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The Qatar Goodwood Cup

Goodwood Cup
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If you prefer the blood, guts and tactical nuances of long-distance racing over the explosiveness of sprinting, then the Qatar Goodwood Cup will be your sort of race. The third leg of the QIPCO British Champions Series long-distance category, the Qatar Goodwood Cup is a two mile (3,200 metres), 200-year-old arm-wrestle.

The Group 2 race, first staged in 1808, boasts a series of big-name winners from Ardross to the big-hearted Persian Punch – a horse so popular that he had his own fan club and website – and Yeats, who not only won an unprecedented four Ascot Gold Cups in a row but was also voted Europe’s Champion Stayer in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Which Goodwood Cup winner, though, was the greatest of them all? Answer – Kincsem, way back in 1878. A Hungarian filly, she was never beaten in a 54-race career, making her the most successful thoroughbred ever. There is a museum and life-size statue dedicated to Kincsem in Budapest. Her name, incidentally, translates as ‘Precious’.

Current leading jockeys: Frankie Dettori, 3 wins (1999, 2009, 2011)
Current leading trainers: Mark Johnston, 4 wins (1995, 1997, 1998, 2004)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money




No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds


Spencer squeezes plenty out of Big Orange

The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange became the first horse since Yeats to twice win the Qatar Goodwood Cup following a gutsy length and a quarter success.

The Jamie Spencer-ridden colt led throughout the two-mile contest, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Turning for home, the son of Duke Of Marmalade was still travelling well for Spencer despite horses lining up in behind ready to challenge the gelding. However, the five-year-old was not for passing and fended off the challenge of second-placed Pallasator and third-home Sheikhzayedroad.

A delighted Bell said: “Big Orange is a very brave horse. He gives his all. He has got as very good mind and engine and he has good limbs as well – that combination is a potent force.

“Big Orange is an enormous horse and big horses tend to mature with age. It is a bit of cliché but like a fine wine he is getting better with age. He is just a star and we are so lucky to have him. He has a massive stride and such a high cruising speed. Touch wood he is very clean limbed and loves this fast ground.

“I thought he was headed and said to Claire ‘he is beat’ but Jamie always knew he was going to win. We saw Big Orange at a breaking yard in the summer of his two-year-old career. Bill [Gredley, his owner] wasn’t going to send him in but this horse cantered by and we said ‘God, this horse moves well let’s give it a go’ and the rest is history.

“He was a very raw product as yearling and was a box-walker so he didn’t go to the sales as he would have made a ham sandwich. It’s great because he has now won a lot of prize money with still more to come. He won well today and won the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket by two lengths this year. Last year he won those races by a neck and half a length so you would have to say he has improved and I think the handicapper would probably say he has as well.”

As for the future, Bell suggested another trip to the Melbourne Cup, in which he finished a two and a half-length fifth last year was a possibility.

“I had a very easy race,” said Spencer. “He was bowling along in front nicely. I was a little bit concerned that the rain had got in the ground but, other than that, there were no worries.

“They just about matched him for pace between the three furlong pole and the last furlong but, when I gave him a smack, he took off again and that did for the rest of them. Last year, he was a very good horse but this year, he’s improved again.

“The fact that he has got stronger means that he can sustain his run a lot longer. They came at him a long way out but he was very strong at the finish. He’ll be better on very fast ground – on that sort of ground he can stretch away.”

Trainer Sir Mark Prescott was delighted with the performance of runner-up Pallasator.

“I thoroughly enjoyed watching it as we had this convoluted Prescott plan that came off perfectly,” said Prescott. “I’m lucky to have a jockey (Oisin Murphy) who could have carried it off perfectly too. From my point of view, it was a joy to watch. It’s just a shame that beastly thing kept on going! He’s an exam question this horse. There are always things to put right. Rosie (Jessop – who looks after Pallasator) really does deserve all the credit as she’s the only person in the world who likes him.

“He’s just a fascinating horse – if you like that sort of problem. He’s like one of those kids who throw their weight around in the pub until someone challenges them and then they back down. That’s exactly what he’s like. Just when I think I’ve worked him out, he keeps changing. I thought the winner was jolly good though.

“He’ll head back to Doncaster now. Placing is not the problem – it’s getting the best out of him. He’s been so horrible for so long but, rather like John McEnroe, everybody loves him now.”


Position Horse Jockey Trainer Owner
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The Course

You may not have visited this racecourse, just north of Chichester in West Sussex, but you’ll surely have heard of ‘Glorious Goodwood’, the venue’s five-day summer festival.

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The festival forms a central part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, featuring three contrasting races at the end of July – the Qatar Sussex Stakes for Europe’s top milers, the Qatar Goodwood Cup for long-distance ‘stayers’ and the Qatar Nassau Stakes for a select field of fillies.

Horseracing began at Goodwood in 1802, courtesy of the third Duke of Richmond. Not that he was a huge fan. His main aim was to keep the officers of the Sussex Militia entertained.

Today’s course has a complex layout, with a six-furlong straight feeding into a tight right-handed loop catering for longer-distance races. The venue is overlooked by Trundle Iron Age hill fort, acting as an informal grandstand and offering fine views across the whole course.

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