Newmarket trainer John Gosden appears to hold all the aces in the Bibendum Height of Fashion Stakes (4.25) at Goodwood on Thursday insofar as he saddles the highest and second highest rated fillies in the field, Jellicle Ball and Miss Giler. Preference on this occasion must be for Jellicle Ball, who would be conceding 7lb to her stable companion and 9lb and upwards to her remaining rivals if this were a handicap.
The daughter of Haydock Spring Cup winner Invincible Spirit started the season in promising fashion when failing by just three-quarters of a length to overhaul Redstart in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Newbury last month. She finished well adrift of winner, Legatissimo, in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month (as did Redstart), but takes a significant drop in class and looks worth another chance to confirm the promise she showed at Newbury.
Of course, Jellicle Ball has an extra quarter of mile to travel, but she has plenty of stamina in the bottom half of her pedigree (courtesy of Prix de l’Arc Triomphe winner Rainbow Quest) and should stay 1 mile 1 furlong and 192 yards on a fairly sharp track like Goodwood. Unfortunately, the bookmakers are well aware of her credentials, but the handicapper doesn’t make too many mistakes and she looks the most likely winner.
Selection: Goodwood 4.25 Jellicle Ball to win
In the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (3.15) at York on Wednesday, Naadirr made decent progress throughout this three-year-old season, culminating with a win in the Listed Garrowby Stakes over course and distance last September. The son of Oasis Dream continued that progress when pushed out to beat Astaire by 1¼ lengths in the Cammidge Trophy on his reappearance at Doncaster in March and, although 3lb worse off with the runner-up, can confirm the form.
Astaire franked the form when running on gamely to beat Watchable by half a length in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket last month and, as two of the highest rated horses in the field (only Lightning Moon is rated higher), both he and Naadirr look well worth their place in this higher grade. Astaire is a worthy opponent, as are previous Group 2 winner Mattmu and Lightning Moon, but preference this time is for Naadirr, who appears to have improved over the winter and looks the type to follow until beaten. He seems sure to be popular at the 5/1 currently available in the very early price lists, having already shortened from 11/2.
Selection: York 3.15 Naadirr to win
In the Totepool Racing’s Biggest Supporter Handicap (8.10) at Chelmsford on Tuesday, First Dream has shown progressive form this season, winning in this grade over a mile three weeks ago, and can defy another 8lb rise in the weights. The son of Oasis Dream has sufficient stamina in the bottom half of his pedigree, courtesy of successful French sire Highest Honor, to suggest that an extra quarter of a mile is well within his compass. Indeed, the way in which he’s forged clear in the closing stages on both starts over a mile at the Essex track reinforces the idea that the step up to 1 mile 2 furlongs may bring about some improvement. If it does, he looks decent value at around 4/1 in the early price lists against the likely favourite Well Off, who has no experience on the Polytrack at Chelmsford.
The form of both his course and distance wins has been franked by the third horse on either occasion, Play Nicely and Sculptured, so he looks won to follow, at least until beaten. Newmarket trainer Roger Varian has only saddled two runners at Chelmsford so far, but both of them were three-year-olds and one of them won, so the statistics offer some cause for optimism.
Selection: Chelmsford 8.10 First Dream to win