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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Four talking points away from the main event at Goodwood

Star Rider bids for back-to-back successes in the Goodwood Handicap
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Rider bids to retain her title in opener

Star Rider bids to become the first horse since Hugs Dancer (2001-02) to register back-to-back successes in the typically competitive Matchbook Betting Exchange Goodwood Handicap (1.50).

The five-year-old mare galloped on relentlessly under Jimmy Fortune to land the prize 12 months ago by two lengths from Percy Veer and, despite being 9lb higher in the weights, trainer Hughie Morrison is hopeful of a bold show.

“It’s a big ask off her higher rating,” he said. “But she goes there in good form and clearly enjoys Goodwood.”

Adam Kirby is on board this time.

Morrison has another string to his bow in Aurora Gray, a wonderfully consistent filly who could show further improvement for another step up in trip.

“She is locally bred and fully deserves a crack at a decent prize,” said Morrison.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, busy preparing his jumping team for the winter, will be on the Sussex Downs to cheer on Arthur McBride.

“Old Arthur couldn’t jump so we put him on the Flat and he’s done very well,” said Twiston-Davies. “He’s won at the course before and everything looks right for him.”

Hills runner won’t Surrender in first-time cheekpieces

Never Surrender looks likely to be one of the outsiders for the Better Odds With Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap (2.25), but it could prove a costly misjudgement to readily dismiss his chance.

The Charlie Hills-trained three-year-old was beaten just over five lengths by Atty Persse into seventh in Royal Ascot’s King George V Stakes, one of the most keenly contested 1m4f handicaps for three-year-olds, and appeared to run out of stamina when stepped up in distance last time.

“I don’t think he stayed a mile and six furlongs at Haydock last time so we’re bringing him back to a mile and a half,” said Hills.

“It was a good effort at Royal Ascot the time before and that form gives him a squeak.”

The application of first-time cheekpieces could also squeeze a bit extra out of the son of High Chaparral.

Can Ickymasho transfer all-weather form to turf?

Ickymasho, winner of three of her last six starts, brings a progressive profile into the EBF Breeders’ Series Fillies’ Handicap (4.45), but the million dollar question is whether she is capable of reproducing her excellent all-weather form on turf.

An honourable third in a Deauville Listed race on Polytrack last time, the five-year-old carries plenty of weight in what looks an ultra-competitive affair.

However, trainer Jonathan Portman couldn’t be happier with the mare’s wellbeing and said: “She's in great form. She does have better form on the all-weather so the sticky ground is a bit of a concern.

“However, it’s a nice race to go for and hopefully she’ll do well. She has given her owners such a lot of fun.”

Hannon aims for Glory in concluding handicap

Glorious Goodwood has proved one of the happiest hunting grounds for the Hannon stable over several decades.

Magic City, backed down to 5-1 favourite, landed a gamble in the 7f Cantor Fitzgerald Handicap (5.50) in 2013, and it would be no surprise to see War Glory go close this year.

The importance of a low draw in big-field handicaps over this trip at Goodwood cannot be overestimated, and War Glory, unlike many who will be to the fore in the market, has fared well in being allocated stall four.

Hannon is upbeat about the four-year-old’s prospects.

“He ran very well at Newmarket last time, but they all came up the wrong side for him,” he said.

“He's very genuine and, if he's on-song, should have no trouble running another big race. He's starting to get the hang of things on the turf, having had very strong all-weather form previously.”

It’s a big ask off her higher rating, but she goes there in good form and clearly enjoys Goodwood
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