Alben can be Stewards' Star
Simon Holt previews the final day at Glorious Goodwood and fancies Alben Star in the feature handicap.
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ALBEN STAR, a horse who has always worked like a superstar on Richard Fahey's gallops, has been transferring some of that prowess to the racecourse this season and could be the one to give the trainer and jockey George Challoner a big sprint handicap double (following Baccarat's Wokingham win) in the 32Red (Stewards') Cup.
A good fourth in that same cavalry charge at Royal Ascot, with several of these runners behind him, the selection may have gone close to winning at the Curragh subsequently but for failing to obtain a clear run and is now 8lb better off with third placed Discussion To Follow for only three-quarters of a length.
All year, from early sorties on the Lingfield all-weather, Alben Star has looked a different horse this time around and this course and distance could be ideal.
- 2pts win Alben Star in 3.50 Goodwood at 12/1 (General) - could be an ideal test for this horse who has got his act together now
- 1pt e.w. Joey's Destiny in 3.50 Goodwood at 33/1 (Coral) - course and distance winner who impressed last time out
- 1pt win Mango Diva in 3.15 Goodwood at 9/2 (General) - gutsy win last time and this assignment looks set to suit
While not weighted to confirm the Irish placings, Discussion To Follow has since won a competitive handicap over five furlongs at Ascot (for which he picks up a 6lb penalty) and is rated a possible Group horse of the future by his connections.
Mike Murphy's charge is one of several progressive sprinters who seem likely to dominate this race, the others being most notably Muthmir and Intrinsic.
Muthmir is another penalised runner following his impressive victory at York last week and his trainer William Haggas has won this twice in recent years with Conquest and last year's returning hero Rex Imperator (seemingly in less good form now).
Meanwhile, there are few better trainers of a sprinter than Robert Cowell and Intrinsic, the winner of both his starts this season is another smart prospect. On the negative side, the four-year-old hasn't been seen since May and both those successes came with plenty of give underfoot. Rain may help his cause.
Another possibility, for each-way purposes, is JOEY'S DESTINY who was a course and distance winner last season and showed further development when quickening well to score at Nottingham last time.
Earlier, the Group One Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes looks weaker than usual though the Aidan O'Brien-trained Venus de Milo sets a fair standard after her recent second (albeit no match for the winner) behind the now absent Thistle Bird at The Curragh.
However, it's possible she is slightly more effective over 12 furlongs and I will take MANGO DIVA to find further improvement after a gutsy Group Two win over nine furlongs at the same Irish venue last month.
Sir Michael Stoute's filly had earlier finished fifth, staying on, behind Thistle Bird over a mile at Epsom and this course and distance should suit her well.