For months now racing fans have suspected the 2020 Group 1 Furphy Goodwood would be something special – and the final field has delivered in spades, with depth and talking points galore.
The 1200m Morphettville race simply has it all.
Home-town hero Gytrash has been at the top of the markets for some time, courtesy of an outstanding 2020 campaign, highlighted by a victory in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington, and placings in subsequent Group 1 sprints in Melbourne.
Gordon Richards’ stable star is now a fully-fledged member of Australia’s sprinting elite and his RN Irwin Stakes win over 1100m at Morphettville last month was simply electric.
In his wake was $6.5 million-earner Sunlight, who presents arguably the biggest of those talking points mentioned above. Sunlight was solid when runner-up to Gytrash first-up in the Irwin, but then uncharacteristically blotted her copybook when finishing down the track – after a wide run – in the Group 1 Sangster Stakes on May 2. The savvy McEvoy camp is confident they can turn her form around in the Goodwood, and if she’s anywhere near her best – from a kind draw – she will take a power of beating on Saturday.
Past Goodwood winner and champion Australian sprinter Santa Ana Lane adds class with a capital C to the race. Though below his best in Sydney during the autumn, the devastating sprinter – with $7.7 million in the bank – could easily round up this field and become a dual Goodwood winner.
Under normal circumstances, the presence of those three runners alone would ensure the Goodwood field earned an ‘exceptional’ rating, but the 2020 renewal has many more layers.
Those layers include 2019 runner-up Behemoth. His trainer, Goolwa-based David Jolly, says Behemoth is going even better than last year, when he was unlucky behind Despatch.
And what of the James Cummings-trained Trekking, already a Group 1 winner and coming off an excellent last-start second in Sydney, albeit in inferior company?
The stable is yet to enjoy much success this carnival, but that could change on Saturday.
The Ellerton and Zahra stable’s Zoutori – which will be the first Group 1 ride for local apprentice Lachie Neindorf – ran almost as well as Gytrash in the Newmarket, though possibly enjoying a better ‘lane’ that day.
Adding further genuine interest is the new ‘pride of Tasmania’, The Inevitable.
The son of Dundeel has won eight of his 13 starts, including the rich Silver Eagle at Randwick last October. Due to Tasmania’s coronavirus racing shutdown, The Inevitable has been transferred from Scott Brunton to Victorian-based Patrick Payne, and ran an excellent second over 1000m at Flemington last start, while lumping 60kg and coming down the ‘slow’ section of the track. Despite drawing wide in the Goodwood, The Inevitable should appreciate carrying just 56kg on Saturday.
Another solid chance is Danny O’Brien’s Order of Command, which has put together two tough 1200m wins this campaign, including Warrnambool’s big sprint, the Wangoom, last week. Order of Command drops 6.5kg on that run.
Lyre – stablemate of Anthony Freedman’s Santa Ana Lane – was arguably the best run of the Sangster and can also figure on Saturday, with the right run.
And Australia’s best ‘mudder’, nine-year-old marvel Jungle Edge, will also take his place in the field, coming off a scintillating last-start win in the Group 3 DC McKay Stakes at Morphettville over 1100m a fortnight ago. If conditions suit, Jungle Edge could again be difficult to catch.
Interestingly, Todd Pannell and Jason Holder are the only jockeys in Saturday’s race to have Goodwood wins on their CVs – Pannell on Despatch in last year’s event for Tony McEvoy, and Holder on Ambala (trained by Barry Brook) back in 1994.
Tony and son Calvin will saddle up Sunlight and speedy last-start Morphettville winner Xilong in this year’s Goodwood.
David Jolly is searching for his second Goodwood with Behemoth, after winning with Zip Zip Aray in 2002. O’Brien won the race with Glamour Puss in 2005.
Selections: 1. Gytrash; 2. Trekking; 3. Order of Command; 4. Santa Ana Lane.