Will Hayler, Ben Linfoot, Matt Brocklebank and Owen Machen answer the burning questions on the back of Glorious Goodwood.
How do you rate the bet365 Summer Handicap on the Tuesday as a trial for the Ebor and does anything out of the race appeal for York?
Will Hayler: It’s a race that’s always been a really good trial for the Ebor and this year’s renewal looked as competitive as ever on paper. Havana Cooler arguably has an even better chance now having avoided the weight penalty which winner Van Percy collected for York and he looks a really solid each-way bet at this stage. I also thought Big Thunder ran a decent race, even though he faded back into seventh close home. I can’t see Sir Mark wanting to run him and Pallasator in the Ebor, so I presume another target will have to be found, but I just wonder if he could end up being a Cesarewitch horse, even if there is a stamina question-mark over him.
Ben Linfoot: Van Percy and Havana Cooler put clear daylight between themselves and a good field and look the two to concentrate on from that race as far as the Ebor is concerned. Yes, Van Percy will carry a penalty on the Knavesmire, but he's still improving at the trip and looks a real live player in the prestigious handicap. I'm not so sure about Havana Cooler. He keeps on finding one or two too good wherever he runs and this trip was supposed to unlock plenty of improvement. He has improved again and Luca Cumani has a fine record in the Ebor, but this horse keeps flattering to deceive and his popularity keeps on seeing him sent off at relatively short prices.
Matt Brocklebank: It looked an excellent Ebor trial, two highly progressive stayers fighting out the finish with the Northumberland Plate fourth over two lengths back in third. Havana Cooler made a burst for it two out and looked for a second like he might go on to score by an impressive margin, but Van Percy ran on powerfully under David Probert, despite not looking the easiest conveyance in the world. I’m sure I recall connections of the winner talking about the Melbourne Cup as a long-term target at the start of the season and he remains a very backable price for York at 14/1.
Owen Machen (Sky Bet): The performance of Van Percy hasn’t done his claims any harm. We moved cut him to 14/1 for the Ebor after that success and see no reason why he won’t be one of the main contenders at York in the feature.
Kingman. I’m sure we all agree he was brilliant, but how would YOU map out the rest of his career?
WH: My default position is to try and find the cracks in these kind of exceptional performers, but it’s hard to find one in Kingman. He isn’t as flashy as Frankel, nor probably quite as talented, but he’s clearly the best of this crop of three-year-olds – and probably last year’s and next year’s too. I hope that talk of trying him at sprinting wasn’t just loose chat in the aftermath of the race because I would absolutely love to see him a) stay in training next season and b) bolt up in the July Cup.
BL: It was the performance of the season for me. There's something about that push-button acceleration at the very top level that marks certain horses out as special and this fellow has it in spades. If he were mine I'd go QEII, Breeders' Cup Mile, keep him training, win the Diamond Jubilee, July Cup and thrash the new crop of three-year-old milers too.
MB: I’m a bit tired of people saying Kingman ‘would win the July Cup’ if connections wanted. Granted, the son of Invincible Spirit once again demonstrated his potent turn of foot to beat Toronado in the Sussex but this is a horse who has never tackled a distance shorter than seven furlongs in his seven-race career to date and I’m happy to enjoy him for the top-class miler he undoubtedly is. Roll on the QEII and all the major mile contests in 2015.
OM: It is unfortunate that when you look back at Kingman's record you see the one blot on his copybook in the 2000 Guineas. From what we have seen since the Invincible Spirit colt has impressed on each outing and talk of a tilt at the Queen Elizabeth II stakes on Champions Day is most likely, before eventually a valuable career at stud awaits.
Ivawood was a ready winner of the Richmond Stakes, how do you assess his 2000 Guineas prospects at this stage?
WH: He’s not that easy to assess, because physically he’s such a different specimen to his peers at present. If he grows again over the winter, he could be enormous and that might be a bit of a concern as he comes into and out of the Dip at Newmarket.
BL: He was clearly very impressive and he could well land a Group One this year, but, as Will says, he's more grown up than many of his rivals at present in more ways than one. Single-figure prices about him for the Guineas make absolutely zero appeal to me at this stage.
MB: This is a fascinating poser and all I’ve heard so far is that Ivawood is a fully-furnished juvenile whose peers will have all caught up with him by next season. It’s a line that the Hannon camp very rarely use for the their champion two-year-olds and I wonder if people have read too much into it. It certainly hasn’t stopped the layers as he’s a best priced 9/1 favourite for the Guineas and I’d say his odds are about right. I’d rather take him than Highland Reel at 12/1 following that one’s Vintage Stakes romp.
OM: Ivawood was head and shoulders above his rivals in the Richmond Stakes and looks like one of the best two-year-olds of the season. Currently 8/1 for the 2000 Guineas and from what we have seen so far he looks like a worthy favourite. We'll be keeping a close eye on Aidan O’Brien’s colt Highland Reel who put in an impressive performance at Goodwood as well.
Take Cover blasted his way to glory in the King George Stakes. Does he, or anything that finished behind him, appeal for the Nunthorpe?
WH: All credit to owner and trainer for the patience they have shown in this horse. But if Tiggy Wiggy or another really good two-year-old turns up, they’ll be carrying my cash instead.
BL: Take Cover is a really likeable horse who is improving at the age of seven and his no nonsense running style is ideal for the Nunthorpe, indeed, he's two from two at York. On a line through Stepper Point he's not a million miles off Sole Power and I'd rather be with a prominent racer than a hold-up performer in any sprint on the Knavesmire. The bookies have been 'taking cover' of sorts since his Goodwood win and he's into 14/1 now. I still think that's fair as I foresee him being a single-figure price on the day and he should go close. I like him.
MB: This race has been a fine guide to the Nunthorpe in recent seasons and Take Cover must be taken seriously given he is already 2-2 at York. It was encouraging to see Moviesta bounce back to form in third and he should fare a good deal better than last year’s Nunthorpe when last of 17 behind Jwala. The fifth home G Force is a horse I still think could have more to offer and although he has another 10lb or so to find with the pick of them, I envisage him going off a good bit shorter than the 25/1 available at I type.
OM: Take Cover was impressive when winning the King George Stakes and it’s hard not to see the value of him at 12s for the Nunthorpe at York where he goes so well. Of the rest Stepper Point ran a creditable race in fourth running alone on the stand's side, away from the pace. He finished well and a better draw may have seen him finish closer on the day.
Talking of speed demons, how high up the sprinting ladder can 32Red Cup winner Intrinsic climb?
WH: The right horses were involved at the finish and I think he’s probably very smart. Richard Hughes even said afterwards that he could be a Group One horse and there are plenty of recent cases of horses successfully making the climb from out of this type of high-grade handicap into pattern-race company.
BL: It was a highly-impressive performance and I think he'll climb to the very top. It was an excellent renewal, he beat some fine sprinters with ease and we won't see him in a handicap again anytime soon. Robert Cowell is a fantastic trainer of sprinters and he won't throw him in the deep end with a Group Three in Ireland already on the agenda. That approach can pay dividends and while it might not be this season, I can see him competing and winning at Group One level in the future.
MB: Intrinsic is on a steep upward curve but there have been tons of horses down the years who have won handicaps off 95 and not gone on to fulfil their potential. He’s with the right man in Robert Cowell and his ability to handle varying ground conditions will stand him in good stead, but I’m happy to keep a lid on things for now and look forward to him tackling hardened sprinters at a higher level.
OM: The colt is unbeaten for Robert Cowell, and turned in another good performance at Goodwood to win the Stewards' Cup. He could potentially be a group horse and a shot at Haydock next month in the Sprint Cup looks very likely. We are currently 16/1 about him being successful in that.