LIFTING THE LID: “Goodwood is a meeting we target pretty strongly, it’s probably only second to Royal Ascot in that sense.” Get Charlie’s views on the stable runners this week in Sussex …”
Yard success at Goodwood
Goodwood is a meeting we target pretty strongly, it’s probably only second to Royal Ascot in that sense.
I’m not really sure when it started, probably long before my time, but it’s clearly something that has snowballed over the last 25 years. The more that dad became synonymous with Goodwood, the more expectation there was for us to do well at the meeting and as a result the more we would target it.
In many ways I think Goodwood suits our tactics more than it suits a particular type of horse. It’s not about front runners, but purely that we don’t tie jockeys down to specific instructions. There’s probably an expectation among people that we tell our jockeys to go out and lead, but that’s never the case as we generally find it’s counterproductive. The jockeys are told to get the horse into its rhythm, where it’s most comfortable and take it from there. The old saying we use is, ‘a good jockey doesn’t need instructions and a bad jockey couldn’t carry them out anyway!’ Generally, we find ourselves at the front because nearly every other jockey in the race has been told to get a lead.
Goodwood is a very idiosyncratic track so there’s enough complications without adding extra tactics. I think the fact our jockeys have free rein to adapt to the race as they see fit must be a big help to them at a track as tricky as Goodwood.
Favourite Goodwood memories
From my younger days a horse called Road To Love is one I remember fondly. He won at Ascot on the Saturday and then backed up at Goodwood four days later. He was a horse I used to ride a lot at home, and I rode him on the morning of Ascot and Goodwood before he won.
I think Richard Hills rode him in those two races and the instructions were, ‘don’t push, don’t pull, just sit still!’ He was a very free going horse and jockeys would often get into a fight with him. I think he was five [lengths] clear at halfway, never saw another horse and won by half the track.
I was only seven or eight at the time, but Double Trigger’s third Goodwood Cup sticks strongly in the mind as he looked beaten for all money. This was a horse that was notoriously tough, but he always used to make the running and fight off his challengers one by one. Never before had we seen him drop away as if he was beaten and then suddenly conjure up another effort from somewhere to pull victory out of the fire.
I wasn’t old enough to remember his Goodwood Cup when he beat his brother Double Eclipse, but obviously that’s a replay we’ve watched many times and the commentary from Sir Peter O’Sullevan is iconic.
Win for Subjectivist’s little brother would mean the most
The winner that would be most poignant and one that I want to win most is Subjectivist’s little brother Individualism, who is going to run in the maiden on Saturday.
Subjectivist’s absence has left a big hole in the team but it would be pretty special if his little brother could start on his journey to filling the gap.
He’s out of a mare called Reckoning, who we’ve had a lot of luck with. It’s a family that we’ve trained the last five out of the mare, but this is a slightly different direction for her to head in with Individualism being by Too Darn Hot. Subjectivist is by Teofilo and Sir Ron Priestly is by Australia, so she’s generally been going to much more middle distance and staying type stallions.
Like Subjectivist, Individualism has always stood out from the crowd. He has slightly different breeding and looks to have a little bit more speed, so time will tell whether he will want the real extremes of stamina.
He’d pleased us at home and we went to Ayr first time out pretty hopeful that he’d win. He did everything bar win, and it was as impressive a debut as you could have without winning.
We went to Ayr in the hope that he would win and then we would go to the Vintage Stakes, but I have curbed my ambitions a bit and we’re now just going for the maiden. Interestingly the horse that beat him at Ayr [Cerulean Bay] is entered in the Vintage itself, so they clearly like him.
It might be the heart ruling the head, but I would like to think Individualism would take some stopping in the maiden. He’s a horse we’ve always thought highly of, and we’ve got Group race aspirations for him in the future.
Who are you targeting at the Golden Mile?
🏇 Dutch Decoy
Dutch Decoy will head the team for the Golden Mile. He went to Newmarket recently with the aim of trying to get a win to nudge him up the weights because historically he would struggle to get in off a mark of 90. He’s had a phenomenal season, but largely in defeat, so it was nice to see him get his head in front at Newmarket and it was well deserved.
Goodwood as a track maybe doesn’t suit him quite as well as Newmarket. Strangely for one of ours, he is a horse that generally comes from further back as he takes a while to warm up through the first few furlongs in a race, so he’ll need a bit of luck.
🏇 Austrian Theory
He beat Dutch Decoy at Epsom in June and has been aimed at the Golden Mile as well. I thought he ran okay last time at Hamilton. The ground had gone against him on the day, and it was getting softer all the time, so I was actually perfectly happy with that run as a trial for Goodwood.
Goodwood runners to watch out for
🏇 Barnwell Boy
He was very impressive when winning his maiden by four-and-a-half lengths at Goodwood earlier in the year. A lot went wrong for him in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot; he missed the break which was out of character and the race developed on the stands’ side and he was on the far side of the track.
It was just a maiden win at Goodwood, but the manner of it was very impressive. He impressed a lot of people in terms of the time he ran that day. Once we’d licked our wounds from Ascot, going back to Goodwood was always an obvious thing to do. He’ll be entered in the Molecomb and the Richmond. He won over six furlongs first time out, but he is a horse with a lot of speed, so I wouldn’t rule out coming back to five furlongs.
She’s a filly that we always thought a lot of. I don’t know why she lost her way at the start of the year, but her last two wins have been impressive and she’s progressing at a rapid rate. She’s entered in the six-furlong fillies’ handicap on Tuesday.
🏇 Killybegs Warrior
He won the big mile and a quarter race at the July Festival last time out. The only slight concern would be that he seems to have a bit of a love affair with the July Course – he’s three from three there – and the tests of Goodwood would be fairly different. he’ll go for the mile and a quarter three-year-old handicap on Thursday. He’s a talented horse and if he can take his Newmarket form there, he’ll have a very good chance.
When you have a career-ending injury for a horse of his ability, it’s a huge blow, but it’s a bit different in this sense because he’d had his show, been off stage and just come back for an encore. At the start we hoped and dreamed that he could come back and race regularly for years to come, but it became apparent quite early on that we weren’t going to get a huge amount of racing out of him.
After Ascot we’d already had the discussion that win, lose or draw, Goodwood would be his last run. It would have been lovely for him to bow out there, but I’d much rather he bow out with a fantastic run in the Gold Cup at Ascot than him be trailing in out the back at Goodwood.
For all I was around when dad had Attraction and Shamardal, since I’ve finished University and been full time here, he’s the best horse we’ve had. Before his injury we reached a stage with him, which is a stage you rarely get to, that the opposition didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t care who turned up at Ascot or Goodwood or anywhere else, we had such belief that he was the best stayer in training. It was purely a case of picking the races that we wanted to win and making sure we had the horse in the best shape possible.
A new career beckons
I remember us having a debrief after Subjectivist ran in the Zetland at the backend of his two-year-old season. I think at the time I was for gelding him, which luckily I was talked out of by dad and Dr Jim [Walker] because if I’d had my way he wouldn’t have the second career to look forward to that he does now!
We’ve had a few enquiries about Subjectivist as a stallion. I would say it’s almost certain to be as a jumps stallion. If we can find a nice home for him and a good second career that will be a nice comfort and hopefully he’ll do well in that as well.