Yes, dear readers, just when we thought we had witnessed the race of the season with Enable‘s gutsy victory at Ascot, along comes another potential humdinger in the shape of the Qatar Goodwood Cup Stakes at 3.35, which is the highlight of day 1 of the Glorious Festival.

Stradivarius is 4-6 favourite in his quest for a three-peat in this race and John Gosden‘s 5-y-o is taken on again by the horses that followed him home in the Ascot Gold Cup 6 weeks ago, namely Dee Ex Bee and Cross Counter.

While there is no obvious reason why Dee Ex Bee should reverse the Ascot form, there are grounds for thinking that Cross Counter will be the one to bustle up the fav.

Winner of the Melbourne Cup as a 3-y-o, Charlie Appleby‘s charge added the Dubai Gold Cup to its portfolio in March this year and was having the first run since when crossing swords with ‘Strad’ at Ascot. James Doyle came in for a bit of stick for his ride that day, seemingly giving his mount a lot to do and not giving it a hard time when he couldn’t win, his reasoning being that the 2m4f trip was an unknown and the horse needed the run.

Neither of those factors apply today and, with less than two lengths to make up we venture a win bet at a sporting 3-1.

The meeting starts at 1.50 with the usual impossible handicap, this year called the Unibet Handicap, which has a field of 17, with Setting Sail installed as the 4-1 favourite. This progressive 4-y-o has an obvious chance, but we feel that the latest 4lb rise for being beaten may prove a burden too much and we will put up three against it.

Soto Sizzler is the first port of call, a smooth travelling hold-up jobbie, which has been in tremendous form this season and has a win and a second from two runs on this track. Drops back in trip, but the very hungry Oisin Murphy will be alive to that. 15-2 are the odds of reward.

First Sitting, from a yard who’s stable cat completed a hat-trick last week, is our second pick. Two from three over this CD, this consistent 8-y-o has dropped to a very tempting handicap mark and has Gerald Mosse doing the steering. Take the 12-1 each way.

Last but hopefully not least and continuing our theory about unfashionable yards and overpricing, we think Lunar Jet will outrun the almost derisory 25-1 on offer, so back it, please.

The Qatar Vintage Stakes at 2.25 sees the next step in the almost vertical progress of our good friend Pinatubo, who moves up from Listed class to Group 2 and, hopefully, will again do the biz under Popeye. At 11-8 we won’t get rich but the ‘follow until beaten’ rule applies and we recommend a win bet.

If there is to be a turn-up in this race it might come in the shape of Positive, trained by Clive Cox and prudence (whoever she is) dictates a small saver on this one.

The Group 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes at 3.00 completes the televised coverage and Hey Gaman looks a worthy, and backable, favourite at 3-1. Still improving and unlucky to be beaten in a Curragh Group 2 last time out, he should take this under the Mad Italian and we suggest a win bet.

The only 3-y-o representative, Space Traveller, is also worth an each way punt, having touched off Space Blues at Royal Ascot, in a race that’s working out really well, so we’ll have this one each way too, at 8-1.

My trusty satellite forecasts a veritable and biblical downpour at around midday, in which case, all bets are off. (Just kidding, folks)


Cross Counter 3.35 Goodwood 4pts win @ 3-1

Soto Sizzler 1.50 Goodwood 1pt e/w @ 15-2 (5 places)

First Sitting 1.50 Goodwood 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (5 places)

Lunar Jet 1.50 Goodwood 1pt e/w @ 25-1 (5 places)

Pinatubo 2.25 Goodwood 4pts win @ 11-8

Positive 2.25 Goodwood 0.5pts e/w @ 12-1 (2 places)

Hey Gaman 3.00 Goodwood 2pts win @ 3-1

Space Traveller 3.00 Goodwood 1pt e/w @ 8-1

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