Glorious Goodwood: Late flourish decisive for Masterpiece

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The Independent Online

The only way they might have ignored a basic axiom more brazenly would have been by putting a cart in front of their horses. Instead Frankie Dettori and Alan Munro chose to neglect that essential precept of jockeyship: more haste, less speed.

The Cantor Spreadfair Sussex Stakes is not a race these fine riders will recall with much satisfaction. Their hectic duel for the lead exposed the two runners shortest in the betting, Echo Of Light and Araafa, to a scalding finish from Court Masterpiece, who was still restrained in the rear on the home turn.

As the leaders tired, Jimmy Fortune unchained his mount halfway up the straight. Court Masterpiece hurtled two lengths clear, and that was that. Soviet Song, so weak in the market beforehand, made the first two for the third year running, half a length in front of the frustrating Rob Roy, who finally introduced the calibre of his homework to a wider audience.

He, too, had emerged from the back of the field, while Araafa and Echo Of Light faded into fifth and sixth of the seven runners. "They went very quick, and that played into my hands," Fortune admitted.

At six, this might be considered a fairly eye-opening performance from Court Masterpiece. Certainly everything fell right for him on this singular track, over which he has now won four times. Equally he was not so much hampered as bulldozed when second over the straight mile at Ascot last time, and does seem to have ripened to a new peak this summer.

Ed Dunlop will saddle the favourite for the meeting's other Group One race, Ouija Board in the Vodafone Nassau Stakes on Saturday, and would like to take both horses to the Breeders' Cup in the autumn.

"He was nearly knocked over at Ascot, but that's history and he is now one of the best milers in Europe," the trainer said. "He's very good round here, and the key to him is that he can quicken so well, and did that off a decent pace today. He could stay at a mile but I still think he could be a Group One horse on soft ground at six furlongs."

There is no mistaking the innate speed of Strategic Prince, who narrowly held Duke Of Marmalade in the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes. Being out of a staying mare, he is considered "odds-on" to stay a mile and beyond by his trainer, Paul Cole - but you can only believe that when you see it, given the slickness he showed over seven furlongs round this sharp track.

This colt has been an eloquent advertisement for the subtle handling of Eddie Ahern - who rode two more winners on the card - and also for his young sire, Dansili, as well as a reminder of the way Paul Cole used to harvest these big juvenile prizes.

"We were drawn wide and had to commit a bit early," the trainer said. "He's a very mature horse with a lot of speed."

This race has announced many Classic horses over the years, not least Sir Percy last summer and Shamardal in 2004. This time it may prove that the runner-up has most scope to reach that level, having betrayed his inexperience on this perplexing track.

Aidan O'Brien was justifiably delighted with the way Duke Of Marmalade finally organised a finish and promised that he would have learned a great deal. In the circumstances, anyone snapping up 25-1 from Coral or Blue Square for the Stan James 2,000 Guineas may be showing more speed than haste.

McCoy blow

Tony McCoy, champion jockey over jumps for the past 11 seasons, broke his right wrist in a hurdling fall at Galway yesterday. He is likely to be sidelined until October.

Salt was rubbed into his wounds when Far From Trouble, his intended ride, won the Galway Plate under Roger Loughran.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Il Penseroso

(Stratford 4.35)

NB: Yeats

(Goodwood 3.15)

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