O’Brien Reels them in to land Gordon Stakes at Goodwood

It's been an absorbing start to the week's racing
It's been an absorbing start to the week's racing

It was a day of Solow and sorrow at Goodwood – all everything in between.

Solow provided the highlight of the festival so far with a thrilling victory in the Qatar Sussex Stakes, but later the mood changed when it was announced legendary racing broadcaster Sir Peter O’Sullevan had died at the age of 97.

Those stories are dealt with elsewhere on the website but here is a round-up of the rest of the day-two Goodwood action.

What you see is not always what you get, apparently. Aidan O’Brien’s first thoughts after Highland Reel justified 7/4 favouritism to take the Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes, one of the season’s accepted St Leger trials, were that this mile and a half was as far as the colt really wanted to go. But after a debrief with his son Joseph, the Galileo colt’s rider, he revised the view.

“I thought towards the end the horse was running on empty,” he said, “but Joseph didn’t think that. So what it looks like and what he felt are different. We won’t make a decision about the St Leger yet, but if he did go to Doncaster, he’d go straight there.”

Highland Reel tracked the pace before making his move, becoming short of room as Disegno, ultimately third, held his own line. But once clear he stayed on dourly to catch Scottish and was a length and a half clear at the line, with five lengths back to Disegno.

“He is still a bit babyish and will be one for next year,” said O’Brien senior. “He lives on his nerves a bit - he’s a free sweater - but he is getting better. He relaxed early today and had a lovely position but then when the other horse started closing in he had to be strong to hold his position and that can be tough on a horse, take a lot out of him.

“We were just afraid of the energy he could have lost by holding his position but he’s a hardy type and he was brave.”

It was Highland Reel’s second victory at Goodwood, after last year’s Vintage Stakes. “I was out early and had plenty of horse,” said Joseph O’Brien, “and when you have the horse the gaps come. He tries hard and had a nice position. I was a bit worried early doors as they went slow but, in fairness to him, he tries and handles this track well.”

Father and son combination of Nigel and Willie Twiston-Davies, enjoying their first Qatar Goodwood Festival triumphs, teamed up to capture the opening long-distance Victoria Racing Club Goodwood Handicap with Sands Of Fortune, who scored by six lengths after a bold front-running performance.

Willie Twiston-Davies was full of praise to his father and head lad Richard ‘Sparky’ Bevis.

“Dad’s horses are always very fit and Sparky has done all the hard work, so all of the credit goes to him,” said the jockey. “I actually wanted to drop in sixth or seventh - that was the plan - but I jumped out and he gallops all day. I managed to get a couple of breathers into him and I knew that he would stay well. I committed a long way out and knew that they would have to be fit and hardy to get to me.

“I heard and saw nothing when I was in front and was always travelling in first gear. Dad always said to go a speed that you could maintain when riding in jump races and that’s what I did. I think Dad would look for another two to two-and-a-half mile handicap.

“I am chuffed because it’s hard living up to the family name with (brother) Sam and dad. It means the world - I have been waiting for a winner like this. I’ve had an up-and-down career so this is brilliant.”

The once-raced Kachy, a 4/1 chance trained by Tom Dascombe, came through a furlong out to beat Evens-favourite King Of Rooks, owned by Qatar Racing and trained by Richard Hannon, in the Group Three Fairmont Molecomb Stakes and scored by three quarters of a length in 58.55s for the five furlongs, with two lengths back to the third, Godolphin’s Rouleau.

Cheshire-based Dascombe commented: “Nothing seemed to go to plan. We said that we should go the other side but Richard (Kingscote) brought him over towards the stands’ side rail but he has won. It was not the plan, but the race unfolded that way.

“Unfortunately, when he jumped out of the stalls, he gave the others a chance, but he has got there and it is onwards and upwards. Today was the plan. We want to see how he comes out of this race - he is in various races including some in France. He is going to improve - I know Mr Candy (Henry - the trainer) says Kyllachys improve with age and time. He has only had two starts, both at five furlongs, but I don’t think he is really a five-furlong horse.

“He is a very, very straightforward horse. We ran him at Chester first time out because we thought that he was a superstar and he is going the right way. He is crying out for six furlongs, really. If horses get a good trip at Chester, they learn an awful lot. It has obviously brought him on because he has ran once and been very professional. The owners deserve a nice horse and they have got one.

“The owners are Keith Trowbridge who has supported me from the beginning, Russell Jones who is a new owner to us and sponsors the yard, Dave Lowe and Steve Mound. They are great guys and they deserve a nice horse and they have got one. The owners come into this to have fun and a bit of success - luckily they have had both with this horse. It is great - what it is all about.

“I thought Kachy would win and told anybody who would listen that he would. I knew he was good and first knew six months ago. We have got better two-year-olds but probably not as fast.”

Trainer Marcus Tregoning loves nothing more than a winner at the festival and he was delighted when Kirsten Rausing’s home-bred Alamode got up to win the Markel Insurance Fillies’ Maiden.

“She’s a beautifully-bred filly and she’s by Sir Percy, who started out here as a two-year-old. This filly is from the family of Alborada so it was important to get a win,” said Tregoning.

“She was a bit green and I think she was hanging away from the noise. We’ll probably try for some black-type as it’s important for the family and we’ll maybe look at something like the Rockfel. She’ll get seven furlongs without a problem.

“This is a fantastic track with a lovely atmosphere, it’s the best place bar none. It’s great to have another winner here.”

Tazffin is a filly who will do better in the future, but today trainer Roger Varian was pleased to get a handicap victory from her. The daughter of Iffraaj, the 7/2 favourite, ran out a determined half-length winner of the EBF Stallions Veuve Clicquot Fillies’ Handicap as 12/1 shot Nancy From Nairobi pushed her all the way.

Once-raced as a juvenile, Tazffin won her maiden at Windsor in May, after which she finished second at York on her first try at handicap company, an effort which had trainer Roger Varian scratching his head. But in retrospect it was an excellent effort, for the winner was subsequent Irish Oaks heroine Covert Love.

“We thought she’d win that day and were disappointed with her,” said Varian, “but now we know we shouldn’t have been. I’m just pleased she’s won a decent race, and pleased with the way she did it, she stuck her head out and toughed it out well.”

Pastoral Player gave apprentice Charlie Bennett his first victory at Goodwood, at any meeting, when he swooped fast and late to take the Nat West Handicap, the closing contest on the second day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

In a blanket finish the 14/1 shot, trained by Hughie Morrison, collared the 5/1 favourite Mutawathea by half a length, with Kinglami the same distance away third. It was the eight-year-old’s sixth career victory, but his first since he won at Haydock in June 2012.

“We’ve had to be patient with him,” said Morrison. “He’s got plenty of ability but is sometimes a bit of a monkey. But he’s in good form and he’s run well at Goodwood before - he was second here first time out this season. It all fell right today, they went quickly and a bit of juice in the ground helped.”

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