Trainer Roger Charlton is looking forward to saddling Huntsmans Close and Quest For More in two of the feature races during the Qatar Goodwood Festival next week.
Improving sprinter Huntsmans Close is the ante-post favourite for the £250,000 Qatar Stewards’ Cup (Saturday, August 1), while Quest For More is set to take on Europe’s leading stayers in the £300,000 Group Two Qatar Goodwood Cup (Thursday, July 30).
Huntsmans Close is out to give Charlton a record equalling fourth victory in the six-furlong heritage handicap, following on from Genki (2009), Patavellian (2003) and Harmonic Way (1999). The five-year-old captured the Ayr Silver Cup decisively in September and was last seen out annexing a six-furlong handicap at Windsor on June 27.
Charlton said today: “Huntsmans Close is all set for the Qatar Stewards’ Cup. He is in good order and his preparation has gone very well.
“It’s hard to compare him with my previous winners as every horse is different, but his last few races have all been described as career bests.
“He has got to keep that sort of improvement going, which is always difficult, but he goes there with a chance.”
John Scott and James Jewitt are the only two trainers to have won the Stewards’ Cup four times, with the pair both achieving the feat in the 19th century.
Quest For More has won two of his three starts this season, starting with a gutsy victory in the 14-furlong Lidsey Silver Anniversary Handicap at Goodwood on May 23. The five-year-old subsequently defied joint top-weight for a smooth length and a quarter success over Max Dynamite in the two-mile Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on June 27.
Those two wins, coupled with a head defeat at Newmarket on his seasonal return, have seen him rise 19lb in the handicap to a mark of 109, only 4lb behind Trip To Paris, who was successful in the Group One Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last month.
Charlton commented: “The plan is for Quest For More to go for the Qatar Goodwood Cup. It was a good performance in the Northumberland Plate and he seems to be physically stronger this year.
“This is obviously a big step going from a handicap to a Group Two, but he is tough and game and has a bit of form around Goodwood this year.
“It will be hard to beat the Gold Cup winner but our horse deserves to take his chance and there is good prize money on offer.”
The Qatar Goodwood Festival gets under way a week today on Tuesday, July 28 and Clerk of the Course Seamus Buckley is happy with the condition of the track.
Buckley commented this morning: “I am more than pleased with the condition of the course. The going is being described as Good (Good to Firm in places on the round course). We have had a total of eight millimetres of rain over the last five weeks, and two millimetres of that fell yesterday.
“We have been watering the course lightly to maintain moisture and keep the grass healthy during this dry period. We are where we would want to be as this stage, building up to the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
“The forecast is for some rain in the area on Friday, which would be very helpful and appreciated to alleviate any further watering.”
Goodwood announced in December a new ten-year partnership with Qatar, which is the single biggest sponsorship deal ever done for the benefit of British racing.
Commencing in 2015, this makes the Qatar Goodwood Festival one of the most significant and valuable meetings in the world. The highlight, the Qatar Sussex Stakes, is worth £1 million.
The Qatar Goodwood Festival runs for five days from Tuesday, July 28 to Saturday, August 1.
The Gordon Enclosure has now sold out on Saturday, August 1. For further information and to book tickets, please visit www.goodwood.com
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