Ellens Lad to exploit his handy low draw

Glorious Goodwood: A late-developing sprinter can complete a hat-trick in the Group Three King George Stakes in opening day's big race

Form fiends and purists sometimes have unkind words to say about Goodwood racecourse, which is one of those unlikely tracks which some horses adore and others take against completely. If you are drawn low in a big field over seven furlongs, you probably have no chance, and there is no other top-flight course which produces so many genuine hard-luck stories.

Form fiends and purists sometimes have unkind words to say about Goodwood racecourse, which is one of those unlikely tracks which some horses adore and others take against completely. If you are drawn low in a big field over seven furlongs, you probably have no chance, and there is no other top-flight course which produces so many genuine hard-luck stories.

For anyone whose spirit retains an ounce of sensitivity, however, there is nowhere in the racing world to match it, and over the next five days, tens of thousands of punters with just such an appreciation of the finer things in life will make their annual pilgrimage to the top of the Sussex downs.

Even backing losers at Goodwood is a relatively pleasant way to spend a summer's afternoon, but setting off back down the hill with more money than you started with is better still, and on the first day of this year's Glorious meeting, punters will feel they have an even-money chance at least.

The feature handicap has been cut to a manageable 11 runners, while the two Group races offer a relatively short list of possible winners, including Rudi's Pet, who attempts to take the King George Stakes for the second year in a row.

That form - previous course successes being particularly encouraging at unusual tracks like Goodwood - allied to the fact that he is trained by David Nicholls, the undisputed master of sprinters, will be enough to convince plenty of punters, and Rudi's Pet certainly has a fair chance of following up today.

The obvious worry, though, is his performance at Royal Ascot last time out, when he started favourite for the King's Stand Stakes but finished close to last, have been all but pulled up in the final furlong.

Nicholls would not be running today if he was in any doubt about the fitness of Rudi's Pet, but equally, you would really want proof of his wellbeing before stepping in to back him. Instead, the race may fall to another horse who has made his way up from handicaps, and is now in the form of his life, ELLENS LAD (nap 2.45). Six years of age is a rather odd time for a racehorse to suddenly improve into a Pattern-class sprinter, but success in his last two races, most notably under 10 stone at Ascot two weeks ago, indicates that Ellens Lad has made enough progress to deserve his place in today's field. A five-furlong specialist, he also has a handy draw in stall two, and a hat-trick beckons.

The Gordon Stakes, the second Group Three on the card, is often written off as a consolation event for nearly-horses, the sort who finish 10th in the Derby and can then find nowhere else to go.

That is hardly the case this year, though, for while St Expedit did indeed finish mid-division at Epsom, Going Global was among the backmarkers and Hataab was talked of as a Derby hopeful earlier in the season but never quite made it, today's field also includes the winners of two of the season's richest handicaps.

Sobriety, who took the John Smith's Cup at York last time, and Give The Slip (3.50), who won the King George V Handicap at the Royal meeting, are the colts in question, and it is the latter who should prevail. Sobriety showed great courage to stay on the final furlong over 10 furlongs at York, but he may not stay another quarter mile, and could still be feeling a hard race. Give The Slip, by contrast, has had a month off since Ascot, and gave the impression there that he is ideally suited to a well-run 12 furlongs.

Another certain stayer who will attract money is Give Notice (2.15), who is making swift strides up the ratings after three consecutive victories, and had gone up another 11lb since his last success. That may not be enough to hold him back, however, and the most taxing question after he has run this afternoon may be how on earth John Dunlop ever managed to get him into his first handicap with a mark of 62.

In the 10-furlong handicap, meanwhile, Sir Effendi (3.20) could be the one now that Marcus Tregoning's stable is beginning to find its form.

* Tissifer heads the British challenge on the second day of the Galway Festival today. Mark Johnston's charge is one of 17 horses declared for a IR£42,500 handicap. The four-year-old, who will be ridden by Kevin Manning in the Listed contest, finished fourth behind Claxon at Newbury last time. Top-weight One Won One will be ridden by top jump jockey Paul Carberry. The only other British raider on the card is the Lucinda Russell-trained Mr Cavallo in the Albatross Steeplechase.

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