Fox Hunt's love of the chase suggests he is ready to go distance
To reach for the stars is not always as remote an ambition as Frankel made it seem yesterday. Today's two big races, lacking truly dominant operators in their very different disciplines, could both demonstrate the proximity between the top handicappers and the ostensible elite.
That can hardly be a surprise, given the sport's warped prizemoney structure. For instance, several of those lining up for the Artemis Goodwood Cup – a Group Two prize – could contest twice as big a purse by returning to handicap company in the Betfred Ebor at York next month.
One is Fox Hunt (3.15), who has won both previous starts under the galvanic Silvestre De Sousa. The first was a valuable handicap at Epsom on Derby day; the second, a similar affair at Royal Ascot. He has since run a blinder under 10st at York, beaten only by a horse that enjoyed an easy lead, and the way he persevered in his pursuit suggests he could improve again over the extra distance today. It was also characteristic of horses trained by Mark Johnston, who has a corresponding record in this race.
Opinion Poll is favourite after getting closest to Fame And Glory in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. The winner that day is in a different class from this lot, but Opinion Poll may not be so effective over this shorter trip or, above all, on the drying ground.
At the other end of the spectrum is a downhill dash over the bare five furlongs of the Audi King George Stakes. Swiss Diva only beat one home on her reappearance, but only faded late after showing all the speed that powered her transformation last year. She is respected, but preference is for another upgraded handicapper in Noble Storm (2.45). He made a successful transition to listed company at Haydock last time, and his energetic style is ideally suited to this track – as he showed when an impressive winner on his only previous visit.
The other Group race on the card, the i-Shares Lillie Langtry Stakes, is strictly a tier below the others but is arguably the most interesting, with the three youngest in the field receiving valuable weight and all progressing fast. It would be silly to pretend to know the limits of their improvement, not least as each is entitled to relish the extra distance, but as things stand Field Of Dreams (3.45) has probably achieved most.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Dimension (4.55 Goodwood) Warrants another chance after bumping into a handicap 'blot' last time, and prevented by traffic on previous start from showing this trip is probably his best.
Fulgur (2.15 Goodwood) Hammered 10lbs for beating another progressive type at Newmarket last time but his canny trainer clearly reckons he can defy his revised mark before stepping up in grade.
One to watch
Forte Dei Marmi (Luca Cumani) Hinted at a revival at Goodwood on Tuesday, little luck in the straight as he attempted to close from off a quickening gallop.
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