Jim Bolger is among those looking forward to what could be a historic week at Glorious Goodwood as plenty of Irish contenders target landmark successes in Sussex, writes Paul Martin
Bolger’s Poetic Flare leads the market for the Sussex Stakes as he looks to add Wednesday’s feature race to the 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes victories already sewn up in style this season.
There are several shots at glory for Aidan O’Brien over the course of the week while his sons, Joseph and Donnacha, along with the likes of Johnny Murtagh and Michael O’Callaghan, are also among those eyeing up memorable moments.
Here are five to keep a particularly close eye on as the action develops...
Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare (Sussex Stakes, Wednesday 3.35pm)
Not since Frankel a decade ago has a horse completed the one-mile Group 1 treble of 2,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes – but that could all change this week.
In-form Poetic Flare, so dominant in claiming victory at Ascot last month, returns to British soil looking to seal a remarkable hat-trick which his own sire, Dawn Approach, came so close to achieving in 2013 only to miss out to Toronado in this race
Kevin Manning, on board for both Group 1 wins so far this year, takes the reins once more as Bolger looks to land the first Irish-trained Sussex Stakes winner since The Gurkha for Aidan O’Brien five years ago.
A triumph in this one is missing from Bolger’s glittering CV but having been involved in some memorable Goodwood finishes over the years, he believes Poetic Flare has what it takes to play a central role in another, whatever the weather.
“Poetic Flare has been very well since the St James’s Palace Stakes,” said the veteran.
“We’re very happy with his work and he seems to be improving further. I was expecting and hoping for him to win at Ascot but possibly not as spectacularly as he did.
“He handles soft ground but he’s better on good ground. He is very well balanced, so I don’t think Goodwood holds any problems for him.
O’Brien has a strong trio entered himself courtesy of Lope Y Fernandez, Order Of Australia and Battleground.
Aidan O’Brien’s Joan of Arc (Nassau Stakes, Thursday 3.35pm)
This filly memorably claimed the Prix de Diane just over a month ago and the master of Ballydoyle now has all eyes on another Group 1 triumph across the channel.
“She’s been progressing lovely all season and we have been looking at this race for a good while,” he said.
O’Brien also has Irish 1,000 Guineas hero Empress Josephine among his entries for Thursday’s feature race, which he has won four times, which he is looking to reclaim his grip on, with son Donnacha claiming the honours last year when Fancy Blue was led home by Ryan Moore.
Michael O’Callaghan’s Twilight Jet (Richmond Stakes, Thursday 2.25pm)
An impressive win at Tipperary in June saw all roads lead to Ascot for this colt, who tracked the leaders in the Norfolk Stakes but faded in the closing stages and finished seventh.
It was a role reversal in the Group 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh, where he was ridden patiently before finishing strongly to take fifth, and he has now been entered for another Group 2, Thursday’s Richmond Stakes, back across the water.
Twilight Jet is certainly one to keep an eye on while Joseph O’Brien’s Hadman, a winner at Gowran Park and Naas already this season, is also among the contenders.
Johnny Murtagh’s Ottoman Emperor (Gordon Stakes, Thursday 3pm)
Johnny Murtagh has not yet decided whether his colt will go to Goodwood or be saved for Leopardstown the following week but if he opts for the former, Ottoman Emperor will be one to watch.
Back-to-back victories at Gowran Park and Navan this year have stretched his unbeaten run to three races and Murtagh reckons the slightly longer trip could be to his liking.
“He’d love to step up in trip,” he said. “We don’t know how good he is as he’s pretty lazy at home!
“But it’s a nice race for him, we haven’t decided yet whether we let him go there and see if he’s an English St Leger horse – it’s either Goodwood or wait a week and go to Leopardstown for 1m6f.
“The Goodwood race looks good - although it’s a Group 3, it looks competitive."
Donnacha O’Brien’s Emperor of the Sun (Goodwood Cup, Tuesday 3.35pm)
The big race on day one sees Stradivarius go for a remarkable fifth straight triumph in the Goodwood Cup but there are several Irish contenders hoping to spoil the party.
Among them is Emperor of the Sun, who claimed an eye-catching victory in the Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown before a fifth-placed finish in the Ascot Gold Cup, just one place behind Stradivarius.
Backed into 16-1 from 25s overnight, Donnacha O’Brien’s son of Galileo certainly looks a tempting each-way shot while his father Aidan will hope Santiago, Serpentine or Amhran Na Bhfiann can upset the favourite.