on likely testing ground.
Watch the weather for changing conditions. As of Monday, Goodwood is labeled good-to-soft, with a chance of showers overnight before a better Tuesday. Wednesday is looking very rainy, according to the Met Office forecast.
Although the Sussex is the only Breeders’ Cup Challenge event, potential contenders for Santa Anita will be visible throughout the meeting. Thursday’s Nassau (G1) is particularly fascinating, as French superstar Blue Rose Cen takes on older distaffers led by defending champion Nashwa.
Here’s an overview of how the daily features are shaping up, with more details on the first two cards that are already drawn.
The Vintage (G2) (fourth race at 10:25 a.m. ET), a seven-furlong test for juveniles, includes Golden Mind, a half-brother to highweight sprinter Perfect Power and close third in the Chesham S. at Royal Ascot; Haatem, a distant second to budding superstar City of Troy in the Superlative (G2); and Iberian, a sharp debut winner at Newbury for Charlie Hills.
The Lennox (G2) (fifth race at 11:00 a.m. ET) features last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile third, Kinross. The Ralph Beckett veteran won the 2021 Lennox, with eventual Mile star Space Blues fourth. Kinross was unlucky in his title defense here last summer, when threading the needle on the inside and missing by a neck in second. He shrugged that off by winning his next four, including the Prix de la Foret (G1) and British Champions Sprint (G1), en route to his fine placing at Keeneland. Kinross was most recently third in the six-furlong July Cup (G1), and stepping back up to seven panels is a plus. His resume makes him the clear favorite, but the presence of Frankie Dettori in the saddle helps.
Other Lennox contenders include John and Thady Gosden’s progressive Audience, exiting a breakthrough win in the Criterion (G3); classy sophomore Isaac Shelby, the near-misser in the French 2000 Guineas (G1) and fourth in the St James’s Palace (G1) who should appreciate the cutback from a mile; Charlie Appleby’s Al Suhail, who broke Meydan’s 1400-meter course record twice during the 2023 Dubai Carnival; and Marbaan, winless since the course-and-distance Vintage here last summer, but capable of firing on his day. Note that Al Suhail’s run is contingent on the ground; he won’t want any more rain.
Goodwood Cup (G1)
The two-mile Goodwood Cup (G1) (sixth race at 11:35 a.m. ET) has attracted several from Royal Ascot’s Gold Cup (G1), led by one-two Courage Mon Ami and Coltrane. Dropping down a half-mile in trip could help those trying to turn the tables on Courage Mon Ami, including the Aidan O’Brien duo of Emily Dickinson and Broome, the respective fourth and 10th in the Gold Cup, and seventh-placer Eldar Eldarov. On the other hand, undefeated Courage Mon Ami was himself an unknown quantity at that marathon distance. The alluring fresh face is Giavellotto, who beat Eldar Eldarov in the Yorkshire Cup (G2) and deliberately skipped Ascot in favor of Goodwood. But Eldar Eldarov was conceding weight, and recency, at York, and he’d defeated Giavellotto in last fall’s St Leger (G1).
The Molecomb (G3) (third race at 10:00 a.m. ET) has implications for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1), as a five-furlong dash for the speediest types. Topping the market are two last-out listed winners, Dragon S. romper Kylian and Windsor Castle S. upsetter Big Evs. Yet Windsor Castle flop Barnwell Boy returns to the scene of his smashing maiden win, while July (G2) fifth Purosangue and Rose Bowl S. runner-up Shagraan could both improve going shorter.
Sussex (G1) - WAYI for Breeders' Cup Mile
The “Win and You’re In” Sussex (fourth race at 10:35 a.m. ET) marks Paddington’s first try versus older milers, but he’s already proven himself against elders over further.
The Aidan O’Brien colt successfully stretched out to 1 1/4 miles in the Eclipse (G1), where he toppled Emily Upjohn, and the duo pulled six lengths clear of the rest. Paddington reverts to a mile in search of his seventh straight win, a sequence including the Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) and St James’s Palace against his own generation. He’s won in pretty desperate going in the past, so in principle, deteriorating conditions shouldn’t faze him – if his meteoric improvement hasn’t left its mark. For whatever it’s worth, Emily Upjohn threw in a clunker next time out in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1).
📰 George Duffield, rider of the mighty Giant's Causeway, says he sees a lot of comparisons in Paddington 👇— Racing TV (@RacingTV) July 9, 2023
Inspiral arrives fresher, having come up just short in her comeback in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot. The Frankel filly hasn’t tried ground as soft as this is liable to be, and she’s been slightly hit-or-miss since her flawless juvenile campaign. Nevertheless, Inspiral has flaunted true star quality when she’s on song for the Gosdens, and that makes her Paddington’s leading opponent on paper.
Soft ground can be a chaotic variable, though; French shipper Facteur Cheval and Shadwell’s Aldaary will try to exploit that angle. Facteur Cheval sports collateral form with the Queen Anne. He was just denied in third in the Prix d’Ispahan (G1), and runner-up Light Infantry went on to place third in the Queen Anne. Facteur Cheval scored his signature win in last fall’s Prix Perth (G3) on heavy going. Sire Ribchester twice placed in the Sussex, infamously in a bog in 2017, when overturned as the odds-on favorite by longshot Here Comes When. It would be ironic if Facteur Cheval can play the spoiler here.
While Aldaary has more to prove, he represents a Shadwell operation that’s flying high at the moment, and he brings a sneaky look for William Haggas. His steep upward curve was flattened by a long layoff, but Aldaary is arguably rounding into form in this third start back, in his optimal conditions.
Charyn has place claims based on his form with Paddington, a fourth in the Irish 2000 Guineas and a third in the St James’s Palace. Rounding out the cast is divisional mainstay Chindit, who often promises more than he delivers, but can never be counted out.
The Alice Keppel conditions race (fifth race at 11:10 a.m. ET) is worth a look for comparison purposes with the Molecomb. For two-year-old fillies over the same trip, it launched future Group 1 star The Platinum Queen last summer. One of the key players is my longshot stab from Royal Ascot’s Queen Mary (G2), Flora of Bermuda, who was a creditable sixth on the wrong side of the course that day.
Final declarations for the remainder of the meeting will be forthcoming (48 hours ahead of each raceday), so we’ll just hit the highlights.
The six-furlong Richmond (G2) (second race at 9:25 a.m. ET) for juveniles and 1 1/2-mile Gordon (G3) (third race at 10:00 a.m. ET) for sophomores build up to the day’s centerpiece, and one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the week.
The Nassau (fourth race at 10:35 a.m.) gives Blue Rose Cen an opportunity to take her game on the road, and try elders, for the first time. Trained by Christopher Head, the latest horseman from a dynasty including father Freddie, Blue Rose Cen has racked up five wins in a row. Last year’s French champion two-year-old filly when winning the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), she turned a classic double in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) (G1) and Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1). Blue Rose Cen thus achieved a rare triple that etched her name alongside all-time great Allez France, Divine Proportions, and the sublime Zarkava.
Nashwa, last year’s French Oaks winner, followed up with a decisive score in the Nassau. But she then endured a series of losses as the favorite. Fourth in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), Nashwa was a ring-rusty fourth to Above the Curve in the May 28 Prix Corrida (G2). The June 30 Hoppings (G3) was supposed to be a confidence-builder, only Nashwa was run down late by Al Husn. The Gosdens opted to shorten Nashwa up to a mile, and she responded with a five-length rout of the Falmouth (G1) at Newmarket. Her Nassau title defense is coming up deeper, but Nashwa has at least regained her groove.
Two of Blue Rose’s French Oaks victims could try again, runner-up Never Ending Story and the trailer Running Lion, who deserves a mulligan for her no-show. Running Lion was rerouted there after her gate scratch from the Oaks (G1) at Epsom. Caernarfon, the Epsom Oaks third, and Ribblesdale (G2) scorer Warm Heart, most recently fifth in the Irish Oaks (G1), are other possibles.
The Thoroughbred (G3) (second race at 9:25 a.m. ET) will be remembered as the spot where Baaeed made his stunning Group debut in 2021. The mile affair for three-year-olds could be the canvas for another serious up-and-comer, Nostrum, who had been under consideration for the Sussex. Unlike Baaeed, Nostrum raced as a juvenile, winning the Somerville Tattersall (G3) and finishing third in the Dewhurst (G1). But the Juddmonte homebred always shaped as the type to come into his own at three, under the tutelage of Sir Michael Stoute. Like Baaeed, Nostrum comes off an impressive tally in the Sir Henry Cecil S. at Newmarket.
The King George (G2) (fourth race at 10:35 a.m. ET) has logical repercussions for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Multiple Group 1 winner Highfield Princess, who was fourth in last fall’s Turf Sprint at Keeneland, has run well in defeat in all three starts this term. Judging by how she’s thrived with activity in the past, Highfield Princess could be ready to resume her winning habit, especially back at five furlongs. The Equiano gelding Equality exits a new career high in Sandown’s Sprint (G3), while the distaff angles are reinforced by Irish-based Ladies Church, sophomore filly Dramatised, soft-ground aficionado White Lavender, and Nymphadora.
The Glorious (G3) (fifth race at 11:10 a.m. ET) was won by Rebel’s Romance en route to his 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) heroics, and his trainer Charlie Appleby has New London engaged in the 1 1/2-mile affair. The winner of the course-and-distance Gordon last summer, the son of Dubawi was promoted to second in the St Leger as the favorite. He’s subsequently been gelded and is eligible to move forward second off the layoff. If the ground remains saturated by day four, mudlark Hamish would come into the equation. He would have been in the King George, had the rain persisted.
The Lillie Langtry (G2) (third race at 10:00 a.m. ET) is for distaffers at 1 3/4 miles, but they’re not necessarily plodders. George Strawbridge’s homebred Free Wind had the speed to get up in the about 1 5/16-mile Middleton (G2) at York, prior to a fifth as the favorite versus males in the Hardwicke (G2). Her stablemate from the Gosden yard, Mimikyu, has options, but her near-miss to River of Stars in York’s Bronte Cup (G3) suggests that this spot could suit. Also on the list as of Monday’s entry stage are Irish Oaks third Library; last-out Pontefract Castle S. winner Voodoo Queen; and Peripatetic, who beat males in the Tapster S. here two back.
The big betting race of the meet is the Stewards’ Cup (fourth race at 10:35 a.m. ET), a heritage handicap over six furlongs.