Escobar and Seniority have plum spots in Golden Mile
Unibet Golden Mile Handicap | 1m | 3yo+ | ITV/RUK
Short of being berthed next to Hannibal Lecter at dinner, it is hard to imagine a worse draw than having a high stall in Goodwood's Golden Mile.
The £150,000 handicap, sponsored for the first time by Unibet, is a race in which the lessons of history tell us it is extremely advantageous to begin from a stall positioned close to the rail – which partly explains why the Queen's Seniority and Escobar, one of three runners for David O'Meara, are vying for favouritism.
In the last ten years three winners have emerged from stall one. Last year's first four home came from stalls three, six, two and seven, while in 2008 stalls one, two, three and four produced the first, second, third and fourth.
Horses with double-figure draws can win the Golden Mile, but only two of them have done so in the last decade, those victors having come from stalls 13 and 15.
Why you don't want a high draw
It is not simply a matter of chance that low-drawn horses fare best in the Golden Mile, which takes place over a track that features much turning and therefore requires horses drawn high to cover a greater distance if not dropped in.
However, there is more to it than that, as Racing Post columnist Richard Hughes noted in a past piece explaining the nuances of riding Goodwood.
"The problem with a high draw isn't just that you're wide," said Hughes. "The stalls are positioned at a part of the hill that puts those on the rail higher up than those on the outside.
"Because of that camber, horses drawn high have to climb much more of the hill than horses drawn on the rail, who pretty much get to run level. As the stalls are, if you like, positioned sideways, a lot of horses also slip coming out of the gates."
Escobar will be a popular choice
The valuable mile handicap run at Sandown on Coral-Eclipse day could have a big bearing.
South Seas ran eye-catchingly to take sixth, but more give underfoot would help him on this occasion and he has stall 13 to overcome. Arguably, therefore, more persuasive are the claims of Escobar, a fine second at Sandown, a solid Group 3 fifth at this meeting 12 months ago, and one of three runners here for David O'Meara.
"I'm happy with Escobar and he's drawn pretty well in two," said O'Meara. "He's been to Goodwood before and run well but the three times he's been to Ascot, where he was 11th in the Hunt Cup, he hasn't run so well.
"The race should suit Firmament, and Mythical Madness ran well in it last year."
What they say
David Elsworth, trainer of Master The World
I'm cautiously optimistic. He's run well in the race the last two years and the strong pace they go over the mile seems to play to his strengths. We've been running him over a mile and a quarter, but that hasn't taken away any of his speed.
Andrew Balding, trainer of South Seas, Zwayyan and Isomer
Based on his ability South Seas would have a big chance but he does need luck. He's a Group winner and ran a nice race last time. I do hope, though, the ground doesn't dry out much more. Zwayyan also wouldn't want the ground to get much quicker. We'll assess things nearer the race. I'd have been expecting a good run, but he's been drawn in the car park. Isomer's best form gives him a chance.
Charlie Fellowes, trainer of Repercussion
He has a cracking draw, which is a big plus. He didn't get home in the Hunt Cup but I think the track is going to suit him much more this time. He's a free-going type, so easier tracks suit him. At Ascot he didn't get away with it. My concern would be he's better with some cut in the ground.
William Haggas, trainer of Seniority and Original Choice
Seniority is in good form and has a good draw. Original Choice ran really well on Tuesday and is back to a mile. I'm concerned the ground will get a a bit quick for him. He stayed down there and was full of life this morning apparently.
Karl Burke, trainer of Borderforce
He's a new horse to us, we've had him only a month or six weeks. He came from Francis Graffard to run in these types of races for the owners. He's in great form but could do with a bit softer ground as his best form is with plenty of cut. He should run a nice race but is a bit of an unknown quantity.
Michael Bell, trainer of Fire Brigade
He has a low draw, which is a huge advantage. He's a relatively exposed horse but he's in good form and I'd like to think he'll be competitive.
Richard Fahey, trainer of Third Time Lucky
He's probably better with a bit of juice in the ground, which he's not going to get. He's well in and in good form, so for £150,000 he must take his chance.
Charlie Johnston, assistant and son of Mark, trainer of Masham Star and Poet's Society
Masham Star ran well on Wednesday, but he’s probably just slightly better at a mile now. He’s got an almost impossible task from his draw. I thought Poet’s Society also ran well on Wednesday. He just had to use up a bit of petrol from a wide draw to get over and I wonder if he maybe wasn’t on the best part of the track. He’s fit, well and will give his owners another good day out.
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