Pyman's Theories: A-Z on finding Goodwood winners

Mark Johnston

Mark Johnston: leading trainer at the meeting nine times since 2000

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By James Pyman 10:54AM 24 JUL 2016 

James Pyman with an A-to-Z guide to finding winners at the five-day summer spectacular

Aidan O’Brien
When you break down O’Brien’s 13 winners at Glorious Goodwood this century, nine were three-year-olds. Seven of his winners were no bigger than 3-1 and his three-year-olds sent off this short achieved finishing positions of 131312111 (+8.73). By contrast, his fancied two-year-olds have proved less reliable with just two of the last 11 shorter than 9-2 hitting the target (-£5.34). His overall record since 2000 with juveniles is a modest 2-20 (-£14.34).

Typically this is a meeting where shorties do well in Group races. This century, odds-on shots in such races have registered 19 wins from 23 runs (83 per strike-rate, +7.80) and horses sent off 11-8 or skinnier are 30 from 45 (75%, +£11.05).

Course form
Goodwood is an undulating, fairly sharp course that suits some horses more than others. By siding with horses with better course form you can be more confident your selection will act on the track.

Lower-drawn horses ridden prominently can enjoy a significant advantage in 7f and 1m races when the ground is fast. A slow gallop can increase this edge, as last season’s steadily run 18-runner Betfred Mile highlighted when the first three were drawn in single figures and were always handy.

The most stamina-sapping race of the week could be the 2m5f contest formerly known as the Goodwood Handicap. Interestingly, since 2000 four different trainers have won this marathon at least twice – Mark Johnston (three wins), Nicky Henderson, Ian Williams and James Given (all two wins). It seems to be a race certain trainers like to target repeatedly, so respect runners in next week’s field from stables who have enjoyed past success.

Given the flying start the two-time Sussex Stakes winner has made with his first crop, it will take a brave person to oppose his two-year-olds next week.

In four of the last five seasons at least one winner has worn their royal blue silks. Horses aged younger than four trained by Charlie Appleby have achieved finishing positions of 120403418633531230 (+£8).

Hannon, Richard
This will be his third Glorious Goodwood since taking the reins from his father, who routinely did well at this festival, and last season he finished as the meeting’s top trainer for the first time with five winners. Hannon is four from 12 (33%, +£2.77) with fancied two-year-olds at shorter than 5-1.

Before last season, the only winner this decade for a stable outside Britain or Ireland was Ortensia for Australian trainer Paul Messara in the 2012 King George Stakes. Three winners last year were from such stables – Amy Eria, Dubday and Solow – and the boost to prize-money by the current sponsors may have made the meeting a more attractive target for overseas runners.

Johnston, Mark
He has been leading trainer nine times and, since 2000, blindly backing his runners has shown a £1 level-stake profit of £76.05 and has been a profitable angle in ten out of 16 seasons. Johnston excels with middle-distance horses and stayers and it has been extremely profitable to follow his 4yo+ runners in 1m2f-plus races, as that group have produced £1 level-stake gains of £79.20 (17 wins from 93 bets).

King George Stakes
This 5f Group 2 is broadly on a level footing with the King’s Stand and Nunthorpe in terms of prize-money, but for this race to routinely attract a world-class field the race conditions must be changed. Respective penalties for Group 1 and 2 winners of 7lb and 4lb are a deterrent to top sprinters.

Luck in running
Goodwood’s tight contours mean incidents of horses meeting trouble in running are rife, with racing lanes typically most congested in 7f to 1m4f races with big fields. Across the meeting last season, roughly a fifth of the runners suffered interference and the roughest race was arguably the Nassau Stakes, with two-thirds of the field hampered.

A two-year-old is typically required to produce an RPR of around 85 to win a Glorious Goodwood maiden. This is a tall order for a debutant – just 2.5% of first-time-out two-year-olds achieved this benchmark since 2010 – and 18 of the last 20 two-year-old maidens were won by runners with previous experience.

This meeting’s two-year-old handicaps are competitive, which could explain the disappointing record of shorter-priced runners. Since 2000, just four of the 21 with SPs of 3-1 or shorter brought home the bacon (-£6.62).

Ralph Beckett

Ralph Beckett: good record with big-priced winners

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Don’t dismiss lightly raced outsiders trained by Ralph Beckett, with three of his last four winners returned at SPs of 10-1 or bigger. Since 2007, his horses in this price range have shown a £1 level-stake profit of £37 (three from 20).

Returns from this six-leg pool bet at recent Glorious Goodwoods reflect high success for fancied runners (see shorties), with six of the last 12 racedays yielding payouts of less than £100 to a single unit. However, the fifth and final day, featuring the Stewards’ Cup, has proved an exception to the rule, producing dividends of £716.40, £827.20, £6,553,60 and £6,069.40 in the last four seasons. Saturday week’s Placepot possibly offers the best chance of a huge payout.

Last year’s first Qatar-sponsored Glorious Goodwood was the most
valuable ever. Field sizes seemed to reflect this, with the average of 13.5 runners up 1.7 runners on 2015, and given the enormous prize-money on offer this upward trend could continue.

Ryan Moore
With William Buick serving a lengthy suspension and Richard Hughes retired, Moore, who missed Goodwood last season through injury, is likely to be the bookmakers’ favourite to ride the most winners. Two trainers for whom he boasts strong records at this course since 2010 are Sir Michael Stoute (14-72, 19%, +£2.69) and Jeremy Noseda (5-19, 26%, +£4.05).

David Nicholls was Glorious Goodwood’s sprint king for a long period with 20 sprint winners between 2000 and 2010. He has trained just two in the last five seasons – but the yard is going well at the moment. Nicholls has trained three Stewards’ Cup winners and rode Soba to victory in this handicap in 1982. He has two strong chances of another success with improvers Kimberella and Orion’s Bow.

Two miles
This is the distance of the Goodwood Cup and Godolphin have a good record in the Group 2, having won the race four times (three in the last seven seasons).

In addition to course specialists, horses with proven form at other undulating tracks with lengthy downhill sections, such as Brighton, Catterick, Epsom and Lingfield, should be on your radar.

Vintage Stakes
Winners of this 7f Group 2 for two-year-olds often go on to better things. On the roll of honour are this season’s 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold and 2006 Derby winner Sir Percy. Eight of the last 11 winners achieved a 120-plus RPR later in their careers.

Weight for age
Roughly two-fifths of races are open to horses aged three and upwards in which three-year-olds receive wfa from their elders. This century, 70% (140 of the 244) of 3yo+ races were won by older (4yo+) horses but this age group made up 79% of the runners. Three-year-olds have won fewer races but exceeded expectations once you factor in their representation, achieving 30% of the winners from 21% of the runners.

X factor
History suggests it requires an older miler with X factor to win the Group 1 Sussex Stakes in which three-year-olds receive 8lb wfa. Frankel (2012) and Solow (2015) are the only non-three-year-old winners since 2008.

You must back Goken – a big eyecatcher in the July Cup – if he lines up in the King George Stakes. His jockey will wear his owner Guy Pariente’s yellow silks.

Runners will take a zigzag course as they try to weave through a closely knit field particularly on the round course where often there is little racing room. These jockeys boast sufficiently strong records in Goodwood round-course races since 2010 to imply they have a knack of avoiding momentum-stopping incidents: Frankie Dettori (19-101,19%, -£12.92), Ryan Moore (25-132, 19%, -£14.19), Franny Norton (8-52, 16%, +£13.25) and Andrea Atzeni (9-61, 15%, +£0.38, 15%).

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