ADAM WATERWORTH says the second day of Goodwood’s August Bank Holiday Festival wouldn’t be out of place during Glorious week.
Saturday’s line-up includes the Group 2 Betfair Celebration Mile, the Group 3 Whiteley Clinic Prestige Stakes, the listed March Stakes and the Betfair Cash out Heritage Handicap - with the first and last of those contests each worth £100,000.
The Celebration Mile is the biggest race of the year on the Downs outside of Glorious and racecourse officials are heartened by a list of entries that, ahead of today’s final declarations, included plenty of highly-rated contenders.
Last year’s winner Premio Loco, trained by Chris Wall, is due to come back to defend the title on the back of an excellent second place at 40/1 in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, while Boom And Bust - winner of Goodwood’s Betfred Mile in 2011 - was also in the line-up at the five-day stage.
Luca Cumani entered Afsare, who landed the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury last week by six lengths, while Irish champion trainer Aidan O’Brien had three entries - including Gale Force Ten and Most improved, both Royal Ascot winners in the past two seasons.
The Prestige Stakes for two-year-olds will get Saturday’s card off to a flyer and had ten entries ahead of the final cut, while the seven-furlong Betfair Cash Out Heritage Handicap attracted a bumper crop of 32 would-be runners.
The exciting Cape Peron could attempt to atone for a narrow defeat at Glorious Goodwood in the 2.55pm race.
Although Saturday’s racing is the highest class of the three days of the festival, Friday and Sunday also include plenty to whet the appetite - such as the feature race on Sunday, the Group 3 Greene King Prestige Stakes.
Waterworth said: “This is our second most-important meeting of the year after Glorious and we’re absolutely delighted with the line-up of races and with how they’re shaping up in terms of entries.
“Saturday’s card wouldn’t look out of place at Glorious with two £100,000 races but the whole three days of racing looks pretty strong.
“It’s good to see horses who have performed well here earlier in the season or before that coming back, along with horses who have shown up well at Royal Ascot and other top festivals.”
Trainer Cumani is confident in Afsare’s abilities to record a second win in ten days in the Celebration Mile.
The six-year-old’s success at Salisbury was his first start over the trip since he captured a Newmarket maiden in May, 2010, but the son of Dubawi has proved himself a top-class performer over longer trips, including when an unlucky second in the Arlington Million over 10 furlongs last year.
Cumani said: “Afsare has come out of Salisbury in good form and is likely to run in the Betfair Celebration Mile.
“We had been thinking about running him over a mile for a good while, but unfortunately he refused to go into the stalls at Ascot for the Summer Mile.
“Luckily, he went into the stalls at Salisbury and it was a good performance.
“The track at Goodwood will be no problem and I will be happy if he runs another nice race.”
The 14 confirmations include the David Simcock-trained Trade Storm, who will carry a 3lb penalty and Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes runner-up Thistle Bird.
Also among those going forward is the Aidan O’Brien-trained trio of Most Improved, the impressive winner of last season’s St James’s Palace Stakes, Jersey Stakes scorer Gale Force Ten and QIPCO 2000 Guineas fifth Cristoforo Columbo.
Saturday’s seven-race card at Goodwood gets under way with the £40,000 Whiteley Clinic Prestige Stakes (2.20pm) over seven furlongs.
The two-year-old contest, in which subsequent triple Group One winner Sky Lantern finished second last year, has attracted ten contenders headed by course and distance scorer Amazing Maria, Richard Hannon’s Group Three Sweet Solera Stakes runner-up Midnite Angel and impressive maiden winner Valen.
Valen, the daughter of Acclamation, was an encouraging fifth in a competitive six-furlong maiden at Glorious Goodwood on July 31, and showed the benefit of that experience with an effortless three-length success over the same trip at Ffos Las last week.
Trainer Michael Bell revealed: “Valen came out of Ffos Las fine and is an intended runner in the Whiteley Clinic Prestige Stakes. She’s had an easy week and we will just keep her ticking over between now and the weekend.
“She ran a very nice race from a bad draw at Goodwood under hands and heels and then won impressively at Ffos Las with a horse who was second in a Newmarket maiden back in third.
“Saturday’s race looks like a suitable opportunity and the step up to seven furlongs will be to her advantage. She is on an upward curve and hopefully she will give a very good account of herself.
“She has a plenty of scope and I think she is still a bit on the weak side, so she will furnish up nicely over the winter.”
Valen could also clash with Ascot maiden winner Lilyfire, from the stable of Roger Charlton, and listed runner-up Qawaasem, trained by Charlie Hills.
The Bank Holiday meeting concludes on Sunday, when the £60,000 Greene King Supreme Stakes takes centre stage. A total of 20 horses have been entered for the seven-furlong contest, headlined by Group Two winner Penitent and impressive Group Three Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes victor Montiridge.