Conditions a key factor in Courage’s Goodwood Cup bid

By Sports Desk July 31, 2023

Gold Cup winner Courage Mon Ami was given the nod over stable companion and fellow Royal Ascot winner Gregory due to the likelihood of soft ground in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.

Both horses are owned by Wathnan Racing and connections had considered taking advantage of the three-year-old weight allowance with Gregory, rather than running the four-year-old Courage Mon Ami.

However, the recent wet weather caused a rethink and it is Courage Mon Ami of the John and Thady Gosden-trained duo who will aim to maintain his unbeaten record.

“John was keen to train both him and Gregory for the race and soft ground or probable soft ground swayed the decision towards running Courage Mon Ami, while Gregory will now take a different route, with his main aim being the St Leger,” said Richard Brown, racing adviser to the owners.

“Frankie (Dettori) will ride and he’s drawn five. He’s back in trip but he won there impressively before the Gold Cup and we know he handles the track. I don’t think it will be a problem coming back to two miles, it was always the question before Ascot if he would he stay two and a half.

“The horse is in good form and he did his last piece of work on Friday and both John and Thady were delighted with him.”

One horse who will certainly not be inconvenienced by any further rain is Aidan O’Brien’s Emily Dickinson.

Only fourth in the Gold Cup, she subsequently won the Curragh Cup over 14 furlongs.

“Emily Dickinson came out of the Curragh very well. Ryan (Moore) was happy with her and felt she won very easily. She is a filly we really fancied for the Gold Cup. She ran a good race and came out of it well,” said O’Brien.

“She loved the ease in the ground at the Curragh. She comes out of races on fast ground perfectly, which suggests it does not bother her, but she appears much better with an ease in the ground. It hinders other horses, whereas she appears to grow another leg on soft ground.

“Since the Goodwood Cup has been upgraded to a Group One, it has been brilliant. It is a very prestigious race and a unique race because two miles on the Goodwood track is very different. It is a difficult race to win, but we always try to have a horse that is good enough to win it.”

O’Brien also runs Broome, the mount of William Buick.

One who bypassed Ascot in preference for this is Marco Botti’s Giavellotto, the Yorkshire Cup winner.

“He won well at York and it has always been the plan to skip the Gold Cup at Ascot and go to Goodwood for the Goodwood Cup,” said Botti.

“He is well and his prep has gone to plan, we think he is fit and he looks in good order. We know he stays and we’re looking forward to it.

“Two miles is not an issue but we felt the Ascot Gold Cup may have stretched him a little bit. He settles well and he looks a stronger horse than last year.

“I just worry about the ground, I hope it will be nice ground for everyone and not extremes. Good to soft would be what he wants.

“Goodwood is a track he has never run at before, but hopefully he handles the undulations. You have to respect the opposition because it’s a competitive field and a strong race, but we are going there with the horse in really good nick and we can only hope for a good run.”

Andrew Balding’s Coltrane was beaten three-quarters of a length when second in the Gold Cup and Oisin Murphy is another who feels the return to two miles will be in his favour.

“I was obviously gutted to get beat on Coltrane in the Gold Cup and he has come out of Ascot very well,” said Murphy, ahead of another leg in the British Champions Series.

“He’s a very good horse and I hope he’s as good here as he was at Ascot. All the signs at home are positive and I think this two miles will suit him better than the two and a half at Ascot.

“I don’t think the quick ground was a problem in the Gold Cup as he obviously let himself down on it, but we know from his past form that he enjoys some dig in the ground, so that’s a plus for him.”

Last year’s St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov, Quickthorn and Tashkhan are also running.

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