Glorious Goodwood set for a fabulous Friday

Muthmir takes the 2015 Qatar King George Stakes / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Muthmir takes the 2015 Qatar King George Stakes / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Friday’s big two contests at the Qatar Goodwood Festival are shaping up to be top-class races.

The Group 2 King George Stakes (3.45pm) is one of the highlights of the fourth day of the festival.

The market for this year’s race is headed by Marsha for Sir Mark Prescott and Luke Morris. The three-year-old filly has won her last two starts in Listed company.

Run over five furlongs and open to horses three years and older, a myriad of top-class sprinters have been successful in this race.

They include former Nunthorpe winner Kingsgate Native (2009), ex-Stewards’ Cup winner Bordelescott (2010) and Australian sprinter Ortensia (2012).

Last year’s renewal was won by William Haggas’ Muthmir who runs again this year. A field of 17 is due to line up for the £312,100 contest.

The market for this year’s race is headed by Marsha for Sir Mark Prescott and Luke Morris. The three-year-old filly has won her last two starts in Listed company, with a two and a half-length victory at Ayr in June followed by a neck success at York this month.

The Michael Dods-trained Easton Angel has won two of her three starts this year. The three-year-old won Listed contests at York and Sandown in May and June respectively, before finishing a neck second to Marsha in the City Walls Stakes earlier this month at York.

Aidan O’Brien, successful in this contest with Dietrich in 2001, saddles Washington DC who ran creditably in Group One company on his last two starts. The son of Zoffany was a one and a half-length third in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot before finishing a three and three-quarter length fifth in the July Cup at Newmarket.

Pearl Secret runs in the colours of Qatar Racing Limited. David Barron’s seven year-old was a two and three-quarter length fourth in last year’s Prix De L’Abbaye at Longchamp but was a well-beaten 14th in the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot in June.

Last year’s winner Muthmir aims to become the sixth horse to win back-to-back King George Stakes with Lochsong in 1993 and 1994 the last horse to achieve the feat. William Haggas’ six-year-old finished a length behind Marsha at York in July. Ajaya, a well-beaten sixth in a Group Two at Haydock in May, completes the Haggas duo.

The David Griffiths-trained Take Cover attempts to become the first horse in the race’s history to regain his King George crown. The nine-year-old won the King George Stakes in 2014 and was second last year. The gelding was a six and a half-length 11th in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on his last start.

Cotai Glory represents Charlie Hills and George Baker. The four-year-old was 13th in the July Cup at Newmarket last time, having previously finished a neck second in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Kachy, a length second in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, represents Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote. The son of Kyllachy won the five-furlong Molecomb Stakes at last year’s Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The 2015 Prix De L’Abbaye and King’s Stand Stakes winner Goldream, trained by Robert Cowell, will be having his first start in Britain this year following two runs in Meydan in March. Cowell also runs Spirit Quartz, who finished a seven-length fifth at Sandown earlier this month.

David O’Meara saddles Move In Time, a three-quarter length second at Hamilton in June with Paul Midgley’s Line Of Reason a further three-quarters of a length back in third.

French raider Finsbury Square, trained by Fabrice Chappet, Kevin Ryan’s Goken, Mick Channon’s

Divine and Charlie Appleby’s Jungle Cat, fourth in King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, complete the field.

A maximum field of 22 has been declared for Friday’s £150,000 Betfred Mile (3.10pm) at the Qatar Goodwood Festival, for which the sponsors make Franklin D the red-hot 3/1 favourite. The mile event is one of the richest handicaps in Europe and was first run in 1987 when 8/1 shot Waajib continued his progress to land the then Schweppes Golden Mile before going on to win the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot the following year.

It took until 2004 for a favourite to oblige, when Ancient World landed some hefty bets to score for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor at odds of 9/2. Franklin D has been all the rage for this year’s race since he posted a facile six-length victory at Newmarket’s July Course and the Michael Bell-trained colt has the services of Ryan Moore in the saddle on Friday afternoon.

Sir Mark Prescott’s Celestial Path and the five-year-old Donncha are likely to give the market leader most to think about, according to the sponsors, who make the pair the 10/1 joint-second favourites. The former has yet to post a victory this season but showed he was coming back to form when a fine second behind Home Cummins at York last time out, while the Robert Eddery-trained Donncha was also runner-up on his last start when a length and a half behind Secret Art at Sandown. Prescott is no stranger to success in this race, having trained Spectait to win the 2006 running.

Newmarket trainer Marco Botti saddles an interesting contender in Azraaf (12/1), who finished a fine fourth in the Royal Hunt Cup on his penultimate start, while Malton has a strong hand in the shape of One Word More (12/1), trained by Tim Easterby (who trained the 1998 winner For Your Eyes Only), and the Richard Fahey-trained Gabrial’s Kaka (20/1). Fahey also saddles Third Time Lucky (16/1), who is partnered by his former stable jockey Paul Hanagan, now the retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.

Last year’s winner Belgian Bill (14/1) is back to try and become the first horse to win back-to-back runnings of this race and the George Baker-trained gelding is reunited with Pat Cosgrave, who was successful on board the eight-year-old last year. If he is victorious, he will become the oldest horse to win the Betfred Mile, having recorded that particular record 12 months ago.

Top-weight (9st 10lb) is carried by the Andrew Balding-trained Here Comes When (25/1), who returns to the Qatar Goodwood Festival for the second successive year, having finished fourth in the 2015 Qatar Sussex Stakes behind Solow. Middleham trainer Karl Burke, fresh from his Group One success in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot with Quiet Reflection, saddles You’re Fired (16/1), with promising apprentice Jordan Vaughan claiming a valuable five pounds.

Of the bigger priced horses, Godolphin’s Outlaw Country, trained by Charlie Appleby, is the most interesting, having been off the track since October, 2014. The thrice-raced colt was last seen finishing second behind this year’s Lincoln Handicap winner Secret Brief at Newmarket in the Tattersalls Millions 2YO Trophy. He could prove to be a spot of each-way value at 25/1 with Betfred if he picks up where he left off.

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