For the first time since its inception in 1840, the Stewards' Cup is run on the Saturday of the meeting this year, but there the changes end. The six-furlong sprint, contested by handicappers enmeshed in various form lines, once again provides backers with the ultimate test.
Perhaps the most appropriate winner of the event, given the trappy circumstances, would be Ron Hodges's Hard To Figure, though the horse that has most of the credentials needed is one of two other animals saddled by the Somerton trainer, HOW'S YER FATHER (nap 3.15). The seven-year-old is well handicapped, well drawn and well suited to the course, which provided him with the eighth win of his career last month.
While the Stewards' Cup provides the most funds at Goodwood, the honour will go to the filly successful in the Nassau Stakes. The improving Lyphard's Delta is unlikely to have made large enough jumps since her latest win in a Newmarket handicap and even her trainer, Henry Cecil, is hoping for a place at best. Most money will probably be attracted to another Newmarket filly, Clive Brittain's Sueboog.
The Oaks fourth may not be able to cope with yet another resident of racing's capital, though, and the value here may lie with Michael Stoute's Dancing Bloom (next best, 2.40), who produced a surprisingly good effort when second to Niche on her seasonal debut three weeks ago.
The first televised race appears to be a match between Gabr (2.00) and Fitzcarraldo, who has more fours to his name this season than an Australian opener. Slight preference is for the former, who made a satisfactory comeback behind Thourios at Newbury earlier this month to confirm his splitting of Barathea and White Muzzle at Newmarket last October was no fluke.
The statistic gurus will be scrutinising horses trained by Roger Charlton and David Loder at Newmarket's meeting. Charlton, who was on the mark yet again with Western Cape at Goodwood yesterday, has a strike-rate of 26 per cent, second only to Henry Cecil in the top 20 of the trainers' championship. If big-race entries are anything to go by, the Beckhampton trainer's Forest Gazelle (3.20) must go close on his debut.
Loder's strike-rate is even more impressive, and the Newmarket man has just about already secured the title of leading freshman trainer. He should score with Ocara (3.50).
Others to consider at Headquarters are Hever Golf Rose (4.20) in the nursery and Sharjah (4.50), who is better than his form figures indicate.
The best quality animals on show this weekend will be at the opening of the Deauville August season. Home horses in Kenbu, Elizabeth Bay and Zieten will cross swords with visitors such as Britain's Holly Golightly and Ancestral Dancer, and Vincent O'Brien's College Chapel, the favourite for tomorrow's Prix Maurice de Gheest.
The best loved animals, though, will be the returning jumpers, who compete at Newton Abbot and Market Rasen today and Lingfield's mixed meeting tomorrow. Britain's third Sunday experiment after Doncaster and Cheltenham is mixed in codes and surfaces, with four of the seven races being run on the all-weather track.
At the end of a week which has seen the brief European career of Zafonic hit the buffers, it is reassuring to see the old chasing faces like Skipping Tim, who, at the age of 14, embarks on yet another season. Here, for once, familiarity breeds contentment.
Lingfield and Windsor cards
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