Goodwood’s May Festival gets underway tomorrow, Thursday, May 24, and the three-day meeting offers a feast of action for racing fans, including Classic trials, a pair of Listed contests for older horses and competitive handicaps.
The £35,000 Height Of Fashion Stakes (3.45pm), run over just shy of 10 furlongs, headlines a seven-race card on the opening day of the May Festival and the Listed contest for three-year-old fillies has established itself as a leading pointer for future Group race success.
Subsequent five-time Group One heroine Snow Fairy took the spoils in 2010, while recent winners Michita (2008) and Beatrice Aurore (2011) also progressed to Pattern race success.
A field of seven for this year’s race includes the Mick Channon-trained Nayarra, a Group One winner in Italy last season, Newmarket Listed scorer Coquet, representing Hughie Morrison, and Godolphin’s Minidress, who took fourth in a Group Three at Newmarket last term for trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni.
Five runners are set to contest the feature race of the second day of the May Festival, the £35,000 Listed Casco Cocked Hat Stakes (3.45pm) over a mile and three furlongs.
The event for three-year-old colts and geldings has also proven to be a springboard to future big-race success, with the 2010 winner Rewilding establishing himself as one of the world’s leading middle-distance performers the following season with victories in the Dubai Sheema Classic and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
Masked Marvel subsequently captured the Ladbrokes St Leger following his triumph at Goodwood in 2011 and his trainer John Gosden has two representatives this year - Listed Newmarket Stakes third Michelangelo and Jungle Beat.
Charlie Hills has declared the well-regarded Perennial, while Andrew Balding runs Expense Claim, who makes a quick reappearance after completing a hat-trick with victory in a Newbury handicap on May 19. Polydamos, from the stable of Harry Dunlop, completes the line-up.
Saturday’s racing includes a pair of Listed contests for older horses, including the £35,000 Southern Daily Echo Tapster Stakes (4.25pm). James Fanshawe is set to be represented in the mile and a half contest by Dandino, who made a pleasing debut for the Newmarket handler when coming home third in a Listed race at Nottingham on April 11.
The five-year-old landed the Group Two Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in April, 2011, and was beaten a head on his only previous visit to Goodwood in the Group Three bet365 Gordon Stakes in July, 2010.
Fanshawe revealed: “Dandino is an intended runner in the Southern Daily Echo Tapster Stakes. He seems really well at the moment.
“I thought that he ran well at Nottingham. It was his first run for a while and he ran a nice first race of the season. Hayley Turner has ridden him at home and she takes the ride on Saturday.
“We will see how he runs on Saturday and then we can make a plan regarding his future races afterwards.”
Dandino’s opposition in the Southern Daily Echo Tapster Stakes may include the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sea Moon, who ended a progressive 2011 by taking second in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, in November.
Stoute could also be represented by Fiorente, who finished a close second in the Group Three bet365 Gordon Stakes last term, while Dubai Sheema Classic sixth Beaten Up may take his chance for William Haggas.
Both Fiorente and Beaten Up hold entries in Saturday’s other Listed contest, the 10-furlong £35,000 32Red Festival Stakes (2.45pm), which may also feature Royal Ascot winner Beachfire, representing John Gosden, and the Sir Henry Cecil-trained pair of Jet Away and World Domination.
A seven-race card on the third and final day of the May Festival also includes the £30,000 32Red.com Handicap (3.20pm). Trainer Alan King is hoping that star hurdler Grumeti can continue his excellent form with another bold display in the mile and a half contest.
The four-year-old received the accolade of top-rated two-mile novice hurdler in the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications on Tuesday following a superb campaign that culminated with victory in the Grade One Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in April.
He returned to the Flat at Ascot on May 12 and produced another excellent effort to comfortably take a mile and a half handicap.
King commented: “The plan is to run Grumeti at Goodwood on Saturday. He won well at Ascot and, while this seems a stronger race, he seems in good form at the moment.
“I don’t think that he is rated highly enough to get a run in the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot. He went up to a mark of 89 for winning at Ascot but the cut-off for the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap last year was 91, so I thought that I would try and get the figure up again.
“He has been a grand horse for us and it was great to be rated the top novice two-mile hurdler for the season. He’s been on the go for a while but he seems to be in good form - he worked this morning and seems happy.”
This year marks the return of the three-day May Festival at Goodwood for the first time since 2006.
The going at Goodwood is currently good, good to firm in places
Clerk of the Course Seamus Buckley commented: “The ground is drying out and I will put some water on the course this evening to maintain the existing conditions.
“I am pleased with the course, which looks in great order, and we are all looking forward to three days of good racing.”