Goodwood as glorious as ever with Stradivarius bidding to play a familiar tune
In a nutshell
Five days of top-quality racing set against one of the most magnificent backdrops in racing begin on Tuesday.
The branding says it is the Qatar Goodwood Festival, but to racing fans it will always be Glorious Goodwood.
A long week starts with a long race, as the Group 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup takes centre stage with Stradivarius, conqueror of Big Orange 12 months ago, attempting to match his old rival by becoming a dual winner of the prestigious staying event.
He also bids to complete a double not achieved since Yeats in 2008 by winning the Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup in the same season.
It is far from a one-race card with strong support from shoulder events like the Group 2 prizes, the Vintage and Lennox Stakes.
Former winners include Galileo Gold, Highland Reel, Toormore and Olympic Glory while last year Expert Eye, due to run in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes, produced one of the most explosive performances of the week with a stunning win in the Vintage Stakes.
The 7f Lennox Stakes offers plucky underdog Tip Two Win, the surprise 2,000 Guineas runner-up from the stable of Roger Teal, a chance to bag the Group victory his placed performances have merited.
Don't forget Galway, already a day old, and a longer marathon than Goodwood week. There is another seven-race card, of two jumps and five Flat events, which gets under way five minutes after Goodwood ends.
There are four other meetings at Yarmouth, Beverley, Worcester and Perth. It's no average Tuesday.
The secret's out
There can have been few novice races working out as well as the one contested at Newbury in June won by the Martyn Meade-trained Confiding.
Six of the seven who finished immediately behind the colt won next time out and two others finished second, so there are solid foundations underpinning Confiding's pitching straight into the Group 2 Qatar Vintage Stakes on his own second start.
He will be one of the most important rides so far in the career of 20-year-old Callum Shepherd, who joined the professional ranks only in the spring after riding out his claim.
"I've ridden in a Group 2, but not on one with a realistic chance, so this is a big day," said Shepherd. "I'm really looking forward to riding Confiding. It's really good that the Meades have backed me and were happy for me to keep the ride on this big stage, which is fantastic.
"Confiding is a really exciting horse and hopefully he can build on what was a very good debut."
Moore still the man
Ryan Moore is favourite to win his third top jockey award in a row at the Qatar Goodwood Festival, despite some lingering concerns over the form of Aidan O'Brien's string.
O'Brien's number-one rider is evens with Coral to scoop the award, having partnered five winners at the meeting last year.
Moore does not have an obvious banker this year, with Sir Michael Stoute's Mirage Dancer in the Glorious Stakes the shortest-priced Group-race ride he is booked for.
James Doyle, fresh from his King George triumph on Poet's Word, is next in the market at 7-2.
Doyle can look forward to partnering Dutch Connection in the Lennox Stakes, Queen Of Bermuda in the Molecomb and his big ride on supplemented Sussex Stakes contender Expert Eye.
Andrea Atzeni is the 4-1 with bet365, but as short as 11-4 elsewhere. He has been the main benefactor of Frankie Dettori's six-day ban and will partner St James' Palace Stakes winner Without Parole for the first time in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes and be reunited with Stradivarius in Tuesday's Goodwood Cup, having won the Group 1 on the Sea The Stars colt last year.
Mark Johnston is well known for targeting Glorious Goodwood and he shares favouritism in the top trainer market at 7-4 with John Gosden, who has a particularly strong hand in the first two Group 1s of the meeting.
With concerns about the wellbeing of some of his string after the high-profile disappointments of Magic Wand and Goddess, Aidan O'Brien is perhaps not as short as he might usually be in the market at 5-1 with bet365.
New name above the door
Seamus Buckley hung up his panama after 23 years last year, passing responsibility for the track's husbandry to Ed Arkell, who takes overall charge of his first Glorious Goodwood.
Arkell joined full-time from Arena Racing Company in 2017 but had spent ten years shadowing Buckley at Goodwood.
"I'm very much looking forward to it," said Arkell. "It seems to have taken a long time to come round. It's been a challenging lead-up.
"I've helped Seamus for the last ten years and it's nice now to be the one with the name on the door."
Stay on right side of Pettochside
Goodwood regular Pettochside contests the Chelsea Barracks Handicap (4.45), in which a victory would earn him the penalty that would guarantee him a start in the Unibet Stewards' Cup field.
The nine-year-old has run 15 times at the track, winning five, finishing second in four and being third twice, and since turning nine this year has found the form of his life.
Under trainer John Bridger he has risen from a handicap rating of 67 to 95 and is 11lb higher than when finishing sixth in Tuesday's race and 11th in the Stewards' Cup consolation last year.
Will a star be born at Ballybrit?
Galway has become increasingly synonymous with a better class of horse and Tuesday's card is a case in point.
Two years ago, having come via James Bethell, Luca Cumani, Tramore and Killarney, Penhill landed the opening novices' hurdle. He went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival for a second time when landing the Stayers' Hurdle last March and, in Exchange Rate and Pakora, Willie Mullins this time relies on two contenders with similarly modest but progressive profiles.
Likewise, in 2014 the 7f fillies' maiden (6.25) gave us Classic heroine and triple Group 1-winning Legatissimo, while subsequent two-time Group 1 winner Hydrangea was denied by Eziyra in 2016.
Hydrangea's full-sister Hermosa is one of two Aidan O'Brien-trained runners now, the other being Enticed, a sister to the Irish Derby and St Leger victor Capri.
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