Long view points to River Times

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The Independent Online

The William Hill Mile at Goodwood this afternoon is possibly as close as racing ever gets to being a one-armed bandit on legs. The starter will press his button, the reels will spin as 22 horses take a giddy right-handed ride around the downs, at which point four names will pop up in the frame. And as anyone who has played a fruit machine in a betting shop will know, if you are praying for a bell or a cherry, you are guaranteed to end up with a lemon.

The William Hill Mile at Goodwood this afternoon is possibly as close as racing ever gets to being a one-armed bandit on legs. The starter will press his button, the reels will spin as 22 horses take a giddy right-handed ride around the downs, at which point four names will pop up in the frame. And as anyone who has played a fruit machine in a betting shop will know, if you are praying for a bell or a cherry, you are guaranteed to end up with a lemon.

Consider the statistics. This race was first run in 1987, when it was known as the Golden Mile (William Hill, who know a good thing when they see one, picked up the sponsorship last year). After 13 runnings, punters are still waiting for their first successful favourite, but have had to endure winners at odds of 66-1, 20-1, 15-1, and three at 14-1. This is clearly not a race in which you should accept a short price about anything.

It could fall to any one of three horses to attempt to beat the favourites' hoodoo this afternoon. William Hill have three 6-1 co-favourites in their early list, Caribbean Monarch, El Gran Papa and John Ferneley, and while all three have apparently sound chances on the book, there are good reasons to oppose them too.

El Gran Papa has a poor draw in stall three, which will surely leave him out in the middle of the track and trying to come too wide around the tight home turn. John Ferneley seems to run his best races over a straight mile, and Goodwood could not be more different to Doncaster and Ascot, the courses where he has won the Lincoln and finished second in the Hunt Cup in his two outings this year. Caribbean Monarch has a good draw, but is usually held up, and may not have the running style to exploit it.

Ignore these three names, and the good news is that you are already into double-figure territory, where Calcutta in particular would have been of interest had he not been drawn in stall six. He is worth a small saver, since he is very fairly weighted on his best form and Michael Hills may find a charmed run from somewhere, but at the early prices, the choice has to be RIVER TIMES (nap 3.50) at a top-priced 28-1.

Tim Easterby won this race two years ago with For Your Eyes Only, and River Times arrives at Goodwood with recent form including an excellent run in the Hunt Cup, in which he finished eighth after leading the unfavoured stands-side group until the final furlong. At such a big price, he has an excellent each-way chance.

Far Cry will be a solid favourite for the Goodwood Cup after his brave second to Kayf Tara in the Gold Cup at Ascot. That was a tough race, however, and if he is still feeling the effects he may struggle to hold off Rainbow High (next best 3.20), who won last year's Chester Cup and ran well to finish fifth under top weight in this year's renewal.

Barry Hills, Rainbow High's trainer, is slowly turning his season around after a poor start, and he has another solid chance with Out Of Reach (2.15) in the Oak Tree Stakes. In the Richmond Stakes, Endless Summer (2.45) should confirm the promise of his debut at Newbury, where he was backed like a certainty, and won accordingly.

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