Mike Cattermole reflects on last week's Glorious Goodwood and hails the efforts of Mark Johnston and P J McDonald.
TOO DARN HOT DIDN'T BLOW QUITE AS HOT AS WE'D ALL HOPED
No sooner had he rediscovered his mojo, then Too Darn Hot’s career was over after he sustained a hairline fracture to a hind leg while exacting revenge over Circus Maximus in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last week.
Too Darn Hot didn’t really get the rub of the green this summer, being ruled out of the 2,000 Guineas following a setback and then playing catch up after that, which resulted in defeats that might have been avoided in both the Dante Stakes and Irish 2,000 Guineas.
But for all of John Gosden’s regrets, the master trainer can give himself a pat on the back for getting the champion two-year-old back to his best to notch up Group One wins in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville before his last Goodwood triumph.
When winning all of his starts at two, the sky had looked the limit for Too Darn Hot who seemed to have everything and was shaping as though a Sea The Stars-type season was on the cards at three. He showed amazing speed, after all, but there was the promise from his pedigree that middle distances were within reach, too.
But it didn’t quite pan out that way for Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber’s colt. That said, it was super fun watching Too Darn Hot race. He was a very good racehorse, perhaps not quite a great one but certainly one of distinction, who was very genuine.
But they come and go, don’t they, and I have to say that this year’s top two-year-old, Pinatubo, now unbeaten in four, looks every bit as exciting.
CALYX WILL ALSO BE MISSED
It was a double blow for John Gosden to see Calyx also being retired to stud in the same week after failing to recover from an injury sustained at Haydock in May.
The son of Kingman promised so much after beating Advertise in the Coventry Stakes at two and while the runner-up’s stock continues to rise with another Group One secured at Deauville last weekend, so too will Calyx's. The marketing men will make sure of that.
The most intriguing thing is that Calyx has been retired to Coolmore who were clearly very keen to get a slice of Kingman, perhaps the most upwardly mobile stallion out there.
But Juddmonte, who bred him, will also retain an interest so he is going to get every chance to succeed as a stallion.
Of course, before the season began, 50% of another promising son of Kingman, Persian King, had been snapped up by Godolphin and that investment was soon rewarded with a win in the French 2,000 Guineas.
Gosden, at least, has another son of his former star miler to make plans with. King Of Comedy, owned and bred by Lady Bamford, is entered in the Juddmonte International at York.
STRADIVARIUS IS SO SPECIAL
Becoming the first to win three Goodwood Cups in succession is another reason to believe that in Stradivarius, we are watching one of the modern staying greats.
Remember, he beat a Derby runner-up and Melbourne Cup winner last week
He is now unbeaten in his last two seasons and is as genuine and consistent as you can get. A stayer with a turn of foot is always a big draw for me and when this five-year-old runs, it provides a real sense of occasion.
Once again, he has the £1m Weatherbys Hamilton bonus in his sights, which will be his if he takes the Lonsdale Cup again at York later this month - as he is expected to do so. Apart from the sponsors, perhaps, who would not want him to succeed?
He reminds me of another great stayer in Ardross who had gears to burn with brilliant staying power. Like him, Stradivarius would be a big player in an Arc but with the Gosden team fully focused on making history with Enable in October, he may not be allowed the chance this time.
Lester Piggott always regretted the ride he gave Ardross in the 1982 Arc when the pair came up just short and Order Of St George, another outstanding stayer, ran creditably when third and fourth in the Arc in 2016 and 2017.
If owner/breeder Bjorn Neilsen keeps Stradivarius in training as a six-year-old, maybe they should mix it up a little and work backwards from the Arc. It would be brilliant to see him have a go.
ENABLE/CRYSTAL OCEAN WAS NOT BETTER THAN GRUNDY/BUSTINO
This year’s King George was a belter, no doubt, and having watched it again a few times since, Enable was always holding Crystal Ocean in the last 50 yards or so. The brilliant mare may have won with a bit up her sleeve.
Unlike the race 12 months ago when Crystal Ocean also came off second best by a neck against Poets Word in another desperate scrap, this race really captured the imagination, with many describing it as the best race they had seen and some even saying that it eclipsed the “Race Of the Century” in 1975 when Grundy beat Bustino.
I am not sure about that. The Grundy/Bustino race was a one–off when not one, but two pacemakers (Kinglet and Highest) did all they could to draw the sting out of that year’s dual Derby winner.
The plan worked a treat but of course it still didn’t quite come off which is what made it such a spectacle as the two horses gave their all, smashing the track record by well over two seconds. Back in third, and five lengths behind, was the brilliant mare Dahlia who had won the two previous runnings of the race and who also broke the track record!
But hey, I am not going to dig a trench and stand my ground on this. Let’s just agree that they were both brilliant horse races, run in different eras.
Then it was Pat Eddery and Joe Mercer, this time Frankie and James Doyle and no doubt they will look back on it as time passes with as much passion and pride as the other two did.
I was never really sure about the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood ever since a nasty fall sustained by Nettie Mason, wife of Pink Floyd drummer Nick, in the race a few years ago. I thought that was a warning and that it would be the end of it.
I am glad I got that wrong as last week’s incredible win from Khadijah Mellah, an 18-year-old hijab-wearing Muslim woman from Peckham who had never sat on a racehorse until April, was the stuff of fairytales.
You couldn’t make up a script like that. Good luck to her.
MARK JOHNSTON SO GOOD, AND NOT JUST AT GOODWOOD - AND WELL DONE PJ!
Danny Tudhope is not the only northern-based rider to attract the plaudits this season and it was great to see PJ McDonald being crowned leading jockey for the first time at Goodwood last week.
It is sometimes forgotten that, like Jim Crowley and Graham Lee, PJ was a jump jockey once and even won the Scottish Grand National in 2007. His partnerships with such as Laurens, Havana Grey and Invincible Army show that he belongs at the top.
Meanwhile, Mark Johnston, who won the leading trainer award for the umpteenth time on the Downs last week, is simply incredible.
Britain's winning-most trainer shows no signs of letting up and is steaming along towards yet another double century, a feat he has achieved eight times in the past ten years.
The Scot set a personal best of 226 last season. He is set to comfortably beat that this year.
FINALLY, THE STEWARDS' CUP WILL ALWAYS BE THE STEWARDS' CUP
These days, some sponsors get a little annoyed when their backing of a particular race doesn’t get the acknowledgement they see fit. I can understand that. But please don’t take the mickey.
For example, a few years ago, 32Red sponsored the Stewards’ Cup and lost the Stewards’ Cup bit in the race title. 32Red had previous as they had also done that with the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket a few years ago and called it the 32Red Trophy.
Sorry, but sponsors should not be allowed to hijack historic races and rename them. By doing this they are sticking two fingers up at the heritage of the sport. Races build up history and authenticity after centuries of being in existence and are recognised as being part of the fabric of the traditional racing calendar.
Meanwhile, yes, let’s give the sponsors a mention when we can. That’s a must, but ultimately a Stewards' Cup will always be a Stewards’ Cup.