WEST SUSSEX trainer William Knight will wait as long as possible before deciding which engagement Aussie Reigns will take up on the third and final day of Goodwood’s May Festival on Saturday.
The four-year-old will return to turf in either the opening £40,000 Listed 32Red Casino Stakes (1.50pm, 17 entries) over just short of ten furlongs or the £40,000 Listed 32Red Stakes (2.20pm, 13 entries) over two furlongs further.
The son of Aussie Rules annexed a seven-furlong nursery at Glorious Goodwood in the 2012 and was just touched off in the ten-furlong Gordon’s Handicap at the same meeting last year.
He has improved by 18lb in the ratings since then, capturing a 12-furlong Listed contest at Kempton Park in December before going close in a valuable 10-furlong handicap on turf at Meydan, Dubai, in January.
After returning from Dubai, he finished strongly to take third in the 10-furlong Group Three Winter Derby at Lingfield Park in March and was last seen out when sixth over the same course and distance in the Coral Easter Classic on Good Friday, April 18, both on Polytrack.
Knight, who trains in Angmering, said: “Aussie Reigns will run on Saturday, but in which race I’m not sure. I just want to see what the competition looks like and then we will make a decision.
“He is in really good form. He has done two nice pieces of work and I could not be happier with him.
“We gelded him at the end of his two-year-old year and he steadily improved last season. Maybe stepping him up from a mile has helped, but probably the gelding more so.
“He has always shown ability and won a half-decent nursery at Glorious Goodwood, but it was just getting him to channel it in the right way.
“I’m a bit mindful he hasn’t had a proper break since last May, but we freshened him up before he went out to Dubai. We have paddocks and things here, so he goes out a bit and seems very happy in himself.”
Entries for the 32Red Casino Stakes include Godolphin’s dual Group Three scorer French Navy (Charlie Appleby) and last year’s 2000 Guineas runner-up Glory Awaits (Kevin Ryan), while Gatewood (John Gosden) and Pether’s Moon (Richard Hannon), who finished first and second in the Listed Buckhounds Stakes at Ascot on May 10, head 13 entries for the 32Red Stakes.
The May Festival kicks off on Thursday, May 22, when the highlight is the £40,000 Listed Bibendum Height Of Fashion Stakes (4.25pm). An excellent field of eight fillies is set to go to post, headed by Group Three UAE Oaks runner-up Feedyah (Charlie Appleby) and Cheshire Oaks second Secret Pursuit (Marcus Tregoning). Luca Cumani will saddle Pretty Polly Stakes second Jordan Princess, while last year’s winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute relies on Psychometry.
Friday’s feature is the £40,000 Listed Casco EBF Stallions Cocked Hat Stakes (4.00pm) over a mile and three furlongs for three-year-old colts. The 11 entries include Tattersalls Millions Trophy runner-up Observational (Roger Charlton), the consistent Postponed (Luca Cumani) and the John Gosden-trained pair of Cloudscape and Marzocco.
This is the third year since the May Festival reverted to the traditional three days. The first race on Thursday, May 22 is at 2.10pm, while on Friday, May 23 the action gets underway at 2.20pm and Saturday, May 24 sees the first race off at 1.50pm.
Accompanied children under 18 years of age are admitted free to all enclosures - to book tickets go to www.goodwood.co.uk or call 01243 216610.
Goodwood Latest Going Information
Going: Good, good to firm in places on the round course
Straight course - stands’ side
Round course - inside, except 1m 3f and 1m 4f races which will be outside.
Rails: The first two furlongs of the mile course dolled out by five yards.
Top bend: On Thursday and Friday, it will be dolled out by three yards.
Lower bend: Dolled out by five yards from the six-furlong marker to the two-furlong marker in the straight.
This will increase all race distances on the round course by about 15 yards.
Seamus Buckley, Clerk of the Course at Goodwood, commented at 2.30pm on Tuesday: “There was 1.5 millimetres of rain overnight but, with generally drying conditions, the going is now good, good to firm in places on the round course. It is good to firm on the loops.
“In view of the forecast for rain on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, we have no plans to water. The forecast is suggesting there will be between eight and 10mm of rain. There is still plenty of moisture in the ground, which will take the rainfall quite well.”
Get tips for each day of the festival on this website and a festival preview in the Observer - out on Thursday morning