Agencies/Goodwood, United Kingdom
The first Group race of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, the Qatar Vintage Stakes (Gr2), for two-year-olds, was won by one of the favourites, War Decree. The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt displayed impressive acceleration 200m from the post, after changing legs, and took an easy advantage over Thunder Snow. Outpaced at the start, Boynton, who defeated War Decree in the Superlative Stakes, finished third.
The Qatar Vintage Stakes has showcased very good colts over the recent years, including Galileo Gold, the winner of last year’s edition.
“Like all of Aidan’s two-year-olds he’s improved a great deal from Newmarket and with every run he has progressed,” said Ryan Moore, jockey of War Decree.
“He’s a very well-balanced horse and a very good mover. He’s a nice type and he was still green when he got to the front. I’d say he’ll improve again. I felt we could (reverse the form with Boynton), getting 3lb and just inexperience cost him the last day.”
“We’ll see how he winters, but he’s improving all the time and he learnt a lot from his last run,” said Paul Smith, son of part-owner Derrick Smith. “He settled very well and loved that ground — he really bounced off it.”
Asked about future targets, Smith added: “It’s open, but maybe races like the Champagne Stakes and the National Stakes, those races are open to him. If he gets his ground, he’ll be competitive. I think the ground is important. As we’ve seen with War Fronts, it’s important they get good ground. I thought he’d be competitive, he had the weight pull today and the signs were good at home.”
Defeated in the Qatar Vintage Stakes (Gr2), Godolphin did not let the Qatar Lennox Stakes (Gr2), the second group race of this first day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, be won by somebody else. Beaten narrowly by Toormore in the seven-furlong race last season, Dutch Connection won from a neat distance, in front of another Godolphin horse, Home of the Brave. Gifted Master took the third place.
Dutch Connection stayed on for a second place in the Summer Mile (Gr2) at Ascot. The horse has options in France and America under consideration.
“We’ll have to speak to John Ferguson (racing manager) and Sheikh Mohamed to see where we go,” said trainer Charlie Hills.
“There’s an option for him in Saratoga, maybe the Prix Maurice de Gheest in France as well. He’s pretty versatile with trip and fast ground is really the key for him. He’s a fine, big horse who should improve as he gets older.”
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