FOR years affectionately known as Glorious Goodwood, the Qatar Goodwood Festival is a five-day extravaganza of horseracing at one of the world’s most beautiful racecourses and remains a seaside highlight among the racing community each year.

We take a look at some of the key races this week.

TUESDAY

A reshuffle of the week’s programme this year sees the action begin on Tuesday with the newly-upgraded Group One Qatar Goodwood Cup and Big Orange one of the main attractions of the week as he bids to land the race for the third year running.

Although  James  Doyle  was  on  board  at  Royal  Ascot  for  his  most recent success, Frankie Dettori now returns from injury to partner one of the most popular horses in training.  “He’s  got  a  long  neck,  a  good  name  and  a  big  heart,”  is  Dettori’s take on Big Orange. “I’ve got quite long arms but they barely go halfway down his neck.”

Two 1400m Group Two contests, the Qatar Vintage Stakes, for juvenile colts, and the Qatar Lennox Stakes for older horses, head the rest of the programme.

WEDNESDAY

The second day of the meeting features the Qatar Sussex Stakes over 1600m and a potentially thrilling clash of the generations.

Ace milers Churchill – the dual Guineas winner, but disappointing at  Royal  Ascot  last  time  having  seemingly  boiled  over  in the  heat – and Ribchester, already a winner of two Group Ones this season and the outstanding performer at the distance among his generation since the retirement of Minding, clash in what is potentially the race of the week.

This contest has been won by some of the sport’s true greats and  victory  for  either  Ribchester  or  Churchill  on  the  Sussex  Downs would see them join such exalted ranks.

Elsewhere  on  the  card,  speedy  juveniles  get  their  chance  to  shine over 1000m in the Bombay Sapphire Molecomb Stakes.

THURSDAY

Ladies’ Day on Thursday has been given new sparkle by  the addition of the £600,000 Qatar Nassau Stakes to the card. The race has produced some titanic battles in the past, most memorably  when  Ouija  Board  and  Frankie  Dettori  held  off Alexander Goldrun after a three-furlong head-to-head in 2006.

Dettori is likely to have the choice of riding two possible top-drawer  contenders  for  John  Gosden  in  this  year’s  race,  with  both So Mi Dar and Shutter Speed in possible contention.

Two  other  Group  races  take  place  on  the  card,  the  Qatar Richmond  Stakes  over  1200m  for  two-year-olds,  and  the Markel Insurance Fillies’ Stakes, in which Gosden also has a number of interesting contenders.

FRIDAY

Previous winners Take Cover and Muthmir feature among 24 sprinters entered for the £300,000 Group Two Qatar King George Stakes on the fourth day of the meeting on Friday.

Take  Cover,  trained  by  David  Griffiths  in  Yorkshire,  became the seventh dual winner of the 1000m contest last year when edging  out  Washington  DC  and  Goldream,  to  add  to  his  success in 2014. He also went down by only a head to Muthmir in the  2015  renewal.  Now  a  10-year-old,  the  evergreen  Take  Cover  is  back  for  more  in  a  race  that  plays  to  his  point-and-shoot strengths.

There  are  three  other  Group  races  scheduled  for  Friday, including  the  Oak  Tree  Fillies’  Stakes  which  commemorates  Goodwood’s  association  with  the  prestigious  Oak  Tree  race  meetings  in  the  US  and  features  some  eye-catching  French-trained entries.

SATURDAY

The  meeting  comes  to  a  close  with  the  £250,000  Qatar Stewards Cup being Saturday’s highlight. This historic race provides racegoers with one of the toughest puzzles of the week to solve as 28 tightly-matched sprinters thunder down the home straight.  Previous winners of this iconic contest include Lochsong and distant relative Dancing Star, both owned by Jeff Smith.

Ante-post favourite this year is the Roger  Charlton-trained Projection, third in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot.  The Group Three Qatar Gordon Stakes over 2400m is one of the other highlights of the day’s action. This contest has in the past acted as an informative trial for the season’s final Classic, next month’s William Hill St Leger at Doncaster, although both of  its  most  recent  winners,  Highland  Reel  and  Ulysses,  have  gone  to  prove themselves as  top-class  international  Grade One performers at shorter distances.

-GBI Racing.

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