Goodwood: Kingman is aiming to blow Toronado away
It's game on. Ground doubts dispelled, Kingman will take on Toronado in the Sussex Stakes tomorrow, the centrepiece of Goodwood's five-day "Glorious" meeting.
John Gosden, Kingman's trainer, anxious that the colt should not be risked on firm going, is satisfied that, though fast, underfoot conditions are perfectly acceptable.
So racing's latest showdown, inevitably hyped up as yet another 'Duel on the Downs', gets the green light; we are going to find out whether this year's leading three-year-old miler Kingman can beat last season's Sussex Stakes winner Toronado, and take the chance to deliver another blow for the Classic generation following Taghrooda's trouncing of Telescope in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last Saturday.
Kingman is favourite, but there is no lack of confidence in the Toronado camp – and why should there be?
Goodwood is such a happy hunting ground for his trainer Richard Hannon's stable, while his jockey Richard Hughes, the leading rider at this fixture for the past four years, is as familiar with the unique turns and gradients as he is with his own back garden.
Even so, an early winner or two would settle the nerves and the combination appears to hold a strong opening-day hand, including an ace, the extremely speedy two-year-old Beacon (2.30pm Goodwood), in the Molecomb Stakes.
Beacon's in-form stablemate Sea Shanty (1.55pm Goodwood) may improve further now stepped back to 10 furlongs and would be a popular winner for the Queen, ahead of Estimate's attempt to land the Goodwood Cup later in the week to make headlines for the right reasons after last week's doping embarrassment over a positive test for morphine.
Toormore would have been regarded as the Hannon-Hughes banker in the Group Two Lennox Stakes had he not bombed out at Royal Ascot last time.
A return to seven furlongs and a drop in grade suggests a little loss of faith in last season's champion two-year-old, although connections insist that this is merely a confidence booster.
If the old Toormore arrives, it could be no contest, but there might just be a turn-up. Having raced 47 times, Es Que Love (3.05pm Goodwood) is totally exposed.
But this enthusiastic five-year-old has been running well in very good company this year and the Sussex Downs might just be where he breaks through – he has run well on each of his three previous visits without enjoying much luck. And at the very least, he looks a decent each-way shout.
In the mile handicap, Extremity (4.50pm Goodwood) is drawn in stall one and habitually races handily, so that is one box ticked. Being in good form is another plus, of course, but the clincher is that he is ridden by Ryan Moore, joint-favourite with Hughes to be top jockey at the meeting.
Havana Cooler, a long-time fancy for the Ebor next month, warms up for York's big event in the Summer Handicap over a mile and six furlongs, but he does not have a great deal in hand of Dashing Star and Continuum on last month's Royal Ascot form.