Frankel himself struggled to preserve the dignity of Glorious Goodwood last year, when obliged to compete with the London Olympics. Today the fixture’s claims as the most charming ritual of the British Turf are threatened with dilution only by the weather forecast, which has rather too equivocal a look for the liking of either punters or aesthetes. The latter most cherish the swaying backdrop of cornfields and woodland when bathed in sunlight; while the former have more practical distaste for rain clouds.
Conditions overnight were just about perfect, a drought having been relieved over recent days to yield an official going report of good, good to firm in places. But connections of Aljamaaheer, favourite for the big race on the opening day, warn that he might be withdrawn if the rain anticipated today causes the terrain to deteriorate.
The colt looks the class act in the Bet365 Lennox Stakes, having managed a podium finish in consecutive Group One races before dropping to this tier to score readily at Ascot this month. As one who always travels with gusto, he should relish the reversion to seven furlongs round this sharp track, but easing conditions would be an issue, not least under his penalty.
The Hannon stable is always a formidable force at this meeting and Producer looks the most obvious of its three candidates, as a course winner and the choice of Richard Hughes. Then there is Fencing, who retains an air of unfinished business, but the value is Garswood (3.05). Impressive winner of the Free Handicap on his reappearance, the Yorkshire raider may not have absorbed that effort when a little flat in the 2,000 Guineas and is better judged on a rock-solid fourth in a 21-runner stampede for the Jersey Stakes last month. The going was probably firmer than ideal at Ascot and, receiving weight from his seniors, this powerful colt has relatively few miles on the clock and so remains entitled to progress.
Richard Fahey also has prospects in the other Group race on the opening day, through Supplicant, but the downhill five furlongs in the Molecomb Stakes could prove sharp enough for a colt who should stay a mile in time. Brown Sugar (2.30) was too free over a sixth furlong last time and could offer a bit of value, with Hughes having favoured Anticipated.
Channel 4 also broadcasts the first two of the week’s many bewildering handicaps, in all of which the draw and luck in running may prove vital. Strictly Silver and Nabucco seem to have had sound chances wrecked by stalls 18 and 17 in the opener. Reset City is thriving and could outrun her odds, but Blue Surf (1.55) is on home turf and shaped well before failing to stay a longer trip at Ascot.
Despite strong opposition from Beckhampton, through Silver Lime and Clowance Estate, Mark Johnston can resume his annual depredations by the South Coast through Oriental Fox (3.40). Arguably committed too soon when just collared in the Northumberland Plate, he had gone with conspicuous zest through the race.
CHRIS McGRATH’S NAP: Democretes (4.50 Goodwood)
NEXT BEST: Robert The Painter (4.00 Beverley)