Race Time: 2.00pm Meeting: Glorious Goodwood
Distance: 1m 1f 192y
Full Race Name: Sky Bet First Race Special Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2)
As you would expect for a meeting of such magnitude we had a whole bucket full of early declarations (33 in total) though ended up with just eighteen to work on for race day as they look to compete for the £50,000 in guaranteed prize money. Poor old Fire Fighting (14/1) has been lumbered with top weight off a rating of 110 and seems to be continually punished for his gameness and consistency, but that’s the handicapper’s job I suppose. His six wins from forty races and close to £150,000 in prize money isn’t a bad return for the four year old son of Soldier Of Fortune who is as tough as they come, just like the majority of horses trained by Mark Johnston. His one win this season came at Redcar over this sort of trip, but the handicapper clobbered him with an additional six pounds for the win closely followed by another four after he finished second to Elbereth at Epsom, which may well be enough to diminish his chances. Jockey Paul Mulrennan gets on well with the gelding and he is not one to leave out of calculations, but even off a pound lower mark he may just about be in the handicapper’s grip, even if a big run is still a possibility. Collaboration (8/1) is a horse who has been in fine form all season, with wins at Windsor Epsom and Chester already before a sixth of thirteen to Mahsoob at Royal Ascot, which at first glance looks a lot worse than it really was. He was only beaten three lengths at the line, which isn’t that far in such a competitive and high profile race as the Wolferton Handicap, and it may not have been the handicapper’s attentions that ruined his chances. Left on the same rating for today, it seems pretty likely that he is exposed enough to stop him from winning, but if his price is large enough (and it ought to be as things stand), then he has place possibilities with David Probert booked early to ride, and is already on our short list at this early stage.
With Mount Logan (8/1) sitting so highly in the betting we need to at least mention the four year old with Luca Cumani hoping to add another prize to the King George won by Postponed last weekend. He sits pretty high in the weights as far as we are concerned and actually has to carry two pounds more than when beaten by Master Carpenter at York, and as his last win was over a mile and a half at Doncaster when keeping on well at the finish we are wary that this ten furlongs could all be a bit quick for him these days though admittedly the softer going will at least slow his rivals down a little.
As you may have noticed, Godolphin are in among the winners again in recent days (as you would expect with so many horses, and such a massive budget), and they may well be represented here by Elhaame (9/1), one of the few declared to arrive here on the back of a victorious run after a hard fought Windsor victory over a quarter of a mile or so further. Held up that day, the son of Acclamation came with a late run and then repelled all challengers, but does he have the speed to do the same thing over this trip? Now a five year old, he has won three races over this mile and a quarter so it should not prove an issue, while his added stamina could well be brought in to play in what seems sure to be a fast run race that will see others crying off as they hit the final furlong while he should be running on nicely. Lastly, we can remember the days where the handicappers would never put a Sir Michael Stoute horse in near the bottom of a handicap on principle (or so it seemed) but this is what has happened to Top Tug (15/2) here off a rating of only 92, his lowest since before he won in May last year at Newmarket. That was his last win despite three further attempts but the yard weren’t in form back in May when the son of Halling was last seen but more importantly, his win was on good to soft ground which he seems sure to encounter here. Ted Durcan rides the four year old gelding who may be well weighted here and at the odds could pull off a bit of an each way shock to bookmakers and punters alike?