Who would come out on top in a repeat of last year's finish? Here's the verdict
Friday: 1.50 Goodwood
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Flat races over two and a half miles and further don't come along too often, so the same horses turn up for the same races year in, year out. That's the case again here as the first four from last year line up again and that could prove the key formline.
Just Hubert (raced off a BHA mark of 88) beat Rochester House (92) by a neck, with Smart Champion (89) three-quarters of a length behind him and The Grand Visir (104) just a short head back in fourth in one of the tightest finishes to this marathon in recent memory.
Twelve months on they renew rivalry with Just Hubert racing off 87 (1lb lower), Rochester House 91 (1lb lower), Smart Champion 83 (6lb lower) and The Grand Visir 104 (no change).
That makes Smart Champion at least 5lb better off with all of them and he was beaten just a length 12 months ago. At this distance, the Racing Post Ratings scale allows 0.9lb per length, so, in theory, if all four ran to the same form as last year, Smart Champion would win by four and a half lengths.
You can make an even stronger case for Smart Champion if you include Saffie Osborne's claim. Osborne has been one of the apprentice finds of the season, riding 22 of her 31 career winners this year, and Smart Champion is another 5lb lower when adding on her allowance.
Just Hubert is also ridden by a star apprentice in Ray Dawson, who is as good as most professionals. He claims 3lb and Just Hubert should confirm places with Rochester House and The Grand Visir.
Four of the last six runnings have gone to improvers and Platform Nineteen has a similar profile to 2019 winner Timoshenko. He had won his last five starts and Platform Nineteen has won five of his last six. He is up 6lb for his last win and will need another career best.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
Platform Nineteen an unexposed contender
While last year’s first four do battle again, in Platform Nineteen they face a stiff challenge from an unexposed stayer who is going from strength to strength.
From humble beginnings Platform Nineteen has developed into a stayer of real potential. He started life in handicaps off a mark of 61 but is now rated 28lb higher.
He missed all of last year with a leg injury but returned from a 648-day absence in style when winning his comeback at Beverley by five and a half lengths.
The handicapper reacted by raising him 6lb and this marks a step into the unknown with regards to the trip, but his trainer Michael Bell does not believe the extra four and a half furlongs will pose a problem.
Bell said: "He made a very satisfactory comeback having had a year off, and prior to missing last year he was extremely progressive.
"He looks in great form at home and his style of racing suggests the trip won't be a problem.
"He wouldn't want extremes of going but hopefully good ground will be ideal over this distance."
What they say
Roger Charlton, trainer of Withhold
He ran very well at Newbury the other day but didn't quite get the run of the race that he needed. He's topweight, so it's a tough ask.
Tom Dascombe, trainer of Rajinsky
We've got to try something different as he keeps knocking at the door and he'll either stay or he won't. He's not getting any respite from the handicapper, which is understandable. He's genuine and honest and couldn't give a damn what the ground is.
Gary Moore, trainer of Kloud Gate
His Flat form wasn't too bad, that's why he's got a mark of 90, but that's going back a long time. He didn't run very well the other day over hurdles, but he seems well at home and I go with an open mind. If he puts his best foot forward he's not without a chance.
Hugo Palmer, trainer of Margaret Dumont
I've walked the track and I think it will be nearly good ground, which should suit her. She just found the ground a little quick at Newbury last time. I think she'll stay but we're taking that on trust.
William Muir, joint-trainer of Just Hubert
He's 1lb lower [than last year]. His best run this year was first time out when it was heavy at Haydock and the ground's going to be fine. We want to see a return to form with him and he's just got to do the job on the racecourse now.
Reporting by Matt Butler
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