Having got his career back on track in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat (7f) earlier this month, last season’s champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot made the return to a mile a winning one in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday.
Too Darn Hot had looked a superstar as a juvenile when he was unbeaten, but his early three-year-old campaign saw him suffer an early-spring setback that ruled him out of the 2,000 Guineas.
Connections pointed him at the Dante Stakes at York, when he was defeated by Telecaster, before a run in the Irish 2,000 Guineas which saw him finish three lengths behind Phoenix Of Spain.
At the Royal meeting last month, he was beaten a length into third behind Circus Maximus in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
The three-year-old was bidding to reverse the form with Circus Maximus and despite being keen under Frankie Dettori, tracked his Royal Ascot conqueror and Phoenix Of Spain.
Circus Maximus made a move two furlongs from home, but Too Darn Hot’s speed saw him reel in his rival and he was pushed out by Dettori to score by half a length.
Successful trainer John Gosden said: “We knew Phoenix Of Spain and Circus Maximus would go forward, and they set an even pace.
“His best trip is probably seven furlongs – I’ve put him in sprints and wouldn’t be afraid of running him in the Sprint on Champions Day at Ascot, but a nice flat mile suits. The Curragh mile was too stiff after we ran him back too soon after the Dante Stakes, and it was the same in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, where the mile climbs a long way.
“He was a champion two-year-old which proved he has speed. I’ve been so open that he missed the Greenham Stakes and 2,000 Guineas, which I think he would have won, after he threw a splint in training, but we got it wrong running him in the Dante Stakes, which is not his trip.
“Too Darn Hot has come right now, and it’s a pity that [owners] Andrew and Madeleine [Lloyd-Webber] are at a music festival in Salzburg, but it’s wonderful their horse is back, and he’s proved that being champion two-year-old was no fluke.”
Liberty Beach finds a way in Molecomb
The money had come all day for the John Quinn-trained Liberty Beach ahead of the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes and she justified favouritism when she overcame a troubled run to take the 5f contest in impressive fashion.
Under jockey Jason Hart, Liberty Beach tracked Wesley Ward’s Maven as the field set off at a furious pace down the hill. But the American raider soon began to fade, leaving Liberty Beach short of room until she found a gap in between Fan Club Rules and Wheels On Fire.
As she had done at Sandown in the Listed Dragon Stakes earlier this month, Liberty Beach showed a rapid turn of foot to win by a length.
It was a fabulous result for owner Phillip Wilkins, who bred the two-year-old out of the winning Avonbridge mare Flirtinaskirt.
— Goodwood Racecourse (@Goodwood_Races) July 31, 2019
Wilkins revealed that he had received offers for the daughter of Cable Bay and said: “We just love racing, so that is why we are here. The money wasn’t going to make that much difference to our lives, so we thought why not keep her?
“I’ve only been breeding horses for about three years. Liberty Beach is the second one and she has an older half-sister who hasn’t performed quite as well but she was a little weak as a yearling. We are just hoping that we can get a bit more out of the family because it is an incredible family.
“I lost a racehorse that I paid a lot of money for, who didn’t even reach the track, and I got very disappointed about the game. I decided to take the mares that I had and to breed. From that, we are back racing again and I’m over the moon.
“We keep going one rung up the ladder. I would like to see Liberty Beach in the Cheveley Park at the end of the season and that is probably my dream.”
Waiting game pays off with Timoshenko
A decision to put Timoshenko away towards the end of 2018 and bring him back fresh for the Qatar Goodwood Festival by trainer Sir Mark Prescott was well executed when the gelding landed the opening Unibet Goodwood Handicap.
The four-year-old had racked up five consecutive victories between July and August last year when the decision was made to send him handicapping. On Wednesday, he was reappearing for the first time this season and was bidding for an impressive sixth win on the spin.
Lil Rockerfeller, who had won the marathon 2m4f contest last year, and Party Playboy led the field into the home straight and as their challenges began to fade, sneaking up the far side rail was Timoshenko.
That proved to be the decisive move and Timoshenko stuck out his long neck to hold off the challenges of Seinesational and True Destiny to win by a neck.
Prescott said: “Timoshenko did not get here by accident; this race has been very much the plan. We stopped early with him last year and this was always going to be the race he would start his season in – it is nice when a plan comes off.
“The worse he is going, the better the result as it means they are going fast enough for him and he can stay! We were lucky that the gap on the rail opened up and there was enough room for him to squeeze through.
“The Middle Park Racing guys are great owners and I’m delighted for them. This horse was bred by Kirsten Rausing, who is one of my biggest supporters, so it is nice when a day like this happens.”
Double for Johnston
Trainer Mark Johnston had three seconds on the first day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival but on Wednesday, the Middleham maestro enjoyed a fine double.
The first came when Sir Ron Priestley was a game winner of the Unibet Handicap and was followed later in the day by Mrs Bouquet, who pulled clear to win the Alice Keppel EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes.
First Qatar Goodwood Festival winner for Nicholls
Young Flat jockey Megan Nicholls has benefitted recently from a link-up with Newmarket trainer Simon Crisford and they combined to great effect when Mannaal took out the 1m2f fillies’ handicap.
It was a fitting result for Nicholls, daughter of champion National Hunt trainer Paul, as she is the Qatar Goodwood Festival ambassador and was securing her first success at the five-day meeting.
“It’s a lot to take in!”
— Goodwood Racecourse (@Goodwood_Races) July 31, 2019