Our long-range expert looks ahead to the 2022 Qatar Goodwood Festival and recommends two early bets at double-figure prices.
1pt e.w. Lilac Road in the Nassau Stakes at 12/1 (General)
1pt e.w. First Folio in the Stewards’ Cup at 16/1 (Paddy Power 1/5 1,2,3,4,5)
Eight fantastic races have already been priced up ahead of the Qatar Goodwood Festival at the end of the month and while the meeting’s main Group One – the Sussex Stakes – looks a bit of a closed shop, barring accident when it comes to odds-on favourite Baaeed, there are a couple of attractive bets to be had elsewhere.
The first comes in the 10-furlong Qatar Nassau Stakes, a Group One sure to cut up quite considerably from the 21 fillies and mares entered at this point in time.
We already know connections of Pretty Polly Stakes winner and general 5/1 second-favourite La Petite Coco are leaning towards a move up to a mile and a half in the Yorkshire Oaks instead, while Inspiral (still third-favourite) obviously has a huge question mark hanging over her after a relatively lifeless run in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.
Plans around Aidan O’Brien’s more interesting contenders Tuesday, Concert Hall and History remain up in the air with that trio holding a number of entries over various distances in the coming weeks, while the likes of Dreamloper could drop back in distance or even hold on until something like the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
This could all leave Prix de Diane winner Nashwa an extremely short price on the day, but she’s already no bigger than 6/4 (one firm, 5/4 elsewhere) and it looks to set things up really nicely for an early each-way interest.
There’s a chance Kevin Ryan's 33/1 shot Fonteyn is being a little disrespected in the market, having beaten subsequent Coral Distaff winner Grande Dame on her first venture out of maiden company in a Listed race at York’s Dante Festival, but this is another level altogether and I like the look of one of William Haggas’ entries.
Haggas has three to choose from, the second and fifth from the Pretty Polly – namely My Astra and Purplepay – plus LILAC ROAD.
My Astra is the shortest of the three but the value lies with stablemate Lilac Road, who has a great attitude and produced a career-best effort to win the Group Two Middleton Stakes at York when last seen.
She’d previously looked a little rusty on her seasonal debut at Newmarket, beaten two lengths by Dreamloper in the nine-furlong Dahlia Stakes, but she has gone well when fresh in the past so I don’t mind the fact she’s missed Royal Ascot (and a possible shot at the Lancashire Oaks).
She’d have hated the ground at Haydock anyway, so freshening her up after two quick runs back-to-back in May before coming back to Goodwood (close third here in a Listed race last spring) makes a lot of sense, not least as Haggas let slip it’s owner Julia Aisbitt’s birthday on July 28 – the day of the Nassau.
Lilac Road has to take another leap up the ladder to successfully give 9lb away to a Classic-winning three-year-old in Nashwa, but Deirdre and Lady Bowthorpe have shown it can be done in recent seasons and the progressive, hard-as-nails Lilac Road looks made of the right stuff to give it a very good shot.
I'm sure we’ll be on the right side of her at 12s if a few of the other entries fall away as expected over the next couple of weeks.
The other race I’m happy to have an each-way interest in this far out is the Coral Stewards’ Cup as it could be worth backing FIRST FOLIO ahead of a possible outing in Friday’s Scottish Stewards’ Cup at Hamilton.
The Michael Dods-trained Commanche Falls did the very same double just last season and the Scottish version hasn’t been a bad pointer at all down the years. 2016 Hamilton hero Orion’s Bow found just one too good when venturing down south soon after, 2020 winner Meraas finished sixth at 11/2 in the big one, and 2018 winner George Bowen finished fifth as an 11/1 shot at the Glorious meeting.
We could be looking at another really strong renewal at the five-day stage with Wokingham runner-up Popmaster and 2021 Stewards’ Cup second Gulliver also among the Hamilton entries, but James Ferguson’s horse makes most appeal.
First Folio beat Blackrod in the valuable three-year-old sprint handicap at York last summer and was only a 6/1 chance going into the Stewards’ Cup consolation race (Stewards’ Sprint Handicap), but the heavens opened and connections put his disappointing run down to the soft (Timeform called it heavy) ground.
He still ended last year with some fine efforts in defeat back on better ground and has continued that trend into the current campaign, too, catching the eye at Newmarket and again when pitched into a Listed race won by Run To Freedom at Windsor in mid-May.
His subsequent Wokingham sixth looked no more than solid on the day, but the run surely wants marking up quite a lot given that he made his bid more towards the centre of the track, whereas the first five all ended nearer to the stands’ side – the first four markedly so (replay below).
Watch Race Replay
Unlimited race replays of all UK & Irish racing
Access to exclusive features all for FREE - No monthly subscription fee
Log in with your existing Sporting Life, Sky Bet, or Sky Games account. If you don't have any of those, it's completely FREE to register!
First Folio was sticking to the task really well, ultimately beaten just four lengths by Rohaan, yet the handicapper has dropped him a pound which looks quite interesting.
With a maximum field size of 28, he’s currently just inside the cut-off as number 27 so perhaps the Hamilton entry was purely precautionary, but it does at least suggest connections are happy enough to stick with six furlongs rather than return to seven for Ascot’s International Stakes the weekend before Goodwood, and it’s hard to argue he doesn’t deserve the chance to atone for what happened weather-wise at Goodwood 12 months ago.
Published at 1530 BST on 10/07/22
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.