There are many famous quotes about drinking, however the most apt for Galway/Goodwood week is this one from Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s collection of essays titled Heretics: “Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.”
Wise old Gilbert Keith, more commonly known as G K Chesterton, shares his name with the horse trained by Charlie Appleby who is better than he was able to show in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and who could outrun big odds in the Betfred Mile Handicap on Friday. But who else could rise to the top before then?
Monday – Galway
Lagostovegas failed to fire on her first start for Willie Mullins but bolted up back on the Flat at Killarney last time. A 17 lb hike for that win won’t make things easy for her, but she looks a different horse to the one that was seventh in this same race 12 months ago and, with her confidence boosted, looks capable of another big performance in the Connacht Hotel Handicap. Her participation also reminds me that I never replied to that email about my big win in the Nigerian lottery…
Tuesday – Goodwood
It’s one thing knowing what Big Orange is going to run to (11 of his last 14 performance ratings have been around 120), and the way he’ll do it – from the front – but actually stopping the steamroller is something else entirely. But the rest can’t just hope he has an off day, as his record of consistency, as well as his record in the Goodwood Cup (2 from 2), makes the likelihood of Big Orange dropping his guard as improbable as any pilot error, reunited with Frankie Dettori.
Wednesday – Goodwood
Ribchester was fourth-favourite for the Sussex last year, behind three Guineas winners in the market, and – beaten only by The Gurkha and Galileo Gold – took his place at the top table, and ever since then he’s worked his way around to the head of that top table.
He holds all the Aces, and Churchill comes on the back of playing his worst hand. Churchill has to recover his Guineas form and then some, and the speed-skating track at Goodwood is more of a perfect playground for Ribchester, who kills with a single strike, in contrast to the slow strangulation that’s copyright Churchill.
For all those reasons, it’s a good bet that the Sussex this year features less of a duel and more of a jewel on the Downs, a blue sapphire that’s hard and lustrous.
Thursday – Galway
This year hasn’t really gone to plan for Dermot Weld, but there have been signs of late that the tide might be starting to turn.
Dalton Highway was unlucky to bump into the well handicapped Intrepid Prince at this meeting last year, and he built on that promise with a convincing win at Navan in August and then very much caught the eye when a never-nearer third under an inexperienced apprentice on his return at Naas. He looks to have a bit in hand off his current BHA mark of 78 in the Guinness Draught Handicap.