Battle Royal worthy of the name

Glorious Goodwood is a contradictory experience for this writer – I adore watching the sport and hardly ever wage war with the bookmakers. Like Epsom, it seems a ludicrous place to host top-class racing with its’ relentless turns, undulations and camber.

For the last two seasons it has also hosted a self-proclaimed ‘Duel of the Downs.’ Last season’s contest turned into a non-event as Canford Cliffs failed to get anywhere near the greatest racehorse ever to set foot on the turf but this time around the Sussex Stakes shoot-out between Dawn Approach and Toronado produced a truly stirring spectacle and not only lived up to but exceeded expectations.Dawn Approach and Jim Bolger (580 x 350)

It matters not a jot that Toronado turned around Royal Ascot form with the Bolger colt. What matters is that for the second successive time these two high-class colts treated us to a magnificent battle royal. It may well be that the decision went in favour of the Hannon inmate because Richard Hughes clearly rides Goodwood better than anyone else but that doesn’t matter either.

18/04/13 Second day of Newmarket Racecourses' Craven Meeting, with the feature race the Craven Stakes - Rowley Mile, Newmarket Racecourses, Newmarket

With the score reading Dawn Approach 2 Toronado 1, the victory of the latter means that their fight for supremacy will continue apace with no quarter given. Nothing is expected in Round 4 other than another pulsating contest – a contest that has without question become the highlight of the Flat racing season which was otherwise in danger of becoming rather mundane and low-key at the highest level. Thanks to both Messrs Hannon and Bolger for their boldness in taking one another on so captivatingly.

The other performance of note in Goodwood week was the superb performance of Wild Coco in landing the Lillie Langtry for the second successive season – both times without a prep run. She’s clearly a talented lady and will be a leading challenger for Group 1 honours if able to go to work on the soft/heavy ground she craves. The Yorkshire Oaks is an obvious target but she would be an Arc possible in my book if Longchamp came up heavy in the autumn.

Elsewhere, hopefully one or two will have followed up last week’s piece on Rosie Jessop by supporting her success on the grand old veteran Baan at Yarmouth in the week – another finely judged tactical ride. Sadly, Jessop will not be making her way up to Carlisle on Monday evening to participate in the evening programme for which the Carlisle executive deserves massive credit.

It takes guts and conviction to put on a six-race card for lady riders  only and it’s excellent to see them rewarded with a competitive night’s racing which pits amateurs and professionals against one another. Let’s hope the weather remains set fair for the evening which concludes with a Ronan Keating concert.


Finally, another offer of congratulations – this time to Tony Martin for his Galway exploits with Busted Tycoon. To win once is hard, to win twice is very tough but to win three times during the Galway week is a remarkable achievement – a piece of theatre in a long but always absorbingly special week of Irish sport.

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