The laboured manner of his success here last year did not especially imply that Conduit would be winning a King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes 51 weeks later. On the face of it, then, the relative felicity of his stablemate's own performance in the Betfair Gordon Stakes yesterday suggests that Harbinger is a colt going places. That may well be so, but in the short term he will be taking a rather different path.
For a start, whereas Conduit won the Ladbrokes St Leger on his next start, Harbinger will now take in another traditional trial for that race, the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York next month. Having been sidelined by a muscle tear since his maiden success at Chester in May, he will be expected to make substantial progress for his race here. But the way he quickened clear, in a sprint finish, suggested that the Leger might not particularly play to his strengths.
His family tree certainly permits the possibility that the extra distance and long straight at Doncaster could drain his reserves of stamina. Even so, the sponsors conformed with every other bookmaker in promoting Harbinger to favourite, in their case to 3-1 from 7-1.
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of both colts, acknowledged that Harbinger is not necessarily equipped to follow Conduit to Doncaster. "I have always wondered, looking at his pedigree, whether we have a St Leger horse here," he said. "I wouldn't be sure – don't back him yet. Let's go for the Voltigeur and then see. He's not really tuned, and there is improvement in him. He wakes up when he gets to the racecourse. He's not an elaborate worker, so that makes it difficult to get an edge on him. But he has class and I loved the way he travelled."
Ryan Moore said he hit the front sooner than planned, but there was never any way back into the race for Firebet or Urban Poet, who both kept on after being caught flat-footed. Mark Johnston, trainer of the latter, was "staggered" to see so many top jockeys "playing silly buggers early in the race". Certainly the way he rallied for third suggested that Urban Poet might yet develop into a Leger candidate himself, albeit he would have to be supplemented.
Moore and Stoute had the horse to beat in the Betfair Lennox Stakes in Main Aim, but a hard race in the July Cup left a palpable mark and he eventually trailed in last after forcing much of the running. Instead Finjaan crowned the return to form of Marcus Tregoning, at what has always been his favourite meeting. It was only Sunday that Tregoning saddled his first winner in three months, after a virus prompted him to shut down his stable.
But the other Group race, the Betfair Molecomb Stakes, did go to the form choice, Monsieur Chevalier weaving through to win his sixth race of the season under Richard Hughes – a rider in the form of his life. "He's nerve-racking to ride because he always starts slowly and all of a sudden you're eight or ten lengths off the leaders," Hughes said. "But as soon as you put him between two horses he takes off."
One of the few flaws about this meeting is that it always clashes with the Galway Festival. Today Paul Nicholls bids to repeat his William Hill Galway Plate success last year with Roby De Cimbre, winner of four chases in his novice season.
Karl Burke, warned off for 12 months last week, has failed in his plea for a stay of that suspension pending an appeal to the British Horseracing Authority. Lord Shanakill, his stable star, will instead be saddled in the BGC Sussex Stakes today by his father-in-law, Alan Jarvis.
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Braveheart Move (4.0 Goodwood) Everything in place: strong physique, good genes, and unexposed after just one start at this trip. He is also fresh after the lay-off shared by so many from his stable, in really good form now, and the way he bolted up at Chester in May implies that there is plenty still to come.
Alsace Lorraine (5.10 Goodwood) Possibility of soft ground the only concern for this filly, who was caught out by a false pace at Ascot last time but had previously impressed as well ahead of the handicapper – and the extra furlong today is sure to suit on pedigree.
One to watch
Sweet Lightning (WR Muir) had looked handicapped to win a decent prize on both his previous starts this season and was desperately unlucky not to do so at Goodwood yesterday, trapped at the rear until threading through just too late.
Where the money's going
Deutschland is 5-1 from 7-1 with the sponsors for the William Hill Galway Hurdle tomorrow.Reuse content