Mike Cattermole column: Glorious Goodwood reaction

Dark Vision swoops to win the Qatar Vintage Stakes
Dark Vision swoops to win the Qatar Vintage Stakes

Mike Cattermole praises Mark Johnston's purchase of Dark Vision while looking ahead to Lightning Spear standing at stud.

DARK VISION HAS SUCH A BRIGHT FUTURE

Dark Vision’s maintaining of his unbeaten record in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last Tuesday was in some ways the most exciting performance of the week.

In a race in which it all went wrong for the son of Dream Ahead, being hampered early on and shuffled to the back and then being denied a run until very late, the way he quickened up and cut down his rivals, when pulled wide, was the performance of a tip-top colt.

No wonder Mark Johnston has been watching the video time after time since!

Johnston must feel pretty good already about Dark Vision who he picked up for a mere 15,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Book 2 Sale last October. Yes, not seven, not six, but a five-figure price. You don’t have to pay a fortune. I wonder what his value is now? I bet the phone has been hot at Kingsley House!

Dark Vision might be the big breakthrough horse for Dream Ahead who, remember, was officially rated the equal of Frankel as a two-year-old. He stands in France these days at just 12,000 EUROS.

Dark Vision is widely available at 16-1 for the 2,000 Guineas and is due to run next in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh, also over seven furlongs.

A mile will be no problem to him eventually as there is a lot of stamina on the dam’s side of the family.

Johnston has always maintained that Shamardal is the best colt he has trained to date, although he lost him to Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor who subsequently won the French Guineas and Derby with him.

I wonder if he will be changing his mind come next May?

DEE EX BEE – CRYING OUT FOR CUT?

The Johnston-trained Dee Ex Bee still has the St Leger in his sights, in spite of another setback at Goodwood in the Gordon Stakes when Cross Counter left him standing.

The Derby runner-up has been beaten soundly three times since his heroic efforts at Epsom and on this occasion, it is likely that fast surface was to blame as he was never really travelling at any stage.

He hasn’t run that badly since chasing home Masar but he has not built on it. Connections clearly believe that he is genuine enough or they would have gone for some headgear last week.

Perhaps we will see a different horse when the rains return. That said, the Leger is now only five weeks away. Surely this tiresome heatwave won’t still be around by then?

Note that Sky Bet still believe in him for the final Classic of the season – they have him at just 8/1 whereas he is freely available at double that price with other firms.

LIGHTNING SPEAR A PROPER STALLION IN THE MAKING, UNLIKE BATTAASH!

So many horses are packed off to stud with so much to prove and yet still stand for optimistic covering fees.

When Lightning Spear retires, which I am guessing he will at the end of the season now that he is a Group 1 winner, he will have fully earned the right to pass on his genes in the covering barns.

As tough and consistent as they come, the son of Pivotal has been racing for six seasons and, as well reported last week, his thoroughly deserved win in the Sussex Stakes was his 16th try at a Group 1. Mind you, he has also been placed in six others on ground varying from good to firm to soft.

Sound as a pound and with handsome looks too, who wouldn’t want to use Lightning Spear next year?

Sadly, or not so sadly depending on which way you look at it, being a gelding, Battaash will just have to carry on racing. Yippee!

Some have asked why he was cut at the end of his two-year-old campaign but he was giving all the signs of going the wrong way at the time - “a fruitcake” in the words of one man close to the Sheikh Hamdan team.

Let’s hope he keeps sound for a long time because his outstanding blitz of speed in the King George Stakes was very special. Charlie Hills had him back to his sublime best and all roads now lead to York for the Nunthorpe where he has a point to prove after boiling over last year.

I find when horses like Battaash are around, the preliminaries are just as tense as the race itself. He is pure box office, he really is.

Let’s spare a thought for Take Cover, who excelled himself at the age of 11 in going down by four lengths in second place. His form figures in the King George now read 12142.

Meanwhile, the team at Goodwood must have been delighted to see Battaash defend his title in this £300,000 dash as it surely increases the chances of it being promoted to Group 1 status and thus join the Sussex and Nassau Stakes at the top table.

This was a Group 1 in all but name last week and don’t forget that Battaash was carrying a 3lb penalty, too.

Lightning Spear sweeps clear in the Sussex
Lightning Spear sweeps clear in the Sussex

NO SHOW AT NEWTON ABBOT

I was stunned when, on a supposed day off on Monday, I turned to my phone mid-afternoon to find a number of missed calls, enough to suggest that something was not right.

Apparently, I should have been at Newton Abbot in the commentary box. Being over 200 miles away from home, it was a proper lost cause and I was shocked. I simply had not entered it in my diary.

It’s the first time I have missed a gig like that in the 25 years that I have been calling the horses and it was embarrassing, to say the least. I don’t need to give details about where the confusion arose on my part, it was just a good old-fashioned mess-up.

To be fair, Pat Masterson, the chief executive at the racecourse, was remarkably sympathetic, as indeed was James Gray, commercial director at Racetech. I appreciated that.

How very fortunate that Guy Lewis, the former jump jockey, was present on judging duty. Guy had done a spot of broadcasting in a previous life so he stepped up and, having heard some of his calls subsequently, did a magnificent job.

Who knows, perhaps he might get the chance to do some more on a regular basis?

I certainly hope so.

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