Haggas, Gosden and Varian upbeat on Glorious Goodwood prospects

William Haggas, John Gosden and Roger Varian were among several Newmarket trainers to issue updates today on their leading hopes ahead of next week’s Qatar Goodwood Festival.

Stradivarius on the Newmarket gallops this morning | Picture: Doug Peters/PA Wire
Stradivarius on the Newmarket gallops this morning | Picture: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Haggas’ team is spearheaded by unbeaten superstar Baaeed, the world’s top-rated turf horse, who is on course for a match-up with leading three-year-old Coroebus in the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes on Wednesday, July 27.

Successful in the G3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at last year’s meeting, Baaeed has since registered four consecutive victories at G1 level, most recently dominating in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Speaking at a media event organised by Goodwood Racecourse, Haggas said: “We are all set to go with Baaeed, hopefully. He worked this morning and, provided everything is OK over the next couple of days, we are away and will see what evolves.

John Gosden is keenly anticipating Goodwood week | Picture: Doug Peters/PA Wire

“Coroebus is obviously a high-class horse. Two of ours finished third and fourth [My Prospero and Maljoom] behind him in the St James’s Palace Stakes, not beaten far. I was not that impressed with him – and I have to be careful because he is a very smart horse – but I don’t think he was at his best that day. I think Maljoom, and I don’t think this is just trainer talk, would have won in another couple of strides. At the moment, there is a fair bit of distance between Baaeed and Maljoom.

“I don’t think Baaeed has much to prove but his pedigree smacks of further. He relaxes so well, he has a great mind, and I would love to see him over further at York in Juddmonte International. I remember so vividly when Frankel won that race, it was like a piece of work for him. Anyone who was there, it made your hairs stand up because he was imperious. I hope that Baaeed would be able to travel as strongly and then be able to use his turn of foot. I am very keen to have a go.

“We are just starting to say amongst ourselves in the yard that we need to prepare for life after him – which I know sounds a bit pathetic – because he won’t be around for us to enjoy next year. Finding another one is the target.”

Baaeed will only be Haggas’ second runner in the mile highlight after Argentinian-bred Eventuail finished eighth in 1998.

The trainer added: “I can’t remember having many runners in the Sussex but it is a race I would love to win. I am always watching it on television thinking why haven’t I got a horse good enough?”

Of his other likely runners, Haggas said: “The World Pool Lennox Stakes looks the obvious race for Sacred, as she likes seven furlongs and fast ground. We are going to leave her in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at the owner’s request, just in case the race cuts up, but seven is her best trip.

“We had a similar problem with One Master, who was a seven-furlong specialist. The only Group 1 race in Europe for four-year-olds over seven is the Prix de la Foret in October, when the ground is soft. One Master loved the soft whereas Sacred doesn’t, so it is difficult to know where to go.

“We will run only one in the Qatar Nassau Stakes and it will either be Lilac Road, who wants fast ground, or My Astra, who can’t have it soft enough. I suspect it will be Lilac Road, because we have had this in mind since she won the Middleton. It is her part-owner Julia Aisbitt’s birthday on Nassau day, so this looks a good target.

“Sea La Rosa will run in the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes. She won over a mile and five furlongs at Lingfield last year, so she will stay the trip well. She is very tough and very hardy, but I can’t see anything beating Free Wind if she puts up a performance similar to Haydock.

“Montassib will go for the Coral Golden Mile. We own him, which costs money, and he is perfect for all these sort of races. I suspect he will end up in a race like the Balmoral at the end of the year.”

Hugely popular stayer Stradivarius is set to bring the curtain down on his remarkable career in the feature G1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup on Tuesday, July 26. Stradivarius created history in 2020 by becoming the first four-time winner of the two-mile showpiece but the eight-year-old was forced to miss last year’s race due to testing ground.

His co-trainer John Gosden said: “Stradivarius is happy. He has maintained his enthusiasm for the game throughout and enjoys his training. We couldn’t really be more pleased with him for a chap at this stage of his career, so we are very much looking forward to it.

“He was at Goodwood in the stables last year, when Thady and I walked the track. The water was lying on the top of the track, and we knew that wasn’t for him. It is a pity he couldn’t have run because every time he has run at Goodwood, he’s won a Goodwood Cup.

“You are very lucky to have a horse or a racemare like that ever come to you, and then to enjoy their longevity and their amazing consistency at that top level. That is testament to the horse, the breeder, and to have that constitution is pretty remarkable. That is probably what has been so fulfilling and the fact he is rather like Enable was. Expressive, rather outgoing, joyous.

“His first Goodwood Cup and his first Gold Cup would be the highlights – winning the Goodwood Cup as a three-year-old and then the Gold Cup as a four-year-old. He has built on that down the years. There aren’t many Flat horses who stay around like him.

"I always remember when Rachel and I came back from America, we made a point of getting in the car and taking however long it took to get there to see Desert Orchid run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. We had a cup of tea and came back. It was something like six hours on the road for the sake of being there for half an hour, but it was very much worth it. When you have a horse like that, they are unique, and they need to be celebrated.

“It is pretty set who the key horses are in the Goodwood Cup. We’re happy at two miles or two and a half miles. Stradivarius would run a big race over a mile and a half. So, to that extent I have been pleased with him all along and we’re looking forward to it. He is quick on his feet and agile. That always helps around Goodwood. It is a downward turning track and he probably enjoys the twists and turns of it. He probably finds it quite entertaining, like a fairground ride.”

Team Gosden is set to run two leading fillies at the meeting, with G1 Prix de Diane winner Nashwa in the G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes on Thursday, July 28, and the prolific Free Wind in the G2 Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes on Saturday, July 30.

Thady Gosden said: “Nashwa has been very well since France. She ran in the Oaks and then backed up a few days later in France, which is a pretty serious testament to her. She had a pretty hard race at Epsom and ran an exceptional race. She didn’t quite stay but still managed to come third. She has been a bit quiet since France as you would expect. She travelled all the way over to Chantilly and ran a huge race there, but she is coming back to herself now and seems in good shape for next week.

“She is obviously a very well-bred filly and one we have always liked. I think they even liked her at Blue Diamond on the farm when she was younger. She came to us and always had a bit about her. She took a bit of time to mature last year and has just improved with every run this year.

“Hollie [Doyle] has given her a few brilliant rides, especially in France. Getting to the front there, it’s not an easy track to ride and you can always end up finding plenty of trouble. She’s versatile enough in that regard and hopefully that will suit her at Goodwood. We all know Hollie is a brilliant jockey and tactically very astute.

“It is a huge achievement for an owner-breeder to have a horse of this calibre. It is a very competitive game and a real testament to Imad Al Sagar, Blue Diamond and all of the team for breeding a filly like her.

“Free Wind didn’t have the smoothest trip round at Haydock last time out, but she came out of that race in great form. We are looking at the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes for her, which is a race that has gone from strength to strength over the years. She has won at Goodwood and is pretty versatile with regards to trip and running style. You can drop her in wherever you like. She doesn’t want extremes, but she handles most ground.”

Roger Varian is excited by the chances of progressive sprinter Mitbaahy in the G2 King George Qatar Stakes on Friday, July 29.

Following stylish wins in a conditions race at Hamilton and the Listed Scurry Stakes at Sandown Park, the three-year-old was unlucky not to complete the three-timer when going down by a neck in the G3 Coral Charge back at Sandown Park on July 2.

Varian said: “Mitbaahy looked very unlucky in the Coral Charge. He was drawn in stall one and I hated it as soon as I saw it. He likes to come from off the pace and it is so hard to get room to run at Sandown when you are on the fence. He was locked away and, take nothing away from the winner, but we just couldn’t get there in time.

“It showed us that Mitbaahy is still improving. I think he is a really smart five-furlong horse in the making. The harder they go, the stronger he will come home. I would be really excited about him heading into this race. I don’t think I would swap him for anything else.”

Regarding his other entries, Varian said: “We were really pleased with Laneqash’s Listed win at Chester. I think he had been on the wrong side of a photo finish in three Stakes races before then. That was his first win since his debut as a two-year-old, even though he has run some very good races subsequently.

“He has come out of Chester in very good form and the World Pool Lennox is very much the plan. He is a top-of-the-ground horse and could be well-suited to Goodwood, given that it can advantage horses like him who like to arrive on the scene late. It is usually a very strong contest and will be a hard race to win, but he ticks a lot of boxes.

“Believe In Love could well run in the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes. She is at her best over a mile and six furlongs. She is a three-time Group 3 winner and was just touched off in the Group 1 on Arc weekend last season, so she brings some good form to the table. She ran very well in the Lancashire Oaks last time out, when she was caught out off a very steady gallop. I think she is better with some ease of the ground but she is versatile. She should have a solid chance.

“Saint Lawrence would be a possibility for the Coral Stewards’ Cup, although he did disappoint us in the Hackwood Stakes at the weekend. He ran a good race in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, when he came home well, and he was third in the Palace House Stakes at the start of the year. He seems to enjoy the early tempo of those five-furlong races. He gets a bit lost before coming home well and I think the hustle and bustle of a Stewards’ Cup could suit.”

Derby runner-up Hoo Ya Mal has joined George Boughey ahead of a tilt at the G3 John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes. Formerly with Andrew Balding, Hoo Ya Mal was originally bound for Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott in Australia after selling for £1.2 million at the Goffs London Sale before Royal Ascot.

Boughey explained: “Hoo Ya Mal has settled in well. Johnny McKeever, who bought the horse for Gai, was looking for someone to train him because he missed the first shipment to Australia.

“I thought personally going into the Derby that he would struggle to stay, but he seemed to stay very well. He was given a good hold-up ride that day and I think that is how we will look to ride him in the Gordon Stakes. William Buick rode him yesterday morning and was delighted. Gai has decided to take the hood off him and he seems very relaxed without it.”

Of his other leading hopes, Boughey said: “Koy Koy is in at Ascot this weekend, but I am favouring the Coral Golden Mile. I have only had him a short period of time and he was able to win at Newmarket over the weekend, despite running loose for a mile beforehand. He clearly has a level of ability.

“Inver Park has been a well-plotted horse by Sam Haggas, who bought him in December last year. He said this horse is going to win the Buckingham Palace and I looked at him like he had two heads – and then he won the Buckingham Palace! Sam said his next race is the Coral Stewards’ Cup, so I’m doing as I’m told. In fairness, I always thought he was a six-furlong horse and he surprised me over seven at Royal Ascot.

“California Gem will go for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Nursery Handicap. She has won two novices, including at Beverley, which should stand her in good stead at Goodwood. I hope she might be up to running in some Black Type races at some point.”

George Scott is looking forward to saddling leading juvenile Rocket Rodney in the G3 Markel Molecomb Stakes on Wednesday, July 27. After an impressive novice race success at Goodwood, the Dandy Man colt was beaten a neck by Little Big Bear at Royal Ascot, before comfortably going one better in the Listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown Park on July 1.

Scott said: “We thought Rocket Rodney would show up well at Royal Ascot because he posted some good numbers before then, although I was surprised to see him so competitive. Little Big Bear was a pretty comfortable winner and has since taken a big step forward but so has our horse. He did it well at Sandown and, from a trainer’s point of view, the Molecomb Stakes cannot come soon enough.

“It will be a big help that he has already been to Goodwood, and he handled it great that day. I suppose he will go into the race top rated and I am just praying that we don’t pick up a knock in the meantime.

“We do a lot of data work with things like heart-rate monitors and cadence. It is very helpful to see how he is progressing between runs because you can compare the data from his work. His data was very good this morning and it is clear that he has taken another little step forwards. I am as confident as I can be that he is still improving.

“It is really nice to be sat here talking about a good horse again. It has been a while between drinks for us and James Garfield is a bit of a distant memory now. He was a very good two-year-old, but this horse looks faster than him.

“We are also looking forward to Coco Jack in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Nursery and, provided Mr Gosden doesn’t have a runner, Benoit De La Sayette will ride him. He has not done much wrong this season and won easily under a double penalty at Brighton. He is a beautiful horse and Middleham Park Racing has just bought half of him. He should progress because he is by Wings Of Eagles.”

Alice Haynes is expecting to have several runners across the meeting, including Mr Professor in the Coral Kincsem Handicap on Thursday, July 28.

Mr Professor took the notable scalp of Irish Derby victor Westover in a Listed race at Pontefract in the autumn and acquitted himself well in Dubai at the start of this year, including when second in the Listed Jumierah Classic.

Haynes said: “Mr Professor had a busy time in Dubai and did not run so well in France or at Chelmsford afterwards. He has had a break since and I can’t wait to see him over 10 furlongs. The track will suit as we have worked out that he doesn’t like straight tracks.

“Remarkable Force is pencilled in for the Coral Nursery Handicap. His form from earlier in the season with Chateau and Eddie’s Boy is there for all to see. Six furlongs is a massive question mark. I think he is a pure five-furlong horse but all the jockeys say he wants further.

“We will also run Mother India in a fillies’ maiden. She ran well at Doncaster last week on debut. They went no gallop and she got caught out before staying on well to be third. I would expect her to come on a lot from that.

“Playupskyblues will run in the seven-furlong maiden on Saturday. He is by Kodiac and closely related to Sovereign Debt. I bought him at the sales last year and he is ready to run. I think seven furlongs around a bend should be a good starting point.”

The Qatar Sussex Stakes, Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup and Qatar Nassau Stakes are part of the British Champions Series.