There's less than a fortnight until the Qatar Goodwood Festival - aka Glorious Goodwood - begins. And the fields for all the big races are really starting to take shape.
The festival gets under way on Tuesday, July 31, when the highlight is the £500,000 G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup over two miles, which is also part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Stradivarius (John Gosden), successful in the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, heads the 17 remaining entries. Owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen, the four-year-old won the QatarGoodwood Cup in 2017 and this year is chasing the WH Stayers' Million, a bonus of £1 million offered by Weatherbys Hamilton which will be awarded to the horse who wins one of four prep races in May followed by the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the G1 QatarGoodwood Cup and the G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (York, August 24).
Also going forward is Torcedor (Jessica Harrington IRE), who was third to Stradivarius at Royal Ascot last time out.
The Queen has enjoyed two successes in the Qatar Goodwood Cup, courtesy of Apprentice (1965) and Gaulois (1966). This time around the owner/breeder could be represented by Call To Mind (William Haggas), who improved for the step up in trip when taking the G2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes over two miles at Belmont Park, USA, on June 8.
Also taking place on day one of the Qatar Goodwood Festival is the £300,000 G2 Qatar Lennox Stakes over seven furlongs. There are 37 entries remaining, including the last two winners of the contest - the 2016 scorer Dutch Connection and last year's shock victorBreton Rock (David Simcock). Also going forward is the G1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas runner-upTip Two Win (Roger Teal) and Expert Eye (Sir Michael Stoute), who was the impressive winner of the G3 Jersey Stakes over the same distance at Royal Ascot.
Sussex Stakes field looking strong
Thursday, August 2 is Ladies' Day at the Qatar Goodwood Festival and the feature contest is the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes over just short of 10 furlongs for fillies and mares. The 18 remaining entries include the heroines of the two British fillies' Classics - Billesdon Brook (Richard Hannon, successful in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas) and Forever Together(Aidan O'Brien IRE, winner of the Investec Oaks).
Newmarket handler William Haggas looks to hold a strong hand in the Qatar Nassau Stakes, being responsible for the progressive dual Listed winner Sea Of Class and Urban Fox, who got the better of Forever Together last time out in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.
Sir Michael Stoute, successful seven times in the Qatar Nassau Stakes, this time goes with the lightly-raced Veracious, third in the G1 Coronation Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot last time out.
John Gosden also boasts a formidable Qatar Nassau Stakes record, saddling the winner four times. He could be represented in 2018 by Coronet, who went down by a nose last time out in the 12-furlong G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
Also taking place on Ladies Day is the £300,000 G2 Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes over a mile and six furlongs for fillies and mares. The 23 entries going forward include God Given(Luca Cumani), the short-head runner-up in the G2 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock Park on Saturday, and the progressive Star Rock (Hughie Morrison).
Golden Mile and Stewards' Cup latest
Friday's big races
Battaash (Charlie Hills) was the sensational winner of the £300,000 G2 King George Qatar Stakes in 2017, enabling the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned sprinter to be rated the world's best five-furlong horse in the LONGINES World's Best Racehorse Rankings.
The four-year-old stars among 25 entries going forward for this renewal of the King George Qatar Stakes, along with Goodwood regular Take Cover (David Griffiths), the winner in 2014 and 2016.
The two big heritage handicaps at the Qatar Goodwood Festival are the £150,000 Golden Mile (Friday, August 3), which has 75 entries still in contention, and the six-furlong £250,000 Stewards' Cup (Saturday, August 4), which has 120 remaining entries.
There is a maximum field of 20 for the Golden Mile and a maximum field of 28 for the Stewards' Cup. Horses which miss out on a berth in the Stewards' Cup are eligible for the £75,000 Qatar Stewards' Sprint Handicap, the opening contest on Saturday, August 4.
All three G1 contests staged at the Qatar Goodwood Festival are part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
About the Qatar Goodwood Festival
With five days of thrilling action set against the magnificent backdrop of the rolling Sussex Downs countryside, the Qatar Goodwood Festival - popularly known as 'GloriousGoodwood' - is one of the highlights of the Flat racing season.
With its position as one of the largest race meetings in the world, the Qatar GoodwoodFestival is a spectacle that has to be experienced.
Elegant fashion combined with some of the greatest races in the world create a festival week like no other.
The 2018 Qatar Goodwood Festival runs from Tuesday, July 31 through to Saturday, August 4, inclusive. For tickets and hospitality, please visit Goodwood.com