Watch the Betfred Mile and three other races from Glorious Goodwood live on Channel 4
Day four of Glorious Goodwood provides plenty of puzzles for punters to get their teeth stuck into, and the biggest challenge of the day – perhaps the week so far – is the Betfred Mile (3.05), a valuable handicap for which 18 runners are set to go to post.
Captain Cat made good strides on the all-weather during the spring and will be a force to be reckoned with if translating that improvement back to turf.
He’s been raised 8lb for scoring at Lingfield when last seen in April, but the fact that he’s entered in the Group 2 Celebration Mile here later this month suggests that connections harbour high hopes for the five-year-old.
He does still have something to prove on a couple of counts, though, and at around the 7/1 mark he’s too short for my liking. He is currently vying favouritism with Veloce, who scored in good style at Sandown last month and is accorded a great deal of respect despite going up 9lb for that three-length victory.
However, the one that makes most appeal is HORSTED KEYNES, who also looks progressive and was arguably unlucky not to land the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
He was never in the hunt in the International Stakes at that Berkshire venue the following month, finishing mid-division, but he got caught back further than ideal and wasn’t given a hard time.
Roger Varian’s charge shapes as though this sharp mile will be right up his street, he’s still relatively unexposed and at 12/1 with BetVictor he is too good to miss.
The winner of the International, Heavy Metal, renews rivalry here but things rather went his way at Ascot and a bigger threat could be posed by Heaven’s Guest, who fared best of those held up in that valuable handicap, finishing fourth.
In the opening race on the card, the Coutts Glorious Stakes (1.55), it will be fascinating to see how 2012 St Leger hero Encke fares on his belated return to action. He’s much the best horse in this Group 3 contest, but his wellbeing has to be taken on trust following a 685-day absence.
Conversely, there are no doubts on that front where PETHER’S MOON is concerned and Richard Hannon’s charge, who can be backed at 13/8 with William Hill, is the one to be on.
The progressive four-year-old has come a long way since landing a handicap at this meeting last year, subsequently developing into a genuine group-class performer. He was a close third behind Cavalryman in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket last time, form which the winner franked when bagging the big stayers’ race here yesterday.
Assuming that Encke does need the run, Cafe Society could be the one to chase Pether’s Moon home. On ratings the David Simcock-trained gelding has plenty to find with several of his rivals, but he ran a fine race in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot on his latest start and a reproduction of that will see him finish in the money here.
The Hannon team also have a rock-solid contender in the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes (2.30), with the reliable Shifting Power, who has finished in the frame in Group 1 races in his last three starts, taking his chance.
He’s not passed over lightly, but it would be dangerous to discount BOW CREEK, who represents the red-hot Mark Johnston yard. The Shamardal colt ran a blinder when second in the 30-runner Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot last time and could prove hard to peg back if ridden enterprisingly on this sharp track.
Lightning Thunder will be a danger to all if able to reproduce form akin to her second-placed effort in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, while Hors de Combat wasn’t far behind the selection in the Britannia and shouldn’t be underestimated either.
Extortionist returned to form when landing a Group 3 at Sandown last month and, with Ryan Moore again in the saddle, the Dandy Man colt rates a worthy favourite for the Betfred King George Stakes (3.40), which will be fast and furious.
The concern, however, is that Olly Stevens’ charge has done all his winning on stiffer, galloping tracks. This razor-sharp, downhill sprint will present an altogether new challenge and I’m tempted to take a chance on HAMZA at a tasty 16/1 with Bet365.
Kevin Ryan’s charge hasn’t fired the last twice, but he landed a strong renewal of the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket in April and this speedy gelding could take some catching if the first-time visor has the desired effect. Another big plus point is the presence of Richard Hughes in the saddle.