Racing: Gothenberg will not defer to Esteem

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The Independent Online
Memo to John Birt: if one arm of your organisation is using its - that is, our - money to sponsor one of today's most significant races, might it not make sense to ensure that the other arm gives it as much exposure as possible? Apparently not, since the March Stakes, an important St Leger trial with a pounds 20,000 purse subsidised by BBC Radio 5, is not among the races which BBC1 will broadcast live from Goodwood this afternoon. We should all claim a rebate on our licence fees.

It says much about the relative quality of today's meetings, however, that even without the March Stakes, the BBC emerges as the clear winner, since the card at Newmarket which will be covered by Channel 4 is average in the extreme. Goodwood, by contrast, offers the Group Two Celebration Mile, with three previous Group One winners in the field, and two fascinating handicaps, each with a hot favourite who demands to be opposed.

In the feature event, Mark Of Esteem, who won the 2,000 Guineas back in May, will attempt to become the first of 1996's British Classic winners to win a subsequent race of any description. This is hardly a record which reflects credit on the three-year-old generation, and it would be a particular embarrassment if today's race were to fall to Bishop Of Cashel or Restructure. They are the only older horses in the seven-runner field, which also includes Alhaarth and Beauchamp King, the winners of the Dewhurst Stakes and Racing Post Trophy respectively as juveniles.

Bishop Of Cashel, James Fanshawe's lightly raced colt, will go to post with every chance, not least if the elements add more rain to the inch which fell at Goodwood on Thursday night. At the odds on offer, though, it is impossible to ignore the claims of Gothenberg (next best 3.50), who will start the outsider of the field and is available at 16-1 (Coral) this morning. Mark Johnston's colt has struggled in Group One company on his last two outings, but had previously held off all challengers in a Group Two event at the Curragh. Front-runners often go well at Goodwood, and that 16-1 quote is far too big.

Goodwood's two televised handicaps both feature runners who won impressively just seven days ago, but will start at unrealistic prices as a result. Cool Edge in particular is worth taking on in the seven-furlong rated handicap, since last week's good win at Newbury followed a significant break, and horses frequently disappoint when turned out too swiftly after a lay-off.

Akil, second to Cool Edge last week, has a chance to reverse those placings, but it is Saseedo (2.45) who may be ready to recapture his best form now that the ground has started to ease.

The 16-runner sprint handicap has another favourite at a painfully short price, Samwar, winner of the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon last weekend. A low draw is almost invariably an advantage at Goodwood when the going is slow, and should be more so today with La Petite Fusee, a confirmed front-runner, due to emerge from stall four.

Samwar is reasonably berthed in seven, but stopwatch experts were not impressed by last week's victory and he must be opposed at just 4-1. La Petite Fusee and Wildwood Flower both make some appeal, but it is the former's stablemate, CRYSTAL HEIGHTS (nap 3.15), who must be backed at 16-1. The winner of his last three races, Crystal Heights goes very well at Brighton, and as Shikari's Son demonstrated in the Stewards' Cup last year, horses who act there often run well at Goodwood too.

Someone at the BBC will, we must hope, remember to video the March Stakes, in which Summer Spell (2.15) will be the best value to beat another St Leger candidate, Sharaf Kabeer. At Newmarket, however, only Major Change (3.40) makes any appeal.

Windsor's evening meeting, the last of the year in Britain, includes the intriguing Winter Hill Stakes, with Storm Trooper, Annus Mirabilis and Salmon Ladder among the runners. The most interesting evening race of the weekend, though, is the Arlington Million in Chicago tomorrow night, in which Prince Of Andros (David Loder), Glory Of Dancer (Paul Kelleway) and Needle Gun (Clive Brittain) form an unusually strong British challenge. Strategic Choice, in tomorrow's Grand Prix de Deauville, is another Bank Holiday tourist who may return with a valuable souvenir.


1986 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95

Fate of the favourite: 5 3 2 3 1 4 1 4 3 1

Winner's starting price: 8-1 5-2 16-1 2-1 5-2 100-30 1-2 10-1 5-2 5-4

Winner's place in betting: 3 2 0 2 1 3 1 0 2 1

Winner's draw 7 3 4 5 1 3 1 5 2 3

Profit or loss to pounds 1 stake: Favourites -pounds 2.75. Second Favourites level

Percentage of winners placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in previous race: 80%

Shortest-priced winner: Selkirk 1-2 (1992)

Longest-priced winner: Prince Rupert 16-1 (1988)

Top trainer: B Hills (3): Prince Rupert 16-1 (1988) Distant Relative (1989)

Bold Russian (1991)

Top jockey: W Carson (3): Bold Russian (1991) Mehthaaf (1994) Harayir (1995)