Steve Hughes previews two interesting cards in Britain on Sunday with a selection from each meeting at Goodwood and Perth.
After the drama of Derby Day it is back down to earth for a quieter Sunday’s entertainment, but nevertheless there are some decent contests at both British meetings to look forward to. Perth stages one of its annual highlights, the Perth Gold Cup, a contest which takes on a completely different flavour after heavy rain yesterday, to what it looked like at declaration time. Meanwhile some old favourites take each other on in a veterans sprint at Goodwood. It was a somewhat frustrating day at Epsom yesterday with three seconds and a non-runner, but Kingston Hill did at least land the each-way place money at 10/1 (advised).
3.30 Goodwood: Secret Millionaire
We have seen veterans chases for a few seasons now to cater for those horses who have provided so much pleasure over the years a chance to compete against each other without having to fight off younger, less exposed rivals. Now veterans sprints are happily becoming more prevalent on the flat and one such horse who can benefit is Secret Millionaire at Goodwood today.
Tony Carroll is the 7yo’s third trainer and has already prepared the gelding for three wins on the All Weather in the eighteen months or so he has had him in his care. However he does have winning form on turf too, and raced for Carroll on grass for only the second time at Brighton last time out when finishing a fine second to Ladweb. That horse has since gone on to land a hat-trick, and with this race restricted to 6yo or above, there will be no similar unexposed rival in the line up.
A stalking horse that likes to sit just off the pace, the race here should be run to suit and all his winning form has come on sharp 5f tracks, so although this will be his first visit to Goodwood, this is a track that should suit, especially as he did so well at Brighton, a similar downland track last time. He is preferred to likely favourite Slip Sliding Away who is the class act in the field, but drops to 5f for only the second time in his career and with the ground drying up could just lack the pace for this.
4.25 Perth: Firebird Flyer
When declarations for this race were announced on Friday morning with the ground riding good at Perth at the time, Firebird Flyer is not a horse I would have seriously considered as 3m is a bare minimum test for him these days, especially on fast ground.
However the deluge of rain that fell on Perth yesterday means we are now racing on soft, heavy in places going and the selection is the only one certain to be suited by the change in conditions.
His form this spring on similar ground is more than good enough for a race at this level. After a poor end to 2013, he produced a far better effort when a brave second to Emperors Choice in the West Wales National at Ffos Las (3m4f on heavy) in February. He then went on to land Ludlow’s big race of the year the Forbra Gold Cup, proving he has the pace to win around a sharp 3m as long as the ground is slow. A brave third at Haydock on unsuitably quick going, staying on well at the finish, followed and he was third over hurdles at the same venue last month. Whilst he has of course been going up the handicap for those fine efforts, the fact he will be most at home on the testing ground is a big advantage today.
Gordon Elliott appeared to hold a strong hand until yesterday, but Raajih’s best form is on much faster ground, whilst Hold Em Cowboy has been winning much weaker contests, albeit on slow ground and I don’t think he is guaranteed to get home in a truly run 3m competitive race.
1pt win – Secret Millionaire – 3.30 Goodwood (6/1 general)
1pt each-way – Firebird Flyer – 4.25 Perth (9/1 Totesport, Betfred)