O'Meara to finally go extra Mile with Goodwood raiders
Mark Johnston is the Yorkshire trainer with the Midas touch in Goodwood's festival handicaps, but he is without a runner in today's big betting race, the Betfred Mile, a race in which he has traditionally done well, so we shall have to look elsewhere for the winner.
The search, however, remains based in Yorkshire, and it is to David O'Meara that I look. His Goodwood record is at the other end of the scale to Johnston's, but his career is very much in the nascent stage and he is fancied to get off the mark in style by winning with Two For Two.
O'Meara, who trains in the little village of Nawton, near Helmsley, has already stuck his flag on top of many of the racing landscape's higher peaks, including Royal Ascot, Newmarket and Longchamp. But any winner, at the Goodwood Festival or any regulation meeting at the Sussex track, has so far eluded him.
In a way he is taking a leaf out of Johnston's book today, by targeting three runners at the race, with So Beloved, the apparent stable number one with stable jockey Danny Tudhope on board, and Fort Bastion, in addition to Two For Two, which comes here after a win at Ayr in June. At Ayr, Two For Two was much closer to the pace than he has been, and William Buick, who takes the ride here, would do well to employ similar tactics from a favourable draw, as it will be no fun trying to pick a way through 21 other runners.
One major danger is the Royal Hunt Cup winner GM Hopkins. He may well be the best horse in the race, but a bigger burden than top weight would appear to be his double-digit draw in a race where single figures have dominated in recent years.
Red Avenger, last year's winner, also bounced back to form for the first time since that victory when dead-heating in a race at Newcastle in late June. He races off a 3lb higher mark this time.
O'Meara will also have high hopes for his Prix de l'Abbaye winner Move In Time and the vastly improved Out Do in the ridiculously valuable Qatar King George Stakes over five furlongs, another Group Two along with the Lennox Stakes on Goodwood's hit-list for promotion to the highest level.
Move In Time has never been out of the first two at Longchamp, so the l'Abbaye will be his season's target, but he scored a comfortable success on his reappearance at Hamilton, and there should be good races to be had with him between now and October. He gets in here without a penalty.
Out Do is in the form of his life, having won three of his five starts this season, and I would imagine that even the trainer would find it hard to split them, although it appears Tudhope has put his faith in Out Do.
The Corsican, a good fourth behind Free Eagle at Ascot, was withdrawn recently from the King George because of the ground. Today's Betfred Glorious Stakes looks a great deal easier and he should prove tough to beat.
Meanwhile, it has taken time for both the action and the temperature to warm up on the Downs this week but yesterday's Qatar Goodwood Cup delivered a finish worth waiting for.
Last Saturday's King George provided a memorable duel between Postponed and Eagle Top, and here there was a triple-header in the sunshine with Big Orange's long neck just hitting the finishing line ahead of Quest For More and Trip To Paris.
Michael Bell's gelding takes the plaudits and the lion's share of the £300,000 prize, but the second and third were no less deserving. Quest For More gave everything he had and Trip To Paris was a short head further back when carrying 4lb more than the other two owing to his Gold Cup victory.
"It was thrilling to be part of such a great spectacle, and even better to have won," said Bell, who will prepare towards breaking the long British cycle of defeat in the Melbourne Cup.
It was jockey Jamie Spencer's biggest win this year, having reneged on his decision to retire. "I didn't have that many bullets to fire, he was my best chance by a long way," he said.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)