HUGHIE MORRISON won Goodwood’s Height of Fashion Stakes for the second time in three years - but there’ll be no stab at Epsom Oaks glory to follow this time.
The East Ilsley trainer was thrilled to see 7/1 chance Marsh Daisy take the £40,000 feature race on the first day of the three-day May Festival on the Downs.
It mirrored the success Morrison had with Coquet - ridden by Rab Havlin - in the same race in 2012.
Coquet made the familiar step from the Height of Fashion contest to the Oaks on that occasion and ran a good race, finishing sixth. But the trainer ruled out the same move for Marsh Daisy.
“She’s not in the Oaks - she’s still quite green. She only came into training in September,” Morrison said.
“She’s obviously decent but we’ll be guided by the ground. She doesn’t take a lot of training. There’s not a lot in the calendar - the Lancashire Oaks (at Haydock in July) ould be a step up again. She’ll be exciting in the autumn.”
Here, Marsh Daisy was a fairly comfortable winner in the Bibendum-sponsored race, finishing two lengths ahead of John Gosden’s Eastern Belle (8/1) and William Buick.
Secret Pursuit and Hayley Turner set a blistering early pace but couldn’t hold the pack at bay as the race unfolded.
It was an absorbing centrepiece to an afternoon’s racing which added up to a successful start to the May Festival, which is in its third year back as a three-day festival.
The festival is worth £390,000 in prize money this year and that - couple with the meeting being a fortnight ahead of the Oaks and Derby at Epsom - has seen a high quality and quantity of entries across the three days.
The weather wasn’t exactly spring-like to begin with, with heavy showers hitting the racecourse a couple of hours and even a couple of rounds of thunder and lightning before the first race but thankfully it cleared before the start of the action.
The card kicked off with an impressive performance from the Charlie Appleby-trained Portamento, ridden by William Buick, in the Irish Stallions Farms EBF Maiden Stakes.
Appleby watched the four-length triumph over the 5/4 favourite Estidhkaar and said he would now consider Royal Ascot options for the two-year-old.
There was a surprise in the Wright Joinery Company Stakes when Franny Norton timed a late run on David Evans’ 25/1 shot Solo Hunter to perfection to push 4/1 second-favourtie Gothic and Ryan Moore into second place.
There was a West Sussex success story in the Weatherbys Sports Publishing Stakes as Story Writer won for Angmering trainer William Knight and his local owners the Pheasant Rew Partnership.
The five-year-old looked set to miss out in the final stages to Kashgar but took the contest by a neck.
Knight said he’s like to bring Story Writer back to Glorious Goodwood later in the season. “I love coming to Goodwood, the owners love coming to Goodwood, and that would be a nice target,” Knight said.
By now the sun was out and the storms and showers of earlier in the day were a distant memory.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Russian Realm took the winnersevents.com Stakes in some style, the 5/4 favourite guided home by two-and-a-half lengths ahead of course regular George Guru, ridden by Robert Havlin.
The Breeders Backing Racing EBF Maiden Stakes was won by Amanda Perrett’s Black Shadow under Tom Queally, while the last - the TJ Group Apprentice Stakes was claimed by Jack Duern on the Michael Scudamore-trained 6/1 contender Eastern Dragon.
Day two of the May Festival has the Cocked Hat Stakes - regarded as a Derby trial - as its highlight. The festival continues until Saturday.