Goodwood racecourse welcomes in the new season on Saturday with a pair of listed contents for fillies and mares headlining a highly-informative seven-race card.
Gertrude Bell won the inaugural running of the £35,000 Listed Betfred The Bonus King EBF Daisy Warwick Stakes (2.15pm) last season before going on to Group 2 glory in the Lancashire Oaks.
She ended her season with a fine third in the Group Two QIPCO British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes at Ascot on British Champions Day.
A high-class entry of 16 for the mile-and-a-half contest this year includes the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Vita Nova, who was runner-up to Gertrude Bell in the Lancashire Oaks and filled the same position in the Group One Yorkshire Oaks at York in August.
Khawlah could make her first start since capturing the Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan in March 2011, and her trainer Saeed bin Suroor may also be represented by fellow four-year-old Rumh, a listed winner at Newbury last season.
Ed Dunlop is hoping Tameen can make a bright start to her season. The talented four-year-old was an eight-length winner of the Goodwood Racehorse Owners’ Group Handicap over the same course and distance in August, when she was trained by the Newmarket handler’s father John.
The well-bred daughter of Shirocco subsequently finished a close fourth in a Doncaster Listed contest and was purchased by her current owner, the Honourable Earle Mack, for 80,000 guineas in February.
Dunlop said: “Tameen is a likely runner at Goodwood on Saturday. Everything has gone well with her so far this year and time will tell if she is a good filly.
“The race looks to be a logical starting point and I am happy with her, but it does look very competitive.
“The initial plan with her this season is to get some black type and then we will see what we can do after that.”
An entry of 13 for the mile £35,000 Mobile Casino British Stallion Studs EBF Conqueror Stakes (4.05pm) includes Barefoot Lady.
The Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old came home third in the Group One Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and finished a creditable fifth behind Midday in the Group 1 Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in July.
Chachamaidee may also return to Goodwood for Sir Henry Cecil, having captured the Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last year, while the John Gosden-trained Fallen For You was beaten a neck by subsequent Group 1 heroine Lyric Of Light in the Group Two May Hill Stakes at Doncaster in August.
Richard Hannon could be represented by Whimsical and Esentepe, who gamely took the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket on April 18.
Hannon, who was leading trainer at Goodwood for a ninth time in 2011, is responsible for six of the 19 entries for the day’s opening race, the £5,500 Betfred Goals Galore EBF Maiden Stakes (1.40pm), including Nottingham novice stakes runner-up Black Monk and the Queen’s newcomer Augustinian.
A total of 18 horses have been entered in the £25,000 Betfred Mobile Sports Handicap (3.30pm) over a mile and three-quarters, including the hat-trick seeking Thimaar, representing the in-form stable of John Gosden, and the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Late Telegraph, who was successful on his debut in a Goodwood maiden in August.
The Brian Meehan-trained Catfish won the Turf Club Handicap at Glorious Goodwood last season and the four-year-old filly features among 15 contenders for the five-furlong £15,000 Betfred The Bonus King Bingo Handicap (2.50pm), alongside Doncaster handicap scorer Steps, from the stable of Roger Varian.
The action concludes with the seven-furlong £5,000 Betfred.com Median Auction Maiden Stakes (4.40pm, 23 entries) and the £5,000 Collect Totepool Bets At Betfred Shops Handicap (5.15pm, 24 entries) over just shy of a mile and a quarter.
The going at Goodwood is currently soft.
Clerk of the Course Seamus Buckley said: “We had approximately 120 millimetres of rain during April, compared to six millimetres for the whole of April in 2011.
“The course has stood up to the rain very well. It drains very quickly straight down through the chalk and there is a great covering of grass.
“We are all looking forward to getting the new season under way and we are very pleased with the entries for Saturday’s racing.”
In the Chichester Observer on Thursday ... read Goodwood MD Adam Waterworth’s first Diary from the Downs of 2012 - and get a sneaky look inside the new 1812 Bar in the Richmond Enclosure
Get our tips for Saturday’s meeting on this website on the morning of racing - and a report later in the day