RIBCHESTER RIGHT UP THERE WITH THE BEST
July 31st, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News
I’m sorry it wasn’t possible to update in time for the weekend. I was at Goodwood and had to sort out various things, on top of which we are due to take a fortnight’s break in Canada shortly.
I wouldn’t have tipped you the winner of the Stewards’ Cup. I was torn between too many but I thought Orion’s Bow might just be able to defy another 6lb increase. He couldn’t quite manage it and maybe his most recent victory made the difference. Dancing Star had a similar profile to last year’s winner; in her case, the 6lb penalty for winning at Newmarket was the only thing that made participation possible because she scraped in on the bottom rung. The wayy the race was run, with Ridge Ranger certain to lead on the far side, meant that she had the perfect target to aim at and it was no surprise when she closed in to 9/2 favourite.
We were right about Ribchester, who cannot be far behind the very best over a mile and should not be afraid to take on The Gurkha and co again if the opportunity presents itself. His long, raking stride was closing down the front two close home in the Sussex Stakes but he could not quite get there in time.
Franklin D on Friday was a certainty in many people’s eyes, though these things do not really exist in racing. In fact, he had a clear-cut chance and ticked every single box, including draw and, needless to say, jockey. But 7/4 in red-hot handicaps would have you in Carey Street sooner than the Bahamas and he only just lasted home. Michael Bell is an interesting trainer who talks a lot of sense, though no one could remember a blistering spell like this.
I didn’t bet well. Ribchester should have been a major Tote place only investment and paid 21/10. There was rain in the air on Thursday and the bookmakers were happy to lay Quest For More in the Goodwood Cup. I don’t think the conditions changed enough for the result to be affected but he wants it genuinely firm and I’d be inclined to stay with him. He was much closer to Big Orange last year, running him to a neck, and that is the true measure of his ability. Depending upon where the principals go next, I’d be very interested in him in the Stayers’ on Champions Day if we have a dry autumn.
Growl was staying on well in the Stewards’ Cup and for those prepared to let the form pay off in lesser contests, Little Palaver and Pixeleen, second and third to him at Nottingham, fought out a close finish at Chepstow on Sunday. The form – those two re-opposing with Little Palaver 4lb better off, and Ice Age 4lb worse with Pixeleen after beating her a neck at Windsor, worked out to the ounce as they finished first, second and third. The bet, needless to say, with Ice Age moderately drawn, was the first two in a reversed forecast. No, I’m afraid not is the answer to your next question. I’m afraid it was just that sort of week, though Arty Campbell, strongly recommended in the midweek blog as one to watch for a staying handicap, managed to mend a few fences at Chepstow.
I have mentioned before that I cannot find Mark Johnston’s winners on the right day and nothing happened at Goodwood to change that. He just has lots of tough older handicappers who seem to come right on important days. I acknowledge absolute that they are always trying but performances seem to improve at Goodwood in particular. And, of course, he often has two or three in the race.
That remark applies to Godolphin, as well. They go for big handicaps these days and their whole approach has changed. There have been many winners and Kiwi jockey James McDonald has been a revelation, but things are very hard indeed for punters.