Lord Shanakill blossoms late in Lennox success

The contrast with the thundering, dangerous maelstrom of racing round Goodwood is not confined to its setting. Yes, this twisting, undulating track is always a white-knuckle ride for horsemen – and, vicariously, for punters. But the best of them know to borrow the serenity of the famous panorama beyond: the gentle hills, the calm woodlands, the rolling cornfields.

Sure enough, consecutive big races on the opening day turned on the finesse of masters who have long been especially at home with this unique environment. Henry Cecil sent out his 65th winner at this meeting as Lord Shanakill continued to bloom in the seasoned hands of his new trainer; while Zebedee's impudent success bore the copyright of his rider, Richard Hughes.

Lord Shanakill, in his first season with Cecil, had been dropped in class to win at Chester earlier in the month and the dividends in his confidence were transparent in the Lennox Stakes – sponsored, like all the Group races yesterday, by Betfair. The heavily backed French raider, Dalghar, seemed to have them cooked halfway up the straight, but Lord Shanakill and Tom Queally just ran him down inside the last, while holding off a wild finish from the rear by Cat Junior.

The winner had an accomplished record for Karl Burke, prior to his suspension, but seemed to have reached a plateau until now. He is becoming reminiscent of Twice Over, whose own rejuvenation last year incorporated a small race here and culminated in third place in the Breeders' Cup Classic itself. "Chester did his confidence the world of good," Queally said. "He is definitely entitled to another crack at the top level. The owners have always believed in the horse – and so have I."

This has always been one of Cecil's favourite meetings and nothing should be read into his absence. He had leapt out of bed at 4.15am, having brought forward his gallops schedule in order to come down and stay later in the week. (He saddles Midday in the Blue Square Nassau Stakes on Saturday.)

Richard Hannon is another trainer rolling back the years, albeit he professed that watching Hughes is liable to abbreviate his life expectancy. "If he keeps riding like that I'm going to have a heart attack," he declared, after Zebedee was produced with studied insouciance in the final strides of the Molecomb Stakes.

Hughes had made his intentions plain before the race, attributing this colt's sole defeat in the Norfolk Stakes to incautious tactics. But few other jockeys would be so comfortable detaching themselves from rivals hurtling over five downhill furlongs here. Hughes pounced on Stone Of Folca to win by just a neck, but never felt the faintest alarm. "I was actually closer than I planned because they didn't go mad," he said. "He's got a super little dash, it's explosive but only lasts about 50 metres and you have to save it to the end. We've always said that he was our fastest two-year-old. He's small, but we'll make hay while the sun shines."

Hannon reckons he can last a sixth furlong and proposed the Gimcrack Stakes at York, where John Best will take on older horses with Stone Of Folca in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.

A rematch at the same meeting is likely for both horses involved in a desperate finish to the Gordon Stakes, but the winner is unlikely to take their rivalry a step further in the St Leger. Jeremy Noseda confessed "huge doubts" about Rebel Soldier lasting the longer trip in the Classic, and wonders if he might even be better dropped back to 10 furlongs. For now he will persevere over 12, in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, but the way Dandino closed a four-length deficit to a head implied that he is better qualified for the Leger. Arctic Cosmos, third after struggling with the track, is also set for the Voltigeur.

The last two Gordon winners, Conduit and Harbinger, both went on to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes the following summer. And Hughes, wearing the Harbinger colours on Martyr, completed a double with another elaborately cool ride in the last. Really, when he's like this, you can't tell where the race stops, and the exquisite scenery begins.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Soorah (7.30 Sandown) Showed promise in maidens, and produced immediate dividends stepped into handicap company at Chepstow last time to win with far more in hand than the handicapper has allowed with a 5lb rise.

Next best

Layline (5.45 Goodwood) Cheekpieces applied after he failed to break down a seasoned rival at Lingfield last time, but he did pull clear of the rest after travelling well and the key could be this drop in trip. Lightly raced, and entitled to improve past more exposed rivals here.

One to watch

Mass Rally (J H M Gosden) Looked sure to win when going clear at the furlong pole at Ascot on Saturday, but had attacked earlier than other principals in a race run at an excessive gallop, and was just run down into fourth. Has a speedy pedigree and might be worth restoring to 7f.

Where the money's going

The sponsors make Dandino 8-1 for the St Leger following his powerful finish in the Gordon Stakes. The winner, Rebel Soldier, is unlikely to go to Doncaster and can be backed at 14-1 while Arctic Cosmos, third after struggling with the track, is 16-1.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test