Wayne Bailey: ''Queen' to gain revenge on old rival Enbihaar'
Expected to go off at 5/2 or thereabouts, Dramatic Queen is my selection for this afternoon's Group Two Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood (3.0), and there is a tentative royal connection as Lillie Langtry herself had an affair with the Prince of Wales, who would later become Edward VII.
Once described by John Millais who painted her portrait as "the most beautiful woman on earth," the socialite and actress was one of the most famous people in Britain during the Victorian period, and it was Oscar Wilde that suggested she embark on an acting career which was ultimately very successful in the United States.
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Langtry has a link to racing too and particularly Goodwood as a horse she owned, Merman, won the Goodwood Cup in 1899 - although she had to register under the name of Mr Jersey (she was born in Jersey), as women were not allowed to own racehorses at that time. Merman also won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1900 and appears to be one of the best stayers in the business at the time.
At 1m6f, the Lillie Langtry Stakes requires quite a bit of stamina, but Dramatic Queen beat today's main rival Enbihaar just short of this trip in the Group Three Bronte Cup at York, and this appears to be her optimal distance.
Enbihaar and Dramatic Queen went head-to-head once again in the Group Two Lancashire Oaks at Haydock last time out and it went to Enbihaar by a neck, but of course that race is over 1m3f, the shorter trip suiting her rival.
Trained by William Haggas, Dramatic Queen is improving with each race, and I'd like to see jockey James Doyle take an early lead and make the others work hard and deplete their reserves, with Enbihaar carrying a penalty.
Last year's winner Pilaster is worth a mention from Roger Varian's yard. She hasn't won a race since, but she's often been running at shorter distances and a return to this trip might bring out the best in her. Manuela De Vega also has claims for Ralph Beckett. She's been racing in Group Ones without success so a drop in class will make things easier, although she's not guaranteed to get the trip.
For something at a bigger price, have a look at Spirit Of Appin, which was available at 7/2 yesterday evening for the Listed Fillies And Mares British Stallion Studs EBF Chalice Stakes at Newmarket (2.05).
Brian Meehan's charge was runner-up at this course and distance in a similar contest last time, with two of today's rivals Love So Deep and Blue Gardenia in fourth and fifth respectively.
She also finished ahead of Crystal Moonlight on another occasion, and she's got a decent chance here based on her handicap win in May at Goodwood.
Shambolic was out of her depth in Group One company last time but may make her presence felt, while likely favourite Bella Vita has clocked up a string of wins in handicaps recently which makes her dangerous. But this is a step up in grade which could be tough, so she's a bit short for me at 3/1.
We've reached the penultimate day of the Galway Festival but there might be a chance to make a few quid there in the Grade B Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle (2.30), where Plinth catches the eye at an each-way price of 16/1.
Trained by Joseph O'Brien, the Montjeu gelding switches back to the smaller obstacles having enjoyed mixed results over fences lately, winning a novice at Kilbeggan this summer and pulled up at Limerick last time. He was below form when last of five in a Grade Three over timber recently, but I'm willing to overlook that effort as he simply didn't settle.
Aged nine, I believe he's the oldest horse in O'Brien's yard, but he was second in a Grade Three in October and may have something left to offer off a rating of 127.
York in crosshairs after superb Battaash joins honours board
Hot favourite Battaash was never going to make anyone rich at odds of 1/4, but the Charlie Hills-trained sprinter earned a spot on the racecourse honours board by becoming the first horse to win the King George Qatar Stakes three times.
On a day when the first four winners had all previously won at the idiosyncratic downland venue, no runner had better horses-for-courses credentials than Battaash.
But it was not quite the stroll of his first two wins after the Australian mare Houtzen, now trained by Martyn Meade, chased him hard to get within three-quarters of a length.
“We’ve worked out a good routine for him now and we will look forward to York (Nunthorpe Stakes in which he has been beaten twice),” said Hills. “We’ve got to go, it is the only five-furlong Group One left here. There is no reason why it shouldn’t suit him. It takes a lot of doing to win a race like that three times and he was always in command.”
“He is all speed,” said winning jockey Jim Crowley. “He’s the fastest five-furlong horse around and he doesn’t really get much further. If there were four-and-a-half furlong races he’d be unbelievable.
“He was not as visually impressive today but he wasn’t doing a lot and I was just hands and heels on him. I didn’t want him to go on and win by five or six lengths and have a hard race because we have got other races for him this year.”
Richard Hannon was still sore about the defeat of Threat in the Richmond Stakes on Thursday. However, Beat Le Bon, the winner of the Golden Mile and Billesdon Brook – which is “10lbs better at Goodwood than anywhere else” – won the Theo Fennell Oak Tree Stakes to just about restore his equilibrium. Both set a track record.
Last year Hannon had considered Beat Le Bon a potential Classic horse and although he may not be that now, he will, no doubt, have to step upwards out of handicaps after Pat Dobbs stuck tenaciously to the rail and a gap opened up beautifully for him to beat Vale Of Kent a length.
“He tried to get up the inside, he’s mad, you can’t do that, but he did it,”said Hannon. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Timmy Murphy (Grand National-winning jockey), who has got this horse to relax. Now he is so relaxed he would get the Gold Cup trip.
“I have always told his owners, Jared Sullivan and Charlie Noell, that I thought he was a good horse but they said ‘don’t give us that flannel!’ I am right and they are wrong for a change.”
Mark Johnston saddled three runners in the nursery and it was his 7/1 shot Homespin which struck gold under James Doyle. (© Daily Telegraph, London)