The complexion of the Festival has changed with all the rain and a lot of runners could struggle in Thursday’s opener – the 1m 1f handicap at 1.50pm.
Two that shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the softer ground are Kings Gift trained by Michael Dods who ran in the French 2,000 Guineas and William Haggas’ Addeybb. Kings Gift is very highly thought of by connections and might just have snuck in here on a reasonable rating. Some of his two-year-old form looks good and he should run a big race.
Addeybb is by Pivotal, whose progeny have a good record on soft ground. He’s won his last two races and will relish the underfoot conditions and is bound to be popular with punters with Ryan Moore in the plate.
The Group 3 Fillies’ Stakes at 2.25pm sees Endless Time head the overnight market. The Godolphin filly ran well when fourth in the Yorkshire Cup behind Dartmouth but disappointed in the Ascot Gold Cup. This is more her level and she has solid form on soft ground.
One I like at a big price is Ralph Beckett’s Diamonds Pour Moi. She’s looking to bounce back after her seasonal debut at Chester didn’t go to plan but was a heavy ground winner at Saint-Cloud last November in a Listed contest.
The Richmond Stakes 3pm over 6f for two-year-olds has plenty of Royal Ascot form on display. William Haggas’ Headway who finished second in the Coventry Stakes will be popular but Cardsharp has some really good form including when third at Royal Ascot in The Norfolk Stakes behind Sioux Nation and Santry.
Mark Johnston loves a winner at Goodwood and did us a favour yesterday with Londinium.
Cardsharp got a 3lb penalty for his subsequent win at Newmarket after Ascot. That form is strong and he deserves to be favourite.
However, Charlie Hills’ Nebo won on soft ground over 6f at Newbury and the ability to handle soft ground will be key here.
Race of the week
The Nassau Stakes at 3.35pm is one of the races of the week for me as the three-year-old fillies and mares take on the older horses. Winter is a dual 1,000 Guineas winner, Queen’s Trust is a Breeders Cup winner and Nezwah was really impressive at the Curragh in the Pretty Polly Stakes and is closely matched with So Mi Dar on last year’s running at Yarmouth.
I expect Aidan O’ Brien’s Winter to confirm her superiority with an authoritive display.
Over in Ireland, the Galway Hurdle 4.35pm has attracted a maximum field as usual and this big Summer prize looks ultra-competitive. I’m drawn to Max Dynamite even though he hasn’t run over hurdles since finishing second in this contest in 2015 before going on to finish second in the Melbourne Cup that year.
I usually add 45lbs to a horse’s rating on the Flat to judge how they will fare over obstacles. Max Dynamite was rated 116 on his last run on the Flat when he disappointed at Royal Ascot. Add 45lbs to that rating and you get 161 – 20lbs ahead of his 141 hurdles rating for Thursday’s contest.
That gives him an edge and he is Ruby Walsh’s pick from a couple of entries by Team Mullins.
It is hard not to see a JP McManus-owned runner involved in the finish – but which one? Barry Geraghty has gone for Tigris River who was fifth in this last year while David Mullins’ rides last year’s third Princely Conn.
However, I’m going to side with Timiyan – who joined Gordon Elliot from Dermot Weld recently to be the best of JP’s runners. He just has to be a player carrying 10st 4lbs.