It's Sussex Stakes day at Glorious Goodwood and Mark Milligan is backing an outsider in the big race as well as a Ryan Moore ride in the 15:00...
Poetic Flare should win if he produces his best, though the possibility of very testing ground does bring others into the equation, and Duhail is worth an interest to small stakes.
Overnight thunderstorms on Monday into Tuesday have thrown an extra element of chaos into the mix when trying to pick out winners at Goodwood this week - a track that already boasts its fair share of chaotic races given sound underfoot conditions.
The ground on Tuesday was officially described as heavy (soft in places), and I'll proceed with this preview on the basis that the going won't be markedly different on Wednesday, though it goes without saying that it's best to tread warily for the time being where punting is concerned.
Poetic Flare is a strong favourite
The Wednesday highlight is the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes at 15:35, a race that has a lofty list of previous high-quality winners to its name.
The likes of Giant's Causeway, Rock Of Gibraltar, the mighty Frankel (twice) and Kingman are amongst the names of top-class horses that have taken this race throughout their illustrious careers.
Whilst it's unlikely we'll see one quite as good as that quartet this year, the race has at least attracted the best three-year-old miler in Jim Bolger's Poetic Flare, who has a 2000 Guineas and a St James's Palace Stakes on his CV.
Around this time last week we were looking forward to the umpteenth version of the 'Duel On The Downs', as Poetic Flare was expected to clash with the leading older miler Palace Pier, but the latter was ruled out due to blood disorder.
Poetic Flare aside, that's left us with a race that has decidedly below-par feel to it, though it has at least emboldened the connections of three-year-old fillies Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern to have a crack at the males rather than just sticking to competition against their own sex.
It's been a long time since a filly took this race (17 years by reckoning), when Soviet Song won in 2004 before going on to finish runner-up in the following two renewals.
Of the older horses seeking to down Poetic Flare, Tilsit perhaps has just about the best form claims, his recent win in the Summer Mile at Ascot showing him to be better than ever. There is obviously the question of ground with this one, though, as he's yet to encounter a surface slower than good on turf.
Order Of Australia, which will be ridden by Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore, spent most of last season being campaigned as a middle-distance horse before finally finding his calling in the Breeders' Cup Mile late in the year. He clearly needed his comeback run and was much better over 7f at the Curragh last time, though that was a race he was entitled to win comfortably on form.
Outsider worth backing at small stakes
If the ground does remain testing, an outsider capable of running a big race is Century Dream. Simon and Ed Crisford's 7-y-o has proven just about as good as ever this year, and he's a horse who thrives with a bit of dig in the ground, whilst he's also proven on the idiosyncratic track. There'll be worse 25/1 shots knocking around than this one should the going not dry out too much.
Another outsider worthy of a long look is Andre Fabre's French raider Duhail.
At first glance, his form looks a notch below the level needed to win a race like this, though dig a little deeper and there's a bit of substance there.
I'm something of a sucker for Andre Fabre's UK raiders and I can't resist a little each-way play on this one at 33/1, given the master French trainer's strike-rate in this country. This son of Lope De Vega will handle whatever ground conditions are thrown at him, and Jim Crowley - who rides Goodwood particularly well - is an interesting jockey booking.
To sum up, Poetic Flare should win if he produces his best, though the possibility of very testing ground does bring others into the equation, and Duhail is worth an interest to small stakes.
Amor set for another spicy encounter
The other race that interests me from a punting point of view is the Group 3 Markel Molecomb Stakes at 15:00.
The betting as it stands makes this more or less a two-horse race between Chipotle and Fearby, and while both have strong claims, there's more depth to the race than just this pair.
Fearby has improved markedly in his short career to date, following a fourth-place finish on debut at Newcastle with a win in a maiden on turf at Windsor. However, it's his listed race victory at Sandown last time that really marks him out as the one to beat here.
Settled off a strong pace, he powered through to lead over a furlong out to win by five lengths from Mojo and Kaboo (who reopposes here). That Sandown win came on good to soft, so he handles a bit of cut, though conditions have the potential to be much softer than that in this contest.
Chipotle is the other one the market likes and he ran out a ready winner of the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot back on quick ground, having proven a little disappointing on a soft surface prior to that. His latest outing badly hampered in the Super Sprint at Newbury is best ignored.
It's one that was behind Chipotle in that Windsor Castle who interests me here.
Richard Hannon's Armor went into that race on the back of a debut win in a four-runner maiden at Doncaster and actually acquitted himself reasonably well in the circumstances. Though having every chance, his lack of experience seemed to tell a bit late on, but he still ran creditably to finish fifth.
What is worth noting is that the Timeform reporter on the day noted that Armor was one of the better lookers in the field, and he certainly looks the type to flourish with more racing
. A son of No Nay Never, the other thing that attracts me to Armor is the possibility that the ground will still be slow on Wednesday.
Perhaps a little surprisingly, the progeny of No Nay Never have a good record on soft ground and this one's dam was a winner on an easy surface in France. Moore was on board for the maiden win, and with him back in the saddle here, I expect Armor to step forward again from that Windsor Castle run and hopefully turn the tables on Chipotle.
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