Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Ox: Repeating Saddler's Rock triumph will be tough

Nick Robson

John Oxx feels Saddler's Rock is heading into the defence of his Artemis Goodwood Cup crown in better form than he was before he disappointed in the Ascot Gold Cup.

However, the Currabeg handler believes this year's renewal is a much stronger race, with horses like Mount Athos and Brown Panther stepping up in trip and unexposed in staying terms.


Saddler's Rock looked set to be one of the major protagonists in the staying division after his win 12 months ago but it has not worked out for one reason or another.


"It was a great day last year but he went last year after a good run at Ascot and this year he disappointed there," said Oxx.


"This year he was just flat, but he'd had a little setback before it. We've had five weeks to freshen him up and his work has been good.


"I hope he's back in the same sort of form and we know that he likes the track and the ground should have dried up enough for him.


"I don't think going to Dubai has affected him, he'd have run well out there if his saddle hadn't slipped.


"He should run well again but it looks a tougher race this year, there are a few new horses to take on."


Fresh from landing the biggest victory of his career with King George hero Novellist at Ascot on Saturday, German trainer Andreas Wohler returns to Britain with Altano.


Altano has already run in England, having contested the Ascot Gold Cup where he caught the eye when running on late into fifth.


Wohler hopes for a strongly-run race on the Sussex Downs, which will hopefully allow the seven-year-old's abundant stamina to come into play.


"He ran very well in the Gold Cup in what was a slowly-run race. I hope there is more pace at Goodwood," said Wohler.


"He always hits a flat point in his races before finishing strongly, so it is better for him when there is more pace.


"He is in good form, it looks an open race and I hope he has a good chance.


"The ground doesn't matter to him. He ran well on fast ground at Ascot and has won on heavy ground before."


John Gosden runs Caucus, winner of a Listed prize at Sandown last time out.


Previously the six-year-old had finished second to subsequent Gold Cup winner Estimate in the Sagaro Stakes, form which gives him leading claims.


"He won the Esher in a very good time," Gosden told At The Races.


"He's in very good order and we've had this race in mind for a long time.


"The owner/breeders' (Normandie Stud) stud is very close by, so this race makes sense."


Number Theory's winning spree from last season may have come to an end but he continues to run well, most recently when third in Listed company at York.


Trainer John Holt said: "The rain they've had was very welcome, all his best form last year was on good to soft ground.


"Going back up in trip should suit him and while it's a tough race, he's very well and very consistent.


"I think he goes there with a decent each-way shout."


Mount Athos is the likely favourite and while Luca Cumani has made no secret of the fact his whole season is being built around the Melbourne Cup again, in which he finished fifth last year, it would be a bonus if they can pick up another nice prize along the way having won the Ormonde at Chester.


"We're hoping the ground will be good by the time of the race, it wasn't that bad on Tuesday and not much more rain is forecast," said Cumani.


"He won on good to soft at Chester and it shouldn't be any worse than that.


"We think the Goodwood Cup places less emphasis on stamina than the other Cup races which is why he is running in this.


"Whether he'd run again before Melbourne after this I don't know, we'll have to see how he comes out of this and decide whether we think he needs another run."


Saeed bin Suroor runs three with last year's Gold Cup winner Colour Vision joined by Ahzeemah and Cavalryman.


"Colour Vision ran well at Royal Ascot (fourth) and the visor helped him focus. He is doing well but we wouldn't want to see much more rain before Thursday," Bin Suroor told


"Cavalryman won over this distance in Dubai and the return to two miles will suit him. He won't mind cut in the ground and heads to Goodwood in good order.


"Ahzeemah doesn't like soft ground but he tries very hard in his races and I was pleased with him at Newmarket. Two miles will be fine for him and he should give another good account of himself, providing the ground is OK."

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