Doom Bar Celebration Mile (Group2) Goodwood Saturday – There have been thirty eight renewals of the Celebration Mile since it’s elevation to Group2 status in 1977 and the classic generation, with 23 wins have definitely had the best of the argument. Sir Michael Stoute has trained the winner an impressive eight times, and on five of those occasions it was a 3yo who gained the honours, so his representative this year, Thikriyaat has to be of interest.
A 3yo gelded son of Azamour he has won four of his five races commencing with an All Weather victory over a mile on his sole 2yo appearance. Dropped back to seven furlongs for his reappearance at Newmarket in April, he won gamely from Tabaarak, who won next time out. Stepped up to Cl1 level for his next race, (7f Newmarket Gd-Fm May 14) he won again in solid workmanlike fashion. In his next contest he was sent off an 8/1 shot in the highly competitive Jersey Stakes (7f Sft) at the Royal Meeting. Despite a difficult passage he finished a highly commendable second, (beaten 2 1/2L) to the subsequent Deauville Group1 winner, and the close third to the Gurkha in the Group1 Sussex Stakes, Ribchester. Stepped back up to a mile over Saturday’s course and distance, (Gd-Fm) twenty nine days ago, he won again in his hallmark, tough, workmanlike style, and this doughty competitor, who seems to handle most conditions, looks the type who will be hard to beat at the weekend.
Clive Cox won this last year with a progressive 3yo, Kodi Bear, and is trying for a repeat with a similar type in Zonderland. This son of Dutch Art won a listed race at Sandown, (1m Gd-Fm) in May, and was then pitched in at the deep end when asked to tackle Group1 company in the Prix Jean-Prat at Chantilly six weeks later. He finished an abysmal eighth of nine, out the back, but showed he was back on track next time, when winning a Salisbury Group3 (1m Gd-Fm). The form doesn’t amount to a great deal but it does show the Cox contender is going the right way and suggests the Chantilly race can be ignored.
Richard Hannon’s admirable 5yo Toormore’s score is two wins and a place from four Goodwood appearances, and he put up yet another fine course performance last time, when finishing fourth to The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes thirty one days ago. Both his course wins have been over 7f, but having won a Group2 contest over Sandowns stiff mile there are no stamina doubts. One of the leading two year olds of his generation, and a winner of the Group1 National Stakes at the Curragh, Toormore is still an entire, and connections must entertain hopes of this son of Arakan joining the stallion ranks when he eventually retires from the track. It will come as no surprise to see him involved at the finish so long as “firm” doesn’t appear in the going description, as he hasn’t won on ground faster than good.
Another contender at the weekend who would prefer good or softer ground is the William Haggas trained 4yo colt Hathal. Bought at the “Breeze-Ups”for the hefty sum of 320,000gns, he has yet to justify his mega price tag, but did show signs in his last two runs, that suggest it might be in the right ballpark. He went down to My Dream Boat by 2 1/2L in a 1 mile York handicap (Aug 21 2015) when giving the winner 7lbs, but the subsequent career of the victor has shown what a good performance that was, as My Dream Boat is now rated fully 30lbs higher. Hathal went on to take a Newbury listed race four weeks later (Sep 18 2015 7f Sft) but has been off the course since. It is a big ask to expect the Haggas horse to win as competitive race as this after a break of 344 days but his talented trainer is a past master at producing them at their best after a long absence, and it will not be a great surprise to see Hathal repay another slice of that large purchase price.
Having won the Group3 Diomed Stakes in June 2015, the Group2 Summer Mile the following month and finished a close second to Solow in the Group1 Sussex stakes a few weeks later, the future looked bright indeed for Peter Chappell-Hyam’s now 5yo, Arod. However in his next five races the wheels seem to have come off, and apart from a respectable display on his reappearance, the rest has been very disappointing. However the stable has been going through a prolonged period of underperformance which has to end sometime, and they obviously haven’t given up on their talented son of Teofilo. Certainly if this 5yo entire could bounce back and repeat his fine performance in last years Sussex Stakes he would be a danger to all.
E.W. : Toormore