Qatar Goodwood Festival Handicappers Blog

07 Aug 18

Is Battaash the best sprinter in the world?

The best performance of the Glorious Goodwood week was put up by Battaash in the Group 2 Qatar King George Stakes run over 5f on Friday says Chris Nash.

He went into the race rated 122 and, even though he was carrying a 3lb penalty, he had 7lbs and upwards in hand of his rivals on the official figures.  However, he beat them in dazzling fashion and did so with plenty more than those 7lbs in hand.  He tanked along throughout, led around 2f out and had a gap on the field 1f out which he maintained to the line where he was 4 lengths clear of Take Cover with Muthmir a further ½ length back in 3rd.

Take Cover arrived here rated 109 and has a tremendous record in this race having finished 4-1-2-1 in the previous four renewals running to figures of 111-112-110-113 and he gives this form some basis.  It is similar with Muthmir who arrived rated 108 and has been running consistently, recently recording figures of 107-108-106 in his previous three starts.  I think this form has a solid look to it.

Battaash and Jim Crowley winning The King George Qatar Stakes

In winning by a comfortable 4 lengths carrying 3lbs more than all his rivals I have Battaash running to a figure of 127 which rates a career best and has him as the leading sprinter in the world this year.  His next outing is likely to be at York later this month in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes.  I am hoping that he can win the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint, something which no other British-trained horse has ever achieved.

The highest profile 2yo race over 5f during the week was the Group 3 Markel Insurance Molecomb Stakes run on Wednesday.  This also saw a commanding winner with Rumble Inthejungle travelling best throughout the race and coming home 2½ lengths clear of his rivals.  Having had only two previous runs, he did not have an official rating but he had already run a figure of 100 when finishing 4th in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.  This performance was another step up and I have given him a figure of 109 for this win.

Life Of Riley finished second – he had placed in a Listed race on his previous run and arrived here rated 95.  This was an improved effort and his mark will rise to 101.  The form is given a solid look by the next two home as both Soldier’s Call (3rd) and Vintage Brut (4th) had previously won Listed races.  Rumble Inthejungle has improved with every start so there is presumably still some potential for further improvement. He rates an exciting sprinting prospect.

The £1m Stradivarius?

The Qatar Goodwood Cup saw a rematch of Stradivarius and Torcedor between whom there was only ¾ of a length in the Ascot Gold Cup, writes Matthew Tester.

Goodwood Festival

Stradivarius winner of the Gr.1 Qatar Goodwood Cup Stakes

This time there was only half a length between them with Stradivarius again the winner.  But it is the third meeting that has everyone excited.

If Stradivarius can win the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York later in the month then he will have earned a £1,000,000 bonus to go along with almost £700,000 in prize money from the three races.  But there is a catch.

This time Stradivarius will have to carry three pounds more than Torcedor.  The other two races are Group 1s, the Lonsdale Cup is a Group 2 race and he will have a penalty.  Normal handicapping practice says that Torcedor will turn the tables.  Three pounds would normally slow a horse down by three lengths in those long distance races.  But I am not so sure in this case it will work out that way.

There is a real possibility that Stradivarius was only doing enough to win, that he would have pulled out extra had it been needed.  I think that there is more to come.  There will need to be as it will take a career best performance to win the million.  My head says Torcedor, my heart says Stradivarius.  The Lonsdale Cup is on August 24th and is not to be missed.

Lightning strikes once

Amongst the eight races I had to assess at Goodwood last week, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill, it was the success of Lightning Spear in the Qatar Sussex Stakes that gave me the greatest pleasure.

Despite several near misses in the top mile races in recent years, the seven year old did not have a Group 1 win on his CV until last Wednesday. He achieved it on his sixteenth run in the Group 1 company.

Lightning Spear – Oisin Murphy wins the Qatar Sussex Stakes (Group 1)

The race did provide some food for thought from a handicapping perspective Lightning Spear has never run higher than 120 in twenty three previous starts. That was achieved when third behind Minding and Ribchester in the 2016 QE II at Ascot. In his ten subsequent starts his record is littered with performances ranging between 105 and 119 and with just one success – the 2017 Celebration Mile, also at Goodwood. It is entirely possible however, that he bettered that figure here, beating the likes of Expert Eye (2nd: pre-race 119), Gustav Klimt (4th: 118), Beat The Bank (5th: 118) and Without Parole (7th: 119) but, at this stage, I have my doubts.

I think it fair to say that in winning his first Group 1 he has equalled anything he has done previously but find it a little hard to believe, given his previous history, that he is suddenly an improved horse. I may be wrong but I would like to see him back it up with a similar performance before handing out that accolade.

As such, I have him running to 120 and amended his published mark in line with that. Expert Eye (2nd) was probably a little keen for his own good and I have him performing a couple of pounds of his current mark of 119 (remains unchanged). Third-placed Lord Glitters is promoted 1lb to the 116.

Disappointment of the race was Without Parole but there were legitimate excuses for his performance as he was reported as being unsuited by having to make his own running. That said the form of the St James’s Palace he won at Royal Ascot is looking shaky as the first six home now failing to reproduce their supposed performances there in a total of seven subsequent starts. For this reason I have pulled the race down a pound and Without Parole goes from 119 to 118  based on the Royal Ascot performance rather than what he did or didn’t achieve last week.