Hughes off mark at Goodwood - now he can retire happy

Richard Hughes gets his first frstival winner of the week on Gibeon / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Richard Hughes gets his first frstival winner of the week on Gibeon / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Champion jockey Richard Hughes breathed a sigh of relief after registering his first victory of the 2015 Qatar Goodwood Festival aboard 11/1 chance Gibeon in the opening Land Rover Handicap.

Hughes is set to retire at the end of the five-day extravaganza and had hit the cross bar during the first two days, partnering three seconds and a third.

“I can retire a happy man now!” said Hughes. “Gibeon is a fabulous horse but he has had a few tough races and met a few very good horses when he was second. I knew he had a chance today and I knew that he would handle the track after running at Epsom.

“He travelled really good and keeps fighting - he is as tough as boots.”

Richard Hannon snr, assistant to winning trainer Richard Hannon, added: “Richard has given him a beautiful ride. How he got to where he was from that draw, I don’t know. When Keble started coming I thought: “oh, not again!”

“He has run some good races and always seems to find one too good. We are talking about stepping him up to a mile and a half. We will have to go and have a think now.

“Richard has been with us a long time and ridden some very good horses for us. We had our moments but it doesn’t last more than 24 hours and it’s back to work the following day. He’s a great jockey and it is a shame that he is going to retire. I would say that there is plenty more in him yet but I think the dieting has got to him a bit - he will be 9st 10lb next week!”

Later, an excellent week for those connected with the sponsors of the Qatar Goodwood Festival got better when Shalaa won the Group Two Qatar Richmond Stakes for two-year-olds.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori in the colours of Sheikh Joann’s Al Shaqab Racing, Shalaa defied a 3lb penalty for winning at Newmarket’s July meeting, and scored impressively, winning by two and three-quarters of a length and one and a quarter lengths from Tasleet and Steady Pace.

Dettori said: “We think the world of him and he proved it today with a penalty. He has lots of speed, a good head on him and he can quicken off it - what more do you want? I am happy to take a lead but there isn’t a two-year-old fast enough to lead him so I have to make my own way home.

“He is getting a lot better. I have been riding him at home a lot and he is in a good place now - he was a bit hot and a bit temperamental but he enjoys it now and it makes one hell of a difference. I would say something like the Morny on good ground would be the target.”

There is no stopping jockey Harry Bentley, who rode his first winner at the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Tuesday, and added today’s Group Three Markel Insurance Fillies’ Stakes.

Riding the only three-year-old in the race, Simple Verse, for trainer Ralph Beckett, Bentley added to his earlier maiden win on Inland Sea by taking this fillies’ race in the maroon colours of Qatar Racing. Bentley punched the air with delight when crossing the line, conveying the importance and emotion of the win - at the end of last season he lost his position as second jockey at Qatar Racing, but left with warm praise from his former employer, and has seemingly returned a better jockey.

Bentley said: “It’s great to ride a winner for my old boss, especially on these big occasions.

“Ralph said try to keep her near the pace and see how you go. I didn’t want to set her alight, because she has been a little keen in the past. I was a little bit further back than ideal early on, but she finished well.

“Nine times out of 10 the leaders will make their way across to the rail and there can be a lot of hard luck stories, but I found a bit of a gap, and while she had every right not to go through it she battled hard. She stuck her head out and she’s a big scopey filly who could go on.

“She went left a little in the final furlong, but she wasn’t idling, just being on her own. I was absolutely delighted to get my first Glorious winner and it’s fantastic to get another in a nice race like this.”

Notary was made to pull out all the stops as she justified 5/4 favouritism in the EBF British Stallion Studs New Ham Fillies’ Maiden over seven furlongs with Andrea Atzeni aborad.

The daughter of Lawman, who was third on her debut at Newmarket earlier this month, looked vulnerable as Anabel challenged inside the final furlong but rallied gamely to hold on by a short-head. Tholen was two and three quarter lengths further back in third.

“It was a very tough performance from Notary,” said trainer Roger Varian. “I think you can upgrade it because she did everything wrong - she was keen, raced wide and didn’t really handle the bend - yet has still won.

“We will get her home and see how she is before deciding what we do next. I’m just happy she has won today.”

Atzeni gained pole position for the Racing UK leading jockey award at the Qatar Goodwood Festival when taking the Telegraph Nursery on Jaadu.

The colt became Atzeni’s third winner of the week, and a first at this year’s Festival for trainer Mick Channon, who stayed at home to entertain owners, and was represented at the racecourse by his son, Michael.

Jaadu, a 12/1 shot who had failed to make the frame in three previous starts, spreadeagled the field when galloping clear in the home straight. He was being closed down as the line approached by the 7/2 favourite Montsarrat, but scored by a length and a quarter, while the Kevin Ryan-trained Lagenda was a further four and a half lengths back in third.

Trainer Mark Johnston was responsible for 100/30 favourite Midlander in the concluding Tatler Handicap over five furlongs, but instead took the spoils with 18/1 shot Indescribable.

Indescribable ran on best of all to score by a nose in a blanket finish from Maljaa, with another Johnston inmate Showstoppa (7/1) a neck further back in third. Midlander was seventh.

“It is good to see Indescribable get back to winning ways,” said Johnston. “I think Midlander was just stuck out on the wing and could never really get into it.

“I was surprised to see Midlander outpaced early on, although that could have been because he was out there on his own. Showstoppa was also outpaced which shows the pace they must have been going.

“Indescribable is in the Stewards’ Cup consolation race on Saturday. He will stay here and we will make a decision about that over the next 48 hours.”

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