Mark Milligan recommends a bet for the Nassau Stakes on Thursday at Goodwood as well as one in the opener and a runner that is being underestimated in the betting...
"While the likes of Audarya and Lady Bowthorpe currently possess the best form, they’re not a million miles ahead of Joan Of Arc, and with a handy weight-for-age allowance, O’Brien’s progressive young filly is worth backing to improve past that duo."
At the time of writing, conditions at Goodwood continue to dry out and there is a strong possibility that Thursday's meeting could start on ground no worse than good to soft if the prevailing settled weather continues. In my opinion, that would be ideal for all concerned, as the best flat races tend to be much better spectacles on decent ground.
The Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes at 15:35 is the headline event on the third day of the Goodwood Festival, and it brings together a fascinating clash of the generations, with Audarya and Lady Bowthorpe representing the older mares, while Joan Of Arc appears to be the leading light amongst the sophomore fillies.
O'Brien's progressive filly is worth backing in the Nassau
James Fanshawe's likeable Audarya sets the standard and it's easy to see why she's been put in as favourite for this contest.
After disappointing in a pair of listed races early last season, her career really took off when the drop into handicap company coincided with the application of a tongue tie. A game win at Newcastle off a mark of 99 marked her out as a borderline smart performer, though she took her form to a new level when winning a Group 1 at Deauville on her next outing.
A good third to Tarnawa and Alpine Star in the Prix de l'Opera preceded Audarya's win in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland, and James Fanshawe's mare proved at least as good as ever when second to Love at Royal Ascot on her 2021 bow.
Lady Bowthorpe is an improved performer this year, her form stepping up a notch again when second to the world's leading miler Palace Pier in the Lockinge at Newbury in May. A little disappointing when runner-up in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot on her following start (uneasy in the betting), she was back to form when fourth in the Falmouth at Newmarket last time.
That effort even deserves upgrading a tad, as Lady Bowthorpe was short of room when making her effort, before staying on to good effect once in the clear. Although a winner over 9f, she has yet to try this mile-and-quarter trip but shouldn't have any problems staying this far (generally strong at the finish over shorter).
Aidan O'Brien's Joan Of Arc has come a long way in a short space of time having only broken her maiden at the start of this season.
Narrowly beaten by Empress Josephine in the Irish 1000 Guineas on her penultimate start, this daughter of Galileo got her Group 1 success when taking the French Oaks by three quarters of a length from Andre Fabre's Philomene last time. Always close up, she showed a great attitude and found plenty for pressure to get on top in the last 50 yards or of that contest.
Joan Of Arc appears an improved model for the step up to this trip and I'd expect her to reverse form with stable companion Empress Josephine from their Irish 1000 Guineas meeting.
Along with Joan Of Arc, Zeyaadah is another that appears on the upgrade, though she'll need to take a further step forward from her Newcastle win last time if she's to prove good enough in this company.
While the likes of Audarya and Lady Bowthorpe currently possess the best form, they're not a million miles ahead of Joan Of Arc, and with a handy weight-for-age allowance, O'Brien's progressive young filly is worth backing to improve past that duo.
Market is underestimating Third Realm
It won't be too long before we're into the beginning of autumn and attentions start to the turn to the final Classic of the season, the St Leger at Doncaster.
The Group 3 John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes at 15:00 is one of the first recognised trials for the that race and has attracted an intriguing field of three-year-olds.
A winner of a maiden on his seasonal return, Wordsworth has done little wrong since, finishing in the frame four times, most notably in the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris. He has looked just a little short of pace to my eye, though, and I'm not certain this track will play to his strengths.
Yibir has form that ties in with some of the best of his generation through his second to Lone Eagle here in May and he proved better than ever over 13f at Newmarket last time. Hailing from the all-conquering Charlie Appleby yard, there's no reason at all why he shouldn't go well again.
However, Roger Varian's Third Realm looks to have been underestimated in the market and should arguably be favourite for this contest.
He beat no less than Adayar in the Lingfield Derby Trial on his penultimate start before running a perfectly adequate race when fifth to that rival in the Derby itself. He was only a neck behind Irish 2000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney at Epsom and finished in front of subsequent G1 winner Bolshoi Ballet (although that one had excuses on the day).
I can see no reason at all why Third Realm should be priced up at 4/1 while Wordsworth is in the 9/4 region, and I'd make them at least the same price. It seems a no-brainer to be with Third Realm at those odds.
In the opening handicap at 13:50, I'm prepared to give Alfaadhel another chance following a disappointing effort at Royal Ascot last time. An impressive winner of a maiden and a minor contest prior to that poor run, he'd looked a horse going places and should be better suited by drying ground here, for all he'd won over a soft surface at Chester.
An imposing son of Night Of Thunder, Roger Varian's charge still retains plenty of potential and looks worth a small interest in what should be an informative handicap. As previously mentioned in this column, Jim Crowley is a jockey who rides Goodwood particularly well and he can hopefully get this one back on the right track.
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