Glorious Goodwood: Griffiths targets King George Stakes and Stewards’ Cup

Muthmir beats Take Cover in last year's Qatar King George / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Muthmir beats Take Cover in last year's Qatar King George / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Evergreen sprinter Take Cover is set to make a fourth appearance at the Qatar Goodwood Festival when he bids for a second victory in the £300,000 Group 2 Qatar King George Stakes on July 29.

The nine-year-old, trained in South Yorkshire by David Griffiths, has a marvellous record at Goodwood. He captured the five-furlong contest in 2014 and went down by a head to Muthmir (William Haggas) in last year’s renewal. He was also beaten a nose in the consolation race for the Stewards’ Cup, the six-furlong Qatar Stewards’ Sprint Handicap, in 2013.

Take Cover could only finish 11th on his latest start in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14, but made all for a decisive win over Cotai Glory (Charlie Hills) in the Listed Achilles Stakes at Haydock Park in May.

Griffiths, based near Bawtry, revealed: “The plan is to run Take Cover in the Qatar King George Stakes and hopefully he can go one place better than last year.

“The ground went against him at Ascot - he doesn’t like soft ground - and he wasn’t drawn brilliantly in stall one. I thought that the field would come over to us, being the pace in the race, but unfortunately they stayed in the middle so we had to race on our own.

“We beat Cotai Glory, who was second in the King’s Stand, convincingly at Haydock. It was only a Listed race, but there were still some smart horses in the race and he did it really nicely.

The plan is to run Take Cover in the Qatar King George Stakes and hopefully he can go one place better than last year.

David Griffiths

“On the book, he has beaten Muthmir at Lingfield earlier this year and Marsha, who won the City Wall Stakes at York on Saturday, at Dundalk last year.

“He is really well at the moment and, on quick ground at a track that he absolutely loves, we would be hopeful of a good run.”

A total of six horses have won the Qatar King George Stakes twice, with the most recent being Lochsong, who took back-to-back renewals in 1993 and 1994.

Duke Of Firenze (8st 13lb) is due to represent Griffiths in the most valuable six-furlong British heritage handicap of the year, the £250,000 Qatar Stewards’ Cup, on Saturday, July 30.

The seven-year-old also disappointed at Ascot on his most recent appearance in a five-furlong heritage handicap on July 9, but was third in two similar contests over the minimum trip earlier in June - the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh and the Dash at Epsom Downs, a race he won for former connections in 2013.

Duke Of Firenze captured a five-furlong handicap at York in May, when he beat subsequent Group Three winner and leading Qatar Stewards’ Cup contender Brando (9st 10lb, Kevin Ryan) by three quarters of a length.

Griffiths added: “Duke Of Firenze goes for the Qatar Stewards’ Cup. He held his form really well after winning at York, in the two races at Musselburgh and Epsom.

“We then ran him in a Group Three at Sandown, when the ground was bottomless, and then I probably shouldn’t have run at Ascot last time out. He probably needed a bit of a break, so we will freshen him up this week and then go to Goodwood.

“I think he will get six furlongs at a quick course like Goodwood, especially if it’s fast ground. Hopefully, we can get him back to a similar level of form as he showed at York earlier this season.”

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