Thursday, 22nd July 2021
Glorious Goodwood starts on Tuesday – five days of top-class Pattern and handicap racing in West Sussex….
This column is engaged in doing the groundwork…. travelling the hard yards…. preparing the seedbed….
The intention is to bring you a treasure trove of clues, pointers, angles, intelligence, and insights that deliver an edge in the betting markets for the big handicaps run at the meeting….
Earlier this week we took a look at the historic record in search of pointers for the Steward’s Cup. If you missed that go here….
We also took a look at Mark Johnston – the trainer with the most winners in Glorious Goodwood handicaps in recent times. He’s not easy to make sense of – he sends lots of qualifying runners – but there are factors at work you should be aware of. Catch up here….
Yesterday – among other things – I had a few words to say about the effects of the draw on the round course at Goodwood….
The stall you start in isn’t the only advantage you can get in big-field handicaps run around those Goodwood turns. If you’re a horse, the man (or lady) they put on your back has a big part to play….
In big-field races at Goodwood you can be sure that trouble in running will play its part in multiple races across the week – especially in the big-field races run around the turns. Off the final bend, everything wants to be on the far side and things get tight for room....
Horses can find themselves trapped in against the rail or stuck behind a wall of horses and with no room to manoeuvre or proceed. Interference is commonplace. So too argy-bargy. Sometimes horses need to be street fighters. It can be chaotic. And races are frequently won or lost on the strength of it....
Luck plays a part, of course. You can find yourself in the right place at the right time. Or in the wrong place. But skill surely plays a bigger part? That’s a reasonable assumption. Horses don’t go to post alone. They have riders – whose role it is to assist the horse and to place him to best effect in the race....
Given the nature of big-field races around the Goodwood bend, it is reasonable to expect some riders will deal more effectively with the challenge than others....
Getting horses nicely positioned; having a coherent plan; knowing where to be and when best to get there; understanding how and when trouble might occur; knowing how to stay out of it….
All these tricks and tactics come with experience. And you’d expect that ‘local knowledge’ to express itself in the overall performance record....
Experience…. street smarts…. all the tricks…. they certainly showed up in the record of Richard Hughes. Nobody rode Goodwood with quite the same aplomb as Hughes – and his record serves as a kind of benchmark….
I don’t have the record of all his Goodwood rides – but his record in races of 12+ runners at C4 or better (handicap or non-handicap) on the round course since the beginning of 2009 is as follows….
It gives us a baseline against which we can compare and contrast….
Our focus turns now to the riders likely to be getting qualifying rides next week – and their record to date within the same parameters….
The table below delivers the skinny….
I’ve ordered the table on total place strike rates achieved. It’s pretty consistent stuff. Nobody stands out as a dominant force – that’s what we’d expect in handicap riding….
But the 30%+ boys are the best of the bunch based on the numbers. You can consider their presence in the saddle of a handicapper around the turns next week as a distinct ‘positive’....
Of course, these men need to be on the right horse. That’s a given. It all boils down to the horse in the end. That’s worth remembering….
A jockey can ride the Goodwood bends like his horse is on a rail, but the horse has to be good enough, well-handicapped enough and operating in suitable conditions if it is going to produce its best….
A couple of features worth noting at this point are that Tom Marquand has produced 4 of his qualifying winners over the last 12-month period and that Harry Bentley is building a solid record – probably off the market radar. He rides Goodwood a lot better than most punters would likely give him credit for….
Perhaps the absolute true test of a rider around the Goodwood bends in big field races is how he handles a wide draw….
Our benchmark, Richard Hughes performed as follows from qualifying rides that started in a double-figure stall….
The table below highlights the best of the performance figures recorded in qualifying races by riders likely to be involved next week….
Just a couple of quick points based on these figures….
Perhaps Ryan Moore needs it all his own way around the bends. He’s much better from a low draw….
Where the others are concerned, a wide draw doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Fanning, Kirby, Dettori, Buick and Atzeni do it from all over the track….
You could make the case that a wide draw might even help them. Each rider is either just as good from out wide as he is from lower in the draw – or he is better….
Perhaps for that specific group of jockeys being out wide offers a more constructive range of in-race options. Perhaps they prosper when out of the inside-line skirmishing….
Whatever – the numbers don’t lie. A wide stall is not an impediment to these guys next week – and the market might not be aware of that. It’s another layer of intelligence to factor into your thinking….
That’s all from me for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with my take on the weekend action at Ascot and York. Meanwhile….
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Until tomorrow. Stay tuned.