The Tom Dascombe-trained six-year-old, available at 7-2 for this afternoon’s feature, has been in terrific form this season, starting off with an impressive victory in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, and following up with an easy success in another Group 3 at Sandown. On the back of those victories he was just 5-1 to land the Ascot Gold Cup but the combination of very fast ground and the two-and-a-half-mile trip found him out. He certainly wasn’t disgraced, finishing fourth, beaten five lengths behind Leading Light, with one of today’s rivals, former Gold Cup winner Estimate, two places in front of him.
It’s a minor concern that he ran on very soft ground at Longchamp less than three weeks ago, but the return to Goodwood is a positive, as is the two-mile trip. Today’s going is a little faster than ideal, but he has shown in the past that he can cope with the conditions, notably when runner-up to Masked Marvel in the 2011 St Leger.
He had two of today’s rivals, Ahzeemah and Cavalryman, behind when running away with this race in 2013, and this renewal isn’t appreciably tougher. On Gold Cup form he has something to find with today’s favourite, Estimate, but the drop in trip is the key to reversing the form. The mare travelled more kindly at Ascot than did the selection and yet when asked to quicken off the last bend, Brown Panther went away from the mare.
It was only in the final quarter of a mile, when his stamina ebbed away, that she managed to get on terms. On that evidence, Brown Panther would appear to have more speed than the market leader, and his jockey, Richard Kingscote, can employ it to best effect at this track.
Estimate is quite lightly raced and could be open to further improvement, but will have to show some progress to win here. Cavalryman was well beaten in this race last year, but the eight-year-old is at least as good as ever and has place claims.
At much bigger prices, Brass Ring and Ahzeemah make some each-way appeal, particularly the latter, who finished runner-up to Brown Panther in 2013.
In the Group 2 Richmond Stakes, Ivawood sets a very high standard and is difficult to oppose despite having to give weight away to numerous unexposed rivals. He is a son of Zebedee, who was also trained by the Hannon team and, in a two-year-old season which constituted his entire racing career, he showed tremendous speed, including when winning the Molecomb at this meeting.
His son has also shown plenty of pace, beginning with an impressive debut success, in which he had two subsequent winners behind. That came over the minimum trip, and he made a successful step up to six furlongs when beating one of today’s rivals, Jungle Cat, quite comprehensively in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket. The manner of his victory was quite fetching, and
He carries a penalty for that victory but it shouldn’t be enough to stop him. After Highland Reel’s impressive victory in yesterday’s Vintage Stakes, he can reclaim his position at the top of the market for next year’s Newmarket 2000 Guineas with a big performance today.
Local eyes will be on Mick Winters’ Missunited, who contests the Lillie Langtry stakes over 14 furlongs. Under a great ride from Jim Crowley, who is on board again, the seven-year-old ran her heart out to finish a close third in the Ascot Gold Cup.
That was a lifetime best from the 2013 Galway Hurdle winner, and the only concern for today is the drop in trip.
The value in the race could lie with last year’s Epsom Oaks winner, Talent, who finished second behind Leading Light in the Doncaster St Leger.
She has her quirks, but her two runs this season should have put her spot on for today. Few ride this track better than Richard Hughes, who is back on board now for the first time since riding her to victory in the Oaks.
With Stella Bellissima’s inexperience and doubts about Nymphea’s stamina, Talent will be very hard to keep out of the frame and, at 9-2, she looks great value.