Glorious battle plans emerge

Telescope and jockey Richard Hughes
Telescope and jockey Richard Hughes
Minellatillmorning won the Happy Birthday Sarah Cotty Handicap Hurdle. Picture: Fontwell Park

Balding celebrates Glory at Fontwell

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With little more than a month until the launch of the Glorious Goodwood festival, trainers are busy making plans for some of the most prestigious prizes in racing.

While many will keep their cards close to their chest in a bid to leave rivals guessing, others are happy to lay bare the main contenders in their quest for glory on the South Downs.

Former Derby prospect Telescope is one talent whose team are zooming in on the West Sussex venue, while Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Just The Judge is likely to make the trip.

But few horses will grab the headlines more than Dawn Approach.

And his camp have given the biggest hint yet they are targeting the Sussex Stakes crown.

The four-time Group 1 winner, who triumphed in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, is trained by Jim Bolger.

The Irish handler has mapped out plan A for the three-year-old son of New Approach, which includes a visit to Goodwood before a French raid.

A return to Ascot for a shot at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes could then be on the agenda for the colt, whose only defeat in nine starts came after a below-par performance in the Derby.

Seventeen days later he was back on track, though, and narrowly held off the badly-hampered Toronado to win in Berkshire.

Now, with Dawn Approach fit and well following those exertions, Bolger is eyeing a fifth top-grade triumph.

‘He’s very well,’ said the trainer from Coolcullen, County Carlow.

‘He was bucking and squealing after his Ascot run, so he’ll pick up quickly.

‘He’s entered at Goodwood, there will be the Jacques le Marois (at Deauville) as well and then there’s back to Ascot for the QEII.

‘So we will be picking from those races.’

A rematch between Dawn Approach and Toronado is a mouthwatering prospect as the build up to the five-day festival gathers pace.

But there are other clues on offer for Goodwood punters as the meeting approaches.

Charlie Hills will want Just The Judge to get back on track after finishing third behind Sky Lantern in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot last week.

The Irish 1,000 Guineas winner was a popular pick to take the crown following four wins in her first five starts under rules.

However, she had no answer to the fast-finishing Sky Lantern in the one-mile contest.

Trainer Hills insists there is more to come from the three-year-old Lawman filly, though, and is now keen to step her up in distance.

And that has put the Group 1 Nassau Stakes – which is the feature contest on the final day of the festival – firmly on his radar.

‘I was obviously very proud of her,’ said the Lambourn handler.

‘She has run her race. The draw was no help but we’re not making excuses.

‘She is still improving, though. And, if anything, it has told us she wants stepping up to 10 furlongs now and we will look at the Nassau Stakes.

‘Hopefully she stays in training next year when she may even get a mile and a half.’

Meanwhile, Telescope’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute has his sights trained on Goodwood.

He is keeping his options open, though.

And he is set to choose between the Gordon Stakes on the Downs or the Great Voltigeur Stakes in Yorkshire.

Yet to be seen in 2013 – due to a minor setback – the three-year-old Galileo colt was a leading hope for the Derby after an impressive triumph at Newmarket on his second start last term.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, is looking forward to seeing Telescope return.

He added: ‘Sir Michael doesn’t want to be drawn on a set plan – which I understand – but he’s doing very well.

‘The horse is thriving again but I don’t know when he will come out.

‘Perhaps it might be a race like the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood or the Great Voltigeur at York.

‘He is in the Leger – but once the Derby dream evaporated, Sir Michael said it was all about “reorganising”.’