Mark Milligan previews the King George at Goodwood on Friday and backs a runner that he thinks can beat the much-fancied Mogul later on the card...
"Passion and Glory has got firmly back on track of late, scoring in good style in handicaps at Lingfield and Ascot on his last two starts, showing smart form and recording good timefigures into the bargain."
I have a confession to make. Despite being the wrong side of 45 years old (some would say considerably so), I'm a bit of a superhero movie obsessive. In recent times I've been diving headlong into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though it's in the DC comics extended universe where we find Batman and his turbo-powered speed machine the Batmobile.
And horseracing has its very own turbo-powered speed machine in Battaash, who in recent times has also been monikered the Batt-mobile by several in the racing media.
Battaash will take plenty of beating in the King George
There can be few horses in recent times that have shown the same raw speed and power as Charlie Hills' stable star, and he's sure to take plenty of beating in his attempt to win Goodwood's Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes (15:35) for a fifth successive year.
Having suffered a small fracture during the winter, he was entitled to need his comeback run at Royal Ascot last time, where he also suffered by being up with the overly strong pace throughout. We know full well Goodwood is a track that plays much more to Battaash's strengths.
However, there's a bit more depth to this race than has been the case in the last couple of years, particularly with Archie Watson's exciting three-year-old Dragon Symbol taking his chance.
Perhaps controversially disqualified having beaten Campanelle in the Commonwealth Cup, he ran another good race when second to progressive sprinter Starman in the July Cup last time. The drop back to 5f is the obvious concern, though he's a horse who's not devoid of early pace.
Time Easterby's Art Power ran as well as he's ever done when fourth in the July Cup last time and he won't be inconvenienced by the drop back to 5f for the first time since winning at the Royal meeting last year.
Liberty Beach is a smart filly who returned with a win in Haydock's Temple Stakes before finishing a good sixth in the King's Stand last time, and it's possible she may have even made the frame if not checked late on. She's a likeable sort who handles easy ground well and can't be entirely dismissed if Goodwood gets the upper limit of the forecast overnight rain.
Glass Slippers signed off her 2020 campaign with a neck second in the Prix de l'Abbaye before landing the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland in November. She's another smart sort but is entitled to need this having been off since then.
The French-trained filly Suesa brought an unbeaten record into the Commonwealth Cup and was sent off a well-backed 9/4 shot on the back of that, though she proved a disappointment on the day. She's undoubtedly better than she showed there but probably needs to find more on the overall balance of her form.
In summary, this is a race that once again looks set to be fast and furious, and Battaash is difficult to side against if he's come on as expected for that Kings' Stand run.
It's not a contest I'll be betting in, though it's one I can't wait to watch as a racing fan - it should be a great spectacle.
Passion and Glory can beat Mogul
Mogul is the obvious starting in the L'Ormarins Queen's Plate Glorious Stakes at 16:10.
Aidan O'Brien's son of Galileo Came good at this meeting in the Gordon Stakes last year before winning Group 1s abroad in the Grand Prix de Paris and Hong Kong Vase. It's probably fair to say there's been excuses for each of his below-par runs this year and he's a solid favourite on his best form.
A potential spanner in the works for Mogul supporters is the prospect of overnight rain. Anywhere between 3 - 5mms is forecast, which should keep the ground on the easy side, something that may not be ideal for one who seems better on a quicker surface.
Consequently, I'm going to side with a handicapper who seems firmly on the upgrade.
Saeed bin Suroor's Passion And Glory was steadily progressive in 2019 before missing the whole of 2020. I'm happy enough to write off his pair of poor runs at Meydan at the start of this year (not every horse takes to the climate/conditions out there), and he's looked different again since returning to the UK.
He's got firmly back on track of late, scoring in good style in handicaps at Lingfield and Ascot on his last two starts, showing smart form and recording good timefigures into the bargain.
The step up to Group 3 company against a proven top-level performer in Mogul obviously demands more, though it's a chance I'm prepared to take
I can't leave this race without a special mention for the veteran Euchen Glen, who's proving better than ever this season. Jim Goldie's stable star does have to shoulder a 3-lb penalty here, which obviously makes life tough, but it would be folly to write him off.
Stratum worthy favourite in wide open Galway race
Over at Galway, their all-jumps card is extremely competitive and finding winners is no easy task. The Guinness Handicap Hurdle at 17:30 looks wide-open and any number can be given chances.
Willie Mullins fields a quartet and it's his Stratum who probably just about deserves favouritism. He's a versatile and classy dual-purpose performer who added Queen Alexandra Stakes to his tally at Royal Ascot last month. He hasn't run over hurdles since February but that recent flat win should tee him up nicely.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there's no fully formed market on this race so selecting one to back is tricky. Those who fancy a punt, however, could do a lot worse than side with Mark Fahey's mare Place Des Voges.
A winner at Listowel in June, she didn't really get the run of the race when fourth at Down Royal on her most recent start. Still relatively lightly raced (this will be just her seventh start), she may well have more to offer in handicaps and just about earns the vote back up in trip. I won't be putting her up as an official selection, though wouldn't put anyone off having a small wager.
Get a £5 Free Bet on Multiples - Every Day!
Place £20 worth of Multiples or Bet Builders over the course of a day, and, after the bets have settled, you'll get a free £5 bet to use on Multiples or Bet Builders. Bets must settle before 23:59 on the day they're placed. No opt-in required, T&Cs apply.