THE admirable Es Que Love (7-1) denied 5-6 favourite Toormore in a thrilling bet365 Lennox Stakes on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood yesterday.
As consistent for Mark Johnston as he has been since joining Clive Cox this season, Es Que Love had been placed in the Abernant, Duke of York and most recently the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.
Adam Kirby was at pains to ensure he did not hit the front too soon on a step back up to seven furlongs and the five-year-old stuck his neck past last year’s champion juvenile Toormore close to home.
Cox said: “There was no pace in the Hackwood last time and Adam took a calculated decision taking it up two out and he didn’t quite last home. We came here with that confidence, we just had to ride him a bit more patiently.”
Toormore’s stable companion, Anjaal, finished off strongly to grab third, and trainer Richard Hannon said: “It probably suited the winner as he’s got a better turn of foot. [Toormore] ran much better than he did at Ascot and we’ll find something similar. He was obviously a very good two-year-old and he’s not as good a three-year-old, that’s all there is to it. But he’s still a very decent horse. He needs to win something first and then go back up again.”
Johnston treats the week as a working holiday and reached Glorious winner No 60 with a 1-3-4 in the opening bet365.com Handicap as Sennockian Star (14-1) swept past Salutation and Busatto with only Luca Cumani’s Ajman Bridge preventing a clean sweep.
Van Percy (8-1) got the better of a protracted duel with 5-2 favourite Havana Cooler in the bet365 Summer Stakes. A neck split the pair, who will meet again in next month’s Betfred Ebor. Winning trainer Andrew Balding said: “With a penalty he’s probably now going to get in the Ebor so that will more than likely be the target. It would be nice to think we could get him qualified for the Melbourne Cup now he’s settling better and is committed in a finish.”
Kingman and Toronado will face just two rivals in the Qipco Sussex Stakes after War Command was ruled out of the one-mile feature at Goodwood today.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old is reported to be lame, leaving his stablemate Darwin and Godolphin’s Outstrip taking on the two big guns. Despite the field being reduced by one, Kingman faces the acid test for a Classic-winning three-year-old when he takes on a proven older performer in Toronado.
This clash between two brilliant milers has been billed as the latest “Duel on the Downs” as the talented duo put their reputations on the line in the Group One at the picturesque Sussex venue. This race is likely to ask further questions of the John Gosden-trained colt. “It’s going to be a fascinating contest,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
Goodwood will be a new experience for Kingman and it is not the easiest track to negotiate as Gosden explained. “I know the track well. If you walk it from the mile start, the track can surprise you. So many of these tracks can deceive you if you just watch them on the TV,” the Newmarket trainer said.
“He’s in good form and I’d be happy with him. I think the betting is a little extreme at the moment, but he doesn’t know the odds in the paper.”