Sir Dancealot lights up the Lennox at Glorious Goodwood - Tuesday round-up
It was a day to savour at Goodwood as Glorious 2018 got off to a flyer.
Away from the Qatar Goodwood Cup - report here - there was plenty of top-class racing action to thrill the sun-baked crowd.
The David Elsworth-trained Sir Dancealot, the 5/1 joint-favourite, got up in the shadows of the post to land the G2 Qatar Lennox Stakes. The four-year-old son of Sir Prancealot endured a troubled passage throughout the home straight in the seven-furlong contest under Gerald Mosse, but once finding room a furlong from home, the bay gelding showed a tremendous turn of foot to score by a short-head from David O'Meara's Suedois (7/1) in second.
The David Simcock-trained Breton Rock (20/1), the 2017 winner, was head behind in third.
Newmarket trainer Elsworth said: "He got into more trouble than I get into down the pub on a Saturday night after I have had a few. Sir Dancealot would have been a very unlucky loser. I describe Sir Dancealot to the owners as like a tennis ball. He is bouncing up, going up, and I just wondered if he had reached the point of equilibrium - whether he had stopped or was even coming down. His level of form has been very good, which gave him a very good chance today.
"Four was a difficult draw for a horse who needs to be taken back a little bit and relaxed - he wants to do his running in the second half of the race. Gerald had a problem getting organised and everyone is trying to win. Whether the gaps materialise - a lot of good luck and good fortune is involved.
"We got lucky in the end but I feel he would have been an unlucky loser. We better be gracious in victory and say that it was a scramble."
If the promoters of racing need an example of successful racehorse syndication they found one at Goodwood's opening day.
Dark Vision (100/30f), who won the Â£200,000 G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes for two-year-olds, scored impressively under Silvestre De Sousa, beating Dunkerron (9/1) and Confiding (8/1) by one and three-quarters of a length and one and a quarter lengths. There is no doubt the winner and two of his stable companions at Mark Johnston's Middleham yard in Yorkshire are fulfilling the dreams of their 19-strong syndicate.
Known as Kingsley Park 10, the members invested Â£7,000 each to become the owners of three juvenile colts, their payment also including training fees for the year. All three colts have won this season, today's victory being the peak to date.
Dark Vision cost 15,000gns, a small sum in racehorse terms, but his very large size would have counted against him when he was offered for sale in October last year, while Victory Command, who won a Listed race at Ascot on Saturday for the same owners, cost just 6,000gns. Ironically both horses were entered in nurseries, handicaps for two-year-olds, at this meeting, yet each has proven to be some way above that class.
Newmarket trainer William Haggas saddled the first and third in the opening race.
Haggas's Alfaaris (13/2), the mount of Jim Crowley, won the Â£75,000 Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap by half a length from Plutonian (20/1), who was three-quarters of a length ahead of Original Choice (9/1) - the last-named will be back in action at the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Friday, said his trainer.
Asked if cheekpieces had been the making of Alfaaris, Haggas replied: "No, he's just grown up. He's been a very different horse this year - last year he had a very high testicle which was bothering him and it required a big operation to get it out.
"He's matured a lot since then, but things haven't always gone his way. We had to delay his debut and then he was just beaten at Sandown last time out, but today's it has all come right."
Watan, owned and bred by Al Shaqab Racing, captured the six-furlong Nginious! Swiss Gin EBF Maiden Stakes on his debut.
Trained by Richard Hannon, the 6/1 shot made stylish headway under Ryan Moore to swoop to the lead and found plenty under pressure to score by two lengths from stable companion Dirty Rascal (11/4) in second.
Watan is a son of Toronado, who was also trained by Richard Hannon and won the 2013 Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Hannon said: "This is a great victory as he is by Toronado who was owned by Al Shaqab and Watan was bred at Sheikh Joaan's Haras De Bouquetot stud so it's a very special winner to have.
"I thought Watan would run well, but I didn't really think he would win like that.
"He has always shown a fair bit, but he had sore shins so we had to wait with him. As time went on, I thought we would target him for Goodwood and it worked well.
A memorable week for sport in Wales - headed by Geraint Thomas's stunning Tour De France win - now includes a winner for the country at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Under The Covers (16/1), bred in Carmarthenshire by David Hodge's Llety Farms, and trained near Chepstow by Ron Harris, won the Chelsea Barracks Handicap under P J McDonald, beating El Astronaute (11/2) by three lengths, with Boom The Groom (14/1) back in third of the 13 runners.
Hodge, who bred this year's Royal Ascot winner Soldier's Call, said: "We bred and still own this mare, but lease her to Ron's racing club. The plan is to try and win some black type with her and then bring her back to the stud. She is the best her mother produced, and her mother won the Rous Stakes, while a win at a meeting like this helps her profile. This is our 25th winner of the year and it's been fantastic."
Harris said: "I felt she was in here with a nice weight and I knew she had improved all year, but we've been waiting for nice ground [after a very dry period with fast going]. That's why there's been such a gap since she won at the start of the season."
Haggas completed a 40.25/1 double on day one of the Qatar Goodwood Festival after Move Swiftly, the 9/2 favourite, captured the Matchbook Time To Move Over Fillies' Handicap.
The three-year-old daughter of Farhh ran on strongly to take the lead in the closing stages to score by a length and a quarter.
Haggas also saddled 13/2 favourite Alfarris to win today's opening Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap.
Maureen Haggas, assistant trainer to her husband, said: "Moved Swiftly had a pretty troubled passage, but once she got going, she moved fairly swiftly and I thought she did very well.
"She is improving and is a funny, gassy filly. She is definitely heading in the right direction and she has stepped up again on her form. James [Doyle] liked her and he was lucky that he got out and that she quickened up like she did."
james Doyle added: "It was a very messy race. From our draw, I didn't have much of an option to drop in. Luckily a few of the weakening horses meant it was possible to get out."