GLORIOUS GOODWOOD: All the day one action

They're under way for the 2016 Qatar Goodwod Festival / Picture by Tommy McMillanThey're under way for the 2016 Qatar Goodwod Festival / Picture by Tommy McMillan
They're under way for the 2016 Qatar Goodwod Festival / Picture by Tommy McMillan

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It was day one at the 2016 Qatar Goodwood Festival and we have all the action here as it happens.

There is a record amount of prize money up for grabs this week - £4.975m - and there are top-class races and big fields on each day of the five.

Tuesday’s highlight was the Qatar Lennox Stakes, with the Qatar Wintage Stakes a close second as it gives top two-year-olds a chance to shine.

Here’s how the afternoon unfolded...

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The first race of the 2016 festival went to a jockey and trainer who don’t often team up but who each in their own right enjoy plenty of Goodwood success - Adam Kirby and Mark Johnston.

The Matchbook Betting Exchange Stakes, a class two handicap, got Glorious off to a thrilling start and the four-year-old Johnston-trained Fire Fighting took the honours after starting at 8/1.

Oasis Fantasy (12/1) was second for Silvestre de Sousa and Ed Dunlop.

You can expect that not to be Johnston’s last winner of the week - he loves Glorious, is one of the top trainers for the festival in recent times and has a strong hand of runners throughout the week.

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This was Johnston’s 67th winner at Glorious - putting him four behind the current leading trainer Sir Michael Stoute - and taking his overall winning tally at the track to 119. It was also his sixth victory in the race.

Johnston said, tongue in cheek: “This horse is a bit special - we wanted him so much we took him to the sales and couldn’t sell him. Thank goodness, because of what he has done since - it’s wonderful.

“I think there are a lot of horses out there that could be like this. You have to wonder whether is he tough and that what makes him able to race a lot or is it the fact that he races a lot makes him tough.

“We gave him a couple of months off in the winter and his first run back was the first time that he has ever come back lame from a race. You have to remember that time off doesn’t always do them good.”

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The Qatar Vintage Stakes was taken in impressive style by the Aidan O’Brien-trained War Decree, tipped by the Observer sports editor here earlier.

The two-year-old’s odds for next year’s 2000 Guineas were immediately cut from 25/1 to 12/1 by some bookies.

Godolphin’s Thunder Snow was second under Aussie jockey James McDonald.

War Decree jockey Ryan Moore - favourite for the top jockeys’ title for the week - said the horse was very well-balanced and a good mover, and one who should improve again.

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Kevin Buckley, UK Representative for Coolmore, said: “War Decree has definitely improved from the Superlative Stakes last time. We had a 3lb advantage today, he is still a little green but that was an exciting performance.

“It did look a rough race but being by War Front he acted well on the ground and that is why we decided to come here. He can stay at this distance or step up a little bit. We might look at the Champagne or the National Stakes. Going to America is certainly a possibility given his pedigree.”

Moore, registering his 115th winner at the Sussex venue and his 29th at Glorious, said: “Like all of Aidan’s two-year-olds, he has improved a great deal from Newmarket. Every run, he has progressed and he is a very well-balanced and good-moving horse.

“He’s a nice type and was still green when he got there - he still had a look and his head went around - and I would say they he will improve again. I felt that we could turn the Newmarket form around. We were getting 3lb and I thought inexperience cost him the last day. Aidan’s horses all seem to progress and this lad certainly has.”

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The feature race, the Group 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes, turned into a battle of the Godolphin horses and it went to Dutch Connection, ridden by McDonald for Charlie Hills, by a length and three-quarters.

Runner-up last year, Dutch Connection led home a one-two for Godolphin, for Home Of The Brave, from Hugo Palmer’s stable, took second, a length and three-quarters adrift of the winner, and the same distance ahead of his stablemate, Gifted Master, who made the early running.

The winner, sent off the 9/4 favourite, was ridden by James McDonald, the New Zealander who rides primarily in Australia and is on an extended stay in Britain following a riding ban for Godolphin jockey William Buick.

McDonald is enjoying a purple patch, and drew a comparison with the great American jockey Steve Cauthen, who began his career in Britain with Hills’ father, Barry, who retired from training last year. In turn, it was to ride for Charlie that McDonald first appeared in Britain three years ago.

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Charlie Hills said: “James came down and rode out on his first morning, and Dad said, ‘Who’s that jockey? I haven’t seen a jockey like that on these gallops since Steve Cauthen,’ so that’s a high accolade.

“We seemed to hit it off pretty well. I think he is a world-class jockey and he’s still very young, so I think we are going to see him here quite a bit. He’s young, seems very laidback and has a good relationship with horses. He is very positive.”

McDonald said: “The race panned out well. The strong pace set it up well for my horse. He travelled very well and when I eased him out the race was over a fair way from home. Once he coasted up to the leader, it was all over.

“He is a very good horse who is very capable on his day. Hopefully he can win that elusive Group One in the future. He adapted to the conditions underfoot superbly and I wouldn’t run him on any ground apart from that.

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“He’s an awesome horse and I can’t believe that I have won a big race for Charlie Hills. He’s an absolute brother of mine - he brought me over here and he and his team have shown so much faith. I can’t thank them enough.

Elidor, ridden by De Sousa, was a popular 16/1 winner of the Better Odds With Matchbook Summer Stakes for Mick Channon, beating Qewy and Notarised into second and third.

Channon registering his 101st Goodwood winner and 13th at Glorious, said: “He keeps turning up bless him. He has always had a bit of class and I am delighted. It is nice when you can win at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. He is tough and just a very good horse.

“The Ebor was always the target for this horse but because we have had the ground that he wants, we couldn’t wait. We will still go to the Ebor but we didn’t want to miss the ground today. He has been in great form as have all the horses at home so we are very pleased.

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“He’s part of the furniture now and he is just a good horse. He has deserved to win big races. He is pretty straightforward. He is just a smashing horse to have around and he always has been since we have had him.”

De Sousa, gaining his 14th victory at the track and seventh Glorious festival success, remarked: “My horse travelled well down the hill and he managed to get his head in front. He pulled quite hard and they went a nice early gallop.

“He likes the ground which is key to him. He has been a good servant for me and I am just glad to see him get his head in front.”

Kirby completed a double by riding Boom The Groom (13/2) first home in the Weatherbys Private Bank Stakes for trainer Tony Carroll.

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Then Godolphin registered their second success of the afternoon when James Doyle claimed the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes on Saeed bin Suroor-trained Best Solution (11/2), ahead of Rich and Famous, which meant another close call for that man McDonald.

The last, the Smarter Bets With Matchbook Betting Exchange Fillies’ Stakes, went to Oisin Murphy on 13/2 contender Desert Haze, trained by Ralph Beckett. Andrea Atzeni came from nowhere on Haggle to finish second.

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