Glorious Goodwood - DAY ONE
The 2018 Qatar Goodwood Festival began today, kicking off five fabulous days of flat-racing acttion.
Around 100,000 race-goers will flock to the South Downs over the five days for a top-class array of races which offer more than Â£5m in prize money.
Tuesday's highlights were the Qatar Goodwood Cup and the Qatar Lennox Cup - with similar showpiece races to follow on every other day of the festival.
Here's how day one unfolded, with the last updates at the top...
5.30 The final race, the Matchbook Time To Move Over Fillies' Handicap, goes to Move Swiftly, the 9/2 joint favourite ridden by James Doyle for Haggas - the trainer completing a first-day double
4.50 And we have the biggest-priced winner of the afternoon as the Chelsea Barracks Handicap is won by Under The Covers, a 16/1 starter for PJ McDonald and Ron Harris, beating El Astronaute.
4.15 Watar wins the Nginious! Swiss Gin EBF Maiden Stakes for Al Shaqab Racing, Richard Hannon and Ryan Moore - at 6/1 - ahead of Dirty Rascal and Enough Already, the latter a 25/1 chance.
That means two of our tipsters - Dave Stevens and Adam Waterworth - each have three winners from five selections so far. I'm in second place with two, Alex Eade has one winner, Ed Chamberlin has none... so far. He was a slow starter last year and ended up winning, so don't write him off.
3.40. He's done it! Stradivariius justifies his status as odds-on favourite to land the Qatar Goodwood Cup for the second year in a row - but he was made to work so, so hard by Torcedor, the second favourite. Andrea Atzeni and his mount get a wonderful reception as they come back into the winner's enclosure and trainer John Gosden - winner of so many big races at Goodwood down the years - is all smiles.
Torcedor was second for Jessica Harrington and a brave run from Idaho ends in third place.
Gosden said of the Bjorn Nielsen-owned-and-bred Stradivarius: "We had a great horse race on Saturday in the King George, and another great horse race today - two really brave horses who both had a tough race at Royal Ascot [in the Gold Cup]. Colm [O'Donoghue, who rode Torcedor] rode a clever race in front today and did everything right, but our horse battled hard.
"The pace was a little stop-go, which you would expect at Goodwood when someone is in front and making the running to suit themselves, and to that extent we had work to do to get past him. With the Aga Khan's horse [Vazirabad] not coming for this race, and Order Of St George absent too, Torcedor became the obvious danger, and when Jessie [Harrington] left him in at the six-day stage I thought 'Oh, oh, we're in for a battle', but it proved to produce a fabulous race."
Atzeni said: "Stradivarius is a different horse compared to last year. I remember when I won on him last year, he was quite narrow. He has done a tremendous job as a four-year-old. I remember at York on his first run this year, I walked into the paddock and didn't recognise him because of how well he had done.
"I am in a very lucky position to be here. Unfortunately, Frankie (Dettori) is suspended, but he has been very helpful. This is what it's all about, these big days.
"Colm rode a very good race from the front. The only problem today was that I had to get around James Doyle's horse, who pushed me wide, whereas Colm had a nice run up the rail. I felt I always had Colm covered, and the last thing I wanted to do today was give Stradivarius a hard race."
3.10 Sir Dancealot wins the Lennox Stakes as 5/1 joint favourite - and that's the third favourite or joint market leader to win from three. Suedois was second and last year's winner Breton Rock, at one stage threatening a surprise double win in the race, was third.
Veteran trainer David Elsworth is delighted by Sir Dancealot's win: 'He got into more trouble than I get into down the pub on a Saturday night after I have had a few. Sir Dancealot would have been a very unlucky loser. I describe Sir Dancealot to the owners as like a tennis ball. He is bouncing up, going up, and I just wondered if he had reached the point of equilibrium - whether he had stopped or was even coming down. His level of form has been very good, which gave him a very good chance today."
2.45pm. There'e a cracking atmopshere at Goodwood today. The crowd is large but not too large; the weather warm but not hot. Just right. Same for the rest of the week would do nicely but I suspect the crowd figures and the temperatures are only going to go up from here.
2.30pm The Group 2 Qatar Vintage Stakes goes to Dark Vision (Silvestre de Sousa / Mark Johnston - 100/30 favourite). It would be wrong of me not to point out I tipped that one.
I should also point out that as well as pointing you towards Crowley as a man in Goodwood form, we said the same about trainer Johnston. He'd had seven Goodwood winners this year before today, more than double the number managed by any other trainer.
Johnston said: "I never really thought that when I sent Dark Vision to Yarmouth that he would be coming to a Group Two race. When he missed the break today I thought it was all over. I was just thinking that I have got to go home and teach this horse to come out of the stalls, and, at that stage, if he had come fourth, I would have said I had a really nice horse on my hands. I did not think until a furlong out that we had any chance of winning."
1.55pm- The first race of the 37 to be run this week, the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap, goes to Alfarris, ridden by Jim Crowley for trainer William Haggas, the 13/2 favourite. Don't say we didn't tell you Crowley could be one to follow this week.
That's a good tipping start to the week for one of our five-strong panel - Coral's Dave Stevens selected Alfarris here
Second in the 1.50 was Plutonian (20/1), third Original Choice (9/1).
Winning trainer Haggas said: "Jim knows he is a horse who can pull up in front, and we felt he might have done that at Sandown, but he didn't appear to do that today. Jim felt he got there a little too early today, but he won anyway. He will probably go to York next - he seems to like the northern air as much as does his trainer - but I fancy putting him up in grade at some time as I think he's quite smart.
1.20pm - No fewer than 88 runners were declared for the opening day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, but for large sections of the sporting press it is a one-horse show.Stradivarius, a four-year-old chesnut colt with the nickname 'Mighty Mouse', is the go-to performer, the horse who has at least two, or maybe three, of his four white socks firmly around the neck of the Â£500,000 G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup. He faces six rivals, but after an impressive win in the race last year, and a recent victory over Europe's leading stayers in the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, this is a Mouse to bring down the house.
1.10pm The weather really couldn't be much better. The rain the racecourse needed has come - and now gone - and the sun has come out. Furthermore, it's not too hot. Warm but breezy I think you'd call it.
12.30pm. Ed Arkell, Goodwood's Clerk of the Course, is officiating at his first Qatar Goodwood Festival after taking over from Seamus Buckley, who retired at the end of last season.
He has had to cope with a very dry spell for nearly two months, from the beginning of June until Friday evening, without hardly any rain. This led to lots of watering and the groundstaff team have worked around the clock to keep the track in optimum condition.
The welcome rain finally came on Friday evening and overnight into Saturday, with five millimetres falling, and then there was the deluge on Sunday which delivered another 18.3 millimetres. There was 1.1 millimetres early on Monday and rather more than expected overnight, 4.8 millimetres.