Elliott finally set for Galway Hurdle glory with Timiyan
For a big-field handicap, the Galway Hurdle (4.35) has been kind to punters in recent years, with Clondaw Warrior and Quick Jack, the last two winners, both priced 9/2, while Thomas Edison was well supported in 2014 at 7/2.
Gordon Elliott has never won the big race, but has had numerous horses placed through the years - including three consecutive seconds - and you get the feeling it's just a matter of time before he lands it.
Of his runners today, Timiyan may finally break the duck at around 8/1 under Aidan Coleman.
Rated 135, his racing weight of 10st 4lbs does not appear too burdensome and he's come on a lot under Elliott's care having finished ninth in a handicap hurdle at this course for Dermot Weld back in October.
With a tongue-strap newly applied, he won his first two starts for Elliott and to see him pull clear in a handicap at Ballinrobe last time suggests he's got more to come.
Tigris River also has strong claims for Joseph O'Brien under Barry Geraghty. He easily won a minor event at Bellewstown last time and that came on the back of a comfortable win in a staying handicap on the flat at the Curragh.
Willie Mullins has had Galway in mind for Townshend for quite some time and the six-year-old is likely to be popular in the Grade Three Guinness Open Gate Brewery Novice Steeplechase (2.15).
However, preference is for Jessica Harrington's Don't Touch It, available at 9/4 yesterday. A Grade One winning hurdler, he put in a career best over fences last time when winning a Grade B Handicap Chase at Punchestown in April.
Priced in the region of 7/2, Raymonda looks the one to beat in the Listed Arthur Guinness Irish EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes (3.25). Dermot Weld's filly hasn't won a race since last summer in four attempts, but she's got the best form in the book and has been putting in some respectable displays in Group Three company. Music Box can follow her home.
At Goodwood, Charlie Appleby's Endless Time takes a step down in class for the Group Three Lillie Langtry Markel Insurance Fillies' Stakes (2.25), having struggled in the Ascot Gold Cup in June.
She came tenth of 14 in that race, but I wouldn't look too much into that as conditions were all against her. For a start, the firm ground doesn't suit her and she simply couldn't stay that distance.
Class-wise she was also out of her depth and is best judged on her Yorkshire Oaks win in 2016 and her second place in a French Group One in October.
She seemed a little rusty on her seasonal debut when fourth in the Group Two Yorkshire Cup, but Appleby has found a relatively weak race to get her back on track and I was surprised to see some bookmakers go as high as 9/2 yesterday.
Melodic Motion is likely to go off as favourite. She's won three handicaps in a row and is obviously progressing, but this will give us a better indication of just how good the three-year-old might be.
As mentioned in the Lay of the Day section, Cardsharp may go off as favourite for the Richmond Stakes (3.0), but I'm far keener on the William Haggas-trained Headway, which I'm hoping to back at around 7/2.
The market was changing by the hour yesterday and hasn't yet settled down, but that would be a fair price in a fairly open race which contains several promising sorts.
The selection was last seen when finishing a head-second to Rajasinghe in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, having traded near 1/2 in-running.
That result was a little surprising considering his SP was 33/1 and perhaps he hasn't inherited the traits of his dam, On Her Way, which was talented but quite temperamental.
I was going to say the Group One Fillies' Qatar Nassau Stakes (3.35 Goodwood) is all about Winter and I actually thought she'd be a good deal shorter than the 7/4 being quoted in the early betting.
However, this is a high-quality renewal with numerous other Group One winners in there and the more I look into it, the more I feel that this could be the race of the festival.
Aidan O'Brien's English and Irish 1,000 Guineas winner hasn't yet raced at a mile and a quarter, but I doubt it will be a problem. She's one of those horses that seems to ooze class when she races, making you wonder just how good she might be.
Queen's Trust could play a part here as well. Michael Stoute's filly signed off last season with success in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita and while she hasn't won in her two outings this term, her fourth place to Highland Reel in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes against the male horses puts her right up there as a leading contender.
2.25 Goodwood: Endless Time
3.0 Goodwood: Headway
3.25 Galway: Raymonda
3.25 Goodwood: Winter
Lay of the Day
Had you backed all Mark Johnston-trained horses at the Goodwood Festival since 2008, you would have made a profit of over 62 points, so at first glance it would appear to make sense to follow him blindly there.
However, if you drill down a little deeper, you'll see a good chunk of that profit came during an exceptionally good year (2012), where he had seven winners, including Sir Graham Wade (14/1), Hurricane Higgins (14/1) and Landaman (12/1). Overall, his strike-rate at the festival is 11pc, which is respectable, but a good deal lower than the likes of O'Brien (24pc), Hannon (15pc) or Haggas (15pc).
Johnston's Cardsharp is warm in the betting for the Group Two Richmond Stakes (3.0 Goodwood) having beaten a couple of these already, but odds of 3/1 look short in a market which includes several improvers, including Headway, Barraquero and Nebo. It should be a tight affair, but I'm taking him on.