Racing: Chic doubtful for Goodwood feature

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The Independent Online

The unseasonal threat to Goodwood's three-day August fixture, which starts this afternoon, receded yesterday as the clouds parted. Sunshine and a drying wind did their best for the underfoot conditions on the downland track, which had been rendered almost unraceable by freak deluges.

The unseasonal threat to Goodwood's three-day August fixture, which starts this afternoon, receded yesterday as the clouds parted. Sunshine and a drying wind did their best for the underfoot conditions on the downland track, which had been rendered almost unraceable by freak deluges.

"We've had the day we wanted," said a relieved Seamus Buckley, the assistant clerk of the course. "It hasn't rained and the ground has dried out. It will be soft, no better than that, but as it stands it is perfectly raceable. The one heavy patch that was giving us concern is no longer."

Rain is still forecast for Sussex, but not of the same intensity as early in the week. "We had 50 millimetres [2in] from Monday until Wednesday," added Buckley. "Not just any rain. We were talking biblical storms here." Only an overnight repeat of God's wrath would prompt a morning inspection.

Seven were declared yesterday for the fixture's Group 2 feature, tomorrow's Celebration Mile, but a weather watch is still in force for one of the leading contenders, Chic, recent impressive winner of the Hungerford Stakes in the Cheveley Park Stud silks. Feeling secure on her feet is of particular import to the progressive four-year-old filly, who had a bad experience at Royal Ascot, when she was almost brought down, and she will not be risked on a bog.

"The going is a concern," admitted the Cheveley Park Stud manager Chris Richardson yesterday. "She showed at Newbury that she is not inconvenienced by ease in the ground, but very soft ground is another matter. She is in very good form and we would very much like to run at Goodwood as another step up the ladder. But there would be no point in denting her confidence again." If the Sir Michael Stoute-trained daughter of Machiavellian is denied a run, the Group 1 Matron Stakes at the Curragh on 11 September is her next entry.

Saturday's other chief protagonist, Nayyir, will line up no matter what and is the 8-11 favourite with the sponsors. Gerard Butler's charge, something of a course specialist, is seeking compensation after a narrow defeat in last month's Sussex Stakes.

"I hope the ground does not go desperate," said Butler's racing secretary, Chris McGrath, "but he has run well on soft ground. I think we set the standard. There is probably more to come from Chic, but ours has run only 17 times, which isn't a great deal for a six-year-old, and he is entitled to be better again this year." The other runners include Hurricane Alan and Passing Glance, both down the field in the Sussex Stakes, German 2,000 Guineas winner Brunel and Court Masterpiece.

Depressing meteorology apart, that the summer is drawing to a close was emphasised yesterday by the publication of the entries for the Autumn Double at Newmarket, the Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch Handicaps. The dual Gold Cup winner Royal Rebel is among those nominated for the latter.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Palatinate

(Newmarket 1.15)

NB: Merchant

(Newmarket 2.50)

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