At Goodwood on Wednesday, Poetic Flare didn’t show the brilliance we saw at Ascot and didn’t seem as at home on the rolling Sussex downs as he did on the level Berkshire plains but take nothing away from the brilliant Alcohol Free, who landed a blow for the females.
At Galway, Paul Townend and Willie Mullins combined to win their second Plate together when Royal Rendezvous put in a spectacular round of jumping to go one better than 2020. Both he and Paul were a joy to watch as they led the field a merry dance and just held off the gallant challenge of Easy Game.
The pandemic may be slowing many things down, but it hasn’t managed to slow time, so Thursday is a new day, and over at Goodwood, the fillies take centre stage in the Nassau Stakes.
Only six will start, but you have a Breeders’ Cup winner, a French Oaks winner, and the Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine in that six. The two Irish fillies, Joan Of Arc and Empress Josephine, have their chances, and I like the former.
Audarya’s form has taken a bit of beating since Royal Ascot with Love and Armory both losing since while Joan Of Arc showed definite improvement when stepped up to Thursday’s trip at Chantilly last time out.
The action at Galway doesn’t start until the dust has settled at Goodwood and it kicks off with what used to be the traditional Monday night opener, a four-year-old novice hurdle.
Willie Mullins runs two, impressive Cork winner Farout and the maiden Tax For Max.
Paul Townend has selected Tax For Max on what I presume was the evidence of their Grade Three clash at Fairyhouse in February, where Tax for Max was a long way infront of Farout.
However, the form of their last runs would suggest he could easily have picked the other way, and I would favour a winner over a maiden.
A pair of former high-class hurdlers clash over fences in the second race, where City Island’s chasing experience and course form gives him the edge over Bleu Berry.
That said, don’t let me put you off the Luke McMahon-owned runner. He’s in terrific form at home.
Willie Mullins fires three darts at Henry de Bromhead’s Gin On Lime in the third and while there’s safety in numbers, horses can’t run relay legs in races so I don’t see how any can beat this impressive daughter of Doctor Dino.
She blew me away at Killarney, got the job done at Wexford, and was slick at Limerick. Darragh O’Keeffe steps in for the injured Rachel Blackmore and should enjoy a thrilling spin around Ballybrit.
The most valuable handicap hurdle in Europe delivers excitement every year and, with more and more people targeting the contest, the battle to get a place in the Galway Hurdle field is nearly as hard as winning it.
Winner Takes Itall won a win and you’re in contest (for the Galway Hurdle) at Bellewstown and, with Galway being the animal it is, some more summer festivals could do with these races to attract decent horses and make the build-up to Thursday even stronger.
He has his chance but is not my pick and, outside the trio of Willie Mullins horses that I will be cheering for, Call Me Lyreen gets my vote.
He’s a progressive second-season novice with handicap experience and a run style to suit the hustle and bustle of Thursday evening’s contest. Shark Hanlon’s Skyace will have her usual legion of followers but may find the trip short of her best.
JP McManus has four runners, Hearts Are Trumps, Magic Tricks, and Ciel De Neige joining Winner Takes Itall in the famous green and gold colours.
I know most about Ciel De Neige, who has always promised to deliver a big pot, but my only fear for him is the tight track and if he has enough gears to take the gaps he will need to get through to win.
Saldier shoulders top weight but is dropping down in grade while Burning Victory needs a career-best on the jumping front to get involved. That said, I only managed to win this once, and Clondaw Warrior jumped terribly that afternoon. Perhaps that doesn’t matter.
Royal Ascot runner-up MC Muldoon can recoup the losses at 7.15pm in the Guinness Novice Hurdle but both of Willies runners in the second last have been disappointing this season. Attain Kangaroo and Manito Park have been expensive to follow and might be best watched, but the lucky last could see a surprise. Patrick Mullins has opted for Dads Lad, but I am willing to go for Carfax, who I think has improved fitness-wise from his debut.