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Lightning Spear out to defend Celebration Mile crown

Lightning Spear: narrowly followed up last year's win in the Celebration Miles
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Lightning Spear and Zonderland, first and second in the Celebration Mile (3.20) last year, renew rivalry, with Qatar Racing's six-year-old holding a considerable advantage this time in terms of race-fitness.

Whereas Zonderland is making his first appearance since going down by a length and three-quarters 12 months ago, Lightning Spear has enjoyed a thoroughly rewarding 2017 campaign with placed efforts in two Group 1s, the Lockinge Stakes and Sussex Stakes.

Trainer David Simcock said: “Lightning Spear is in good order and seems very well. There are some good horses in there so it’s not a gimme by any means, but he does have an obvious chance.”

While Lightning Spear is likely to be sent off a short-priced favourite for the Grosvenor Sport-backed Group 2, it would be no surprise to witness market support for the William Haggas-trained Hathal, back in trip after finishing third in a York Group 2 last month over an extended ten furlongs.

Haggas said: “He’s in great form. I was toying with the idea of sending him to York for the Strensall, but he has a very good pedigree and this Group 2 looked a good opportunity.”

John Gosden is represented by Richard Pankhurst in the £109,400 event and said: “He’s on the comeback trail again after a few niggles and hopefully he should figure in what looks a small but select field.”

The Richard Hannon-trained Oh This Is Us and the Mick Channon's Opal Tiara complete the line-up.

Gosden: Prestige is a nice fit for Verandah

Four of the ten fillies in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes (2.10) line up defending unbeaten records, headed by Verandah, who made a striking impression when coasting home to beat Fille De Reve by two lengths at Kempton this month.

The daughter of Medicean, who holds an entry in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile, looks to have a very bright future, and Gosden said: “She’s a progressive type and won well on her debut at Kempton the other day. As she’s quite tall she may find the undulations at Goodwood a bit of a challenge, but this race is a nice fit for her.”

Peace Trail, reported to “have come out of her Newmarket win well” by Charlie Appleby, Quivery and Santorini Sun are the others with perfect records so far, but don’t discount the more street-wise Ertiyad, who is making her fifth appearance.

“She ran well at Newmarket when upped to seven furlongs for the first time and stays well,” said Haggas.

UAE bids to prove King in March Stakes

With the Roger Varian yard in such explosive form, the eye in the Goodwood Revival March Stakes (3.55) is immediately drawn to Uae King, who bids for a fourth consecutive success.

The Listed race represents a step up in class, but Varian is more than hopeful the son of Frankel can rise to the challenge.

“He's a fast-maturing horse who is strengthening up and improving all the time,” he said.

“We considered various options for him, but it seemed logical to keep him against the three-year-olds stepped up to Listed level and I don’t think he'll be inconvenienced by the drop in trip. He looks an exciting prospect.”

UAE King: steps up in grade in the March Stakes
Gosden is on the black-type trail with Zenon, who “found giving a lot of weight away at Chester last time a bit beyond him”, while Haggas anticipates a bold show from Call To Mind.

“He’s a nice horse,” said Haggas. “The form of his Hamilton third is working out really well and he’s improving.”

Godolphin's Walton Street, unbeaten in two starts at Pontefract and Goodwood, adds spice to an absorbing affair.

“He progressed from his first to second run and has come out of his latest start in good shape,” said Appleby.

“He's a slightly hard horse to assess at home because he's not known for being a work horse. You can’t be any happier with what he's achieved on the track so far.”

Certificate bids for back-to-back wins

Certificate, who landed the £100,000 Grosvenor Sport Handicap (2.45) 12 months ago by a head from Suzi’s Connoisseur as a heavily-backed 7-2 favourite, heads the 19 runners for the prize this year and sports cheekpieces for the first time.

Varian said: “He won this race off a 5lb lower mark last year and we thought we'd chance our arm again with the prize-money being so good.

"We know the course suits him well and he’s in good form. I'd have liked a lower draw [than 12], but he should run well.”

Suzi’s Connoisseur hasn’t fared too well in the draw either, and will start from stall 17, but the low-weighted Fox Trotter, a winner at Sandown last time out, takes the eye from box three in this 7f contest, one of three Goodwood races live on ITV.

Trainer Brian Meehan said: “He's going very well at home and likes Goodwood so off a light weight hopefully he can be competitive.”

Raucous, the mount of Adam Kirby, goes from stall eight, and Haggas said: “He’s run some good races without much luck this season and goes there in very good form.”


Read exclusive previews of Saturday's feature action from 6pm tonight on racingpost.com


 

There are some good horses in there so it’s not a gimme by any means, but he does have an obvious chance
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