The 2016 Qatar Goodwood Festival countdown is on - and we know the runners for all the first day’s big races, headlined by the £300,000 G2 Qatar Lennox Stakes.
The 3.10pm has 14 confirmations and is staged over seven furlongs for three-year-olds and older horses.
Last year’s winner and close second in 2014 Toormore (Richard Hannon) goes forward again, along with the 2015 neck runner-up Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills).
Both run in the colours of Godolphin, which could also be represented by Home Of The Brave (Hugo Palmer), unbeaten in two starts over seven furlongs this year including in the G3 Jury Stakes at Haydock Park, recent Chester Listed scorer Birchwood (Richard Fahey) and Richard Pankhurst (John Gosden).
Markaz (Owen Burrows) was also a G3 winner on his latest start in the six-furlong Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle on June 25. The four-year-old Dark Angel colt is also a G3 winner over seven furlongs, having taken the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket in 2015.
Burrows said today: “The plan is that Markaz is more than likely to run in the Qatar Lennox Stakes on Tuesday.
“He in good form and I have been pleased with him since he won the Chipchase Stakes.
“We mentioned after that run that we might look at the July Cup with him, but we felt that it just came soon enough after Newcastle.
“He obviously won over seven furlongs last year but he might have possibly got a bit quicker as he has got older. Paul Mulrennan said at Newcastle that the same thing happened to his full-sister Mecca’s Angel.
“We are back over seven furlongs at Goodwood and that will hopefully tell us a bit more about his future plans.”
Other contenders include Air Force Blue (Aidan O’Brien), last season’s leading juvenile. Having disappointed in both the Newmarket and Irish 2000 Guineas, he showed some promise last time out in the July Cup.
Ireland’s champion Flat trainer could also be represented by Air Vice Marshal, who was fourth in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas and sixth in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.
Lumiere (Mark Johnston) was a G1 winner in 2015, taking the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. After a disappointing reappearance in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, she bounced back to form when winning the Listed Sir Henry Stakes over a mile at Newmarket on July 7.
The opening day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival also features the G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes (2.35pm, 21 entries), run over seven furlongs for two-year-olds and worth £200,000.
Galileo Gold won this race 12 months ago and has gone on to win two G1 races this year, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes.
This year’s entries for the Qatar Vintage Stakes are headed by Boynton (Charlie Appleby) and Mehmas (Richard Hannon), who have both won already in G2 company.
Godolphin’s Boynton collected the seven-furlong Superlative Stakes by three quarters of a length from War Decree (Aidan O’Brien) at Newmarket’s July Meeting. Mehmas, owned by Al Shaqab Racing, collected the six-furlong July Stakes at the same meeting when beating Intelligence Cross (Aidan O’Brien) by half a length.
There are a number of impressive maiden winners among the entries, with Jackhammer (William Knight) offering local interest. The son of Thewayyouare won on his only start for Angmering Park-based Knight when successful at Salisbury over seven furlongs on June 22.
Knight said today: “Jackhammer is ground dependent, so it is 50-50 at this stage whether he will go to the Qatar Vintage Stakes. I am living in hope that there may be some thunderstorms about.
“It was soft ground when he won at Salisbury. I don’t think he actually needs soft ground but he does want genuine good ground. We will just have to see what happens.
“I think Jackhammer is a smart colt and he should be a mile and a half horse next year. He has definitely got a bit of class about him.”
The opening day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival also features highly-competitive handicap action, headlined by the £100,000 Better Odds With Matchbook Summer Handicap (3.45pm, 40 entries) over a mile and three quarters and the opening Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap (2.00pm, 37 entries) over just short of 10 furlongs.
Also on Tuesday’s card are the £30,000 Weatherbys Private Bank Handicap (4.20pm, 30 entries), the £20,000 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing EBF Stallions Maiden (4.55pm, 25 entries) and the concluding £30,000 Smarter Bets With Matchbook Betting Exchange Fillies’ Handicap (5.30pm, 28 entries).
Latest going news
The going at Goodwood remains:
Good - Straight Course
Good to Firm, Good in places - Round Course
Seamus Buckley, clerk of the course, said this afternoon: “It is another hot day at Goodwood and we watered some of the round course last night and will be watering other parts of it this evening.
“I am happy with the ground - we are watering to maintain the current going descriptions and there is plenty of moisture in the ground. There is the possibility of a shower or two on Friday, which we would welcome, but otherwise the forecast is for dry conditions.”
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