The Glorious Goodwood Festival provided five days of superb top class racing atop the South Downs last week and this traditional summer sporting and social occasion was a turning point in the flat season for the much maligned classic generation.
Three-year-old milers Toronado and Dawn Approach both stepped out of their age group for the first time and fought out another exciting duel in the Group One Sussex Stakes, with the former coming out on top for the first time in a rivalry which is increasingly becoming the major story of this flat campaign.
I would suggest the exceptional quality of Richard Hughes around Goodwood, against a jockey with limited experience of the idiosyncratic Sussex track, made the difference on the day.
In delivering Toronado with his run as late as was realistically possible he gave the tenacious Dawn Approach no opportunity to respond – and his positioning of his mount away from the rail was another crucial factor in their success.
The pair’s superiority over the four-year-old Group One winner, Declaration of War, who followed them home at a respectful distance, went some way to restoring the reputation of their generation, at least within the miling division.
With the likes of last year’s mile stars Frankel and Excelebration retired and Farhh unlikely to return to the track, it is now very difficult to get a wholly reliable measure of the abilities of Toronado and Dawn Approach, although a clash with the French-trained Moonlight Cloud at some point would probably be the best available gauge.
What can be said with certainty is their respective connections have the belief in their charges and the necessary bravery to back their confidence that will ensure the story of their rivalry – and indeed of this season – is far from finished yet, with at least two further captivating chapters planned to be written.
Sheena West has her Falmer stable in good form and has bagged a couple of wins in the last week.
Always good with the mares in her care, West secured a second win in four starts from Hi Note when the five-year-old won at Bath under the promising apprentice Harry Poulton.
Marc Goldstein was on board Screaming Brave for West and gave the seller a good ride to win at Stratford. I am always surprised Goldstein does not get more opportunities with outside yards.
The final day of Brighton’s feature three-day meeting of the season takes place today with the Brighton Bullet the main event on the card.
Lionheart looks to have been laid out for the race by his shrewd trainer Luca Cumani.
So impressive when winning in a canter at Yarmouth last week, the three-year-old has received a good draw and is an unexposed sprinter coming to himself.
Despite a six pound penalty, he is four pounds well in on his new rating and with the trainer’s exceptional record at the track, he looks a very good proposition for a valuable race for the grade.