This year's Qatar Goodwood Festival is shaping up to be another tremendous feast of racing, with a host of proven G1 performers remaining engaged following the latest scratchings' deadline for the five-day spectacular on the South Downs.
No fewer than 14 of the 20 horses going forward in the £1-million Qatar Sussex Stakes, the mile highlight of the second day on Wednesday, July 31, have already finished first or second at G1 level, including eight individual G1 winners.
Too Darn Hot is the 7/2 favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, with last year's European champion two-year-old having bounced back to his best for trainer John Gosden and owner/breeder Lord Lloyd-Webber with an impressive victory over seven furlongs in the G1 Qatar Prix Jean Prat at Deauville, France, on July 7.
Gosden won the 2014 Qatar Sussex Stakes with Kingman and the Newmarket handler could also be represented by a son of the top miler in King Of Comedy (4/1 with Unibet). The progressive three-year-old colt was beaten a neck on his first G1 appearance in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A strong three-year-old challenge could also feature G1 Commonwealth Cup victor Advertise (Martyn Meade), G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas scorer Phoenix Of Spain (Charlie Hills) and Skardu (William Haggas), who was third in the G1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
The older generation is set to be well-represented, with four of the first five home in this year's G1 Queen Anne Stakes - Lord Glitters (David O'Meara), Beat The Bank (Andrew Balding), Romanised (Ken Condon IRE) and Le Brivido (Aidan O'Brien IRE) - all engaged.
Accidental Agent (Eve Johnson-Houghton) took the Royal Ascot showpiece in 2018, while Zabeel Prince (Roger Varian) and Dream Castle (Saeed bin Suroor) have both captured G1 prizes over nine furlongs this year.
Qatar Sussex Stakes - Unibet prices:
7/2 Too Darn Hot; 4/1 King of Comedy; 8/1 Phoenix of Spain, Le Brivido, Lord Glitters; 10/1 Beat The Bank; 12/1 Zabeel Prince, Never No More, Skardu; 16/1 Romanised, Happy Power; 20/1 Accidental Agent, Veracious, Advertise; 25/1 Dream Castle, Hey Gaman, Matterhorn, I Can Fly; 33/1 Just Wonderful; 40/1 Happen
Each-way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3
Unibet rates outstanding stayer Stradivarius a 5/6 chance to emulate record-breaking Double Trigger by gaining a third victory in the two-mile £500,000 G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup on Tuesday, July 30, following his wins in the 2017 & 2018 renewals.
The John Gosden-trained five-year-old gamely beat Dee Ex Bee (Mark Johnston) to capture a second G1 Gold Cup over half a mile further at Royal Ascot on June 20.
Godolphin's Cross Counter, 4/1 second-favourite with Unibet, finished a close fourth in the Gold Cup, his first attempt at two and a half miles. The four-year-old is unbeaten in two appearances over two miles, headed by a running-on victory in the G1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington, Australia, in November.
His trainer Charlie Appleby commented: "Cross Counter has definitely come forward since his run in the Gold Cup and dropping back to two miles at Goodwood will suit him well.
"It was a very pleasing run at Royal Ascot. He travelled into the race well from a position that may have been slightly further back than ideal, but we wanted to ride him that way on his first try over two and a half miles.
"I don't think we would have beaten the winner if we had ridden him closer to the pace, but we may well have been bang there for second.
"We can ride him more aggressively back over two miles, while he broke the course record for a mile and a half at Goodwood in the Gordon Stakes last year, so we know he acts on the course."
Three-year-olds receive 15lb from older horses in the Qatar Goodwood Cup and six of the 21 acceptors could take advantage of this significant weight allowance, just as Stradivarius did in 2017.
They are headed by Royal Ascot G2 Queen's Vase winner Dashing Willoughby (Andrew Balding), plus the first and second from the King George V Handicap, South Pacific and Constantinople, who are both trained by Aidan O'Brien for Coolmore partnerships.
Recent Newmarket Listed winner Wells Farhh Go (Tim Easterby) and the last two winners of the Northumberland Plate - Withhold (Roger Charlton) and Who Dares Wins (Alan King) - also remain engaged.
Qatar Goodwood Cup - Unibet prices:
5/6 Stradivarius; 4/1 Cross Counter; 5/1 Dee Ex Bee; 12/1 Southern France, Wells Farhh Go; 14/1 Dashing Willoughby, Constantinople; 16/1 Cleonte; 20/1 Barbados; 25/1 Amade, Norway, Ben Vrackie, South Pacific; 33/1 Salouen, Withhold, Who Dares Wins; 40/1 Harpo Marx; 50/1 Raa Atoll, Red Galileo; 66/1 Pilaster, Cypress Creek
Each-way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3
Three-year-old fillies have won the four most recent renewals of the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes, run over just shy of 10 furlongs, and the Classic crop are set to launch another formidable challenge in the feature race on Ladies' Day, Thursday, August 1, which has 27 acceptors.
Hermosa (Aidan O'Brien IRE) won both the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas, while Channel (Francis-Henri Graffard FR) landed the Prix de Diane (the French Oaks) at Chantilly on June 16.
G1 Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood (Aidan O'Brien IRE) and G2 Prix de Malleret scorer Mehdaayih (John Gosden) could also represent the three-year-old generation.
Older contenders include dual G1 winner Magical (Aidan O'Brien IRE), who chased home Enable in the G1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park on July 6, and the first and second from the G2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot - Move Swiftly (William Haggas) and Rawdaa (Sir Michael Stoute). Japanese raider Deirdre (Mitsuru Yashida JPN), winner of the G1 Shuka Sho in 2017, also remains engaged.
Wild Illusion (Charlie Appleby) dominated from the front for a convincing success in the 2018 Qatar Nassau Stakes and the Godolphin filly could bid to become the first multiple winner since Midday completed a hat-trick of victories in the race in 2011.
The four-year-old, who has also won two G1 races in France, finished fourth behind Iridessa (Joseph O'Brien IRE), Magic Wand (Aidan O'Brien IRE) and Pink Dogwood on her latest outing in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes over a mile and a quarter at the Curragh, Ireland, on June 28.
Charlie Appleby said: "We have left Wild Illusion in the Qatar Nassau Stakes and we will certainly have a look at running her again.
"The ground was quick enough for her in the Pretty Polly Stakes, but she has come out of the race with no problems.
"She has a couple of options, including the G1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville (August 18), and does appreciate a bit of ease the ground.
"If conditions at Goodwood are suitable, I am sure that we will be taking a good, strong look at the race, although it can be tough to give weight to the three-year-olds, as we found to our benefit last year."
The Qatar Sussex Stakes, the Qatar Goodwood Cup and the Qatar Nassau Stakes are all part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Acceptors are also unveiled today for three G2 races staged during the Qatar Goodwood Festival for three-year-olds and upwards, plus the two very valuable handicaps - the £150,000 Unibet Golden Mile (Friday, August 2) and the £250,000 Unibet Stewards' Cup (Saturday, August 3).
The seven-furlong £300,000 G2 Qatar Lennox Stakes on Tuesday, July 30, has 40 horses going forward, including Advertise (Martyn Meade) and Dream Of Dreams (Sir Michael Stoute), who went down by a head to Blue Point in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over a furlong less at Royal Ascot.
Wokingham Handicap scorer Cape Byron (Roger Varian) and last season's G1 Prix de la Foret victor One Master (William Haggas) also remain engaged alongside Space Traveller (Richard Fahey), successful in the G3 Jersey Stakes.
Battaash (Charlie Hills) is going for a third successive win in the £300,000 G2 King George Qatar Stakes over the fast five furlongs on Friday, August 2, following two blistering displays including when the four-length victor in 2018.
He features among 21 contenders remaining this year, alongside G2 Duke Of York Stakes winner Invincible Army (James Tate),French challenger Big Brothers Pride (Francois Rohaut FR) and G1 King's Stand Stakes fifth Fairyland (Aidan O'Brien IRE).
Enbihaar (John Gosden)and Dramatic Queen (William Haggas) were separated by a neck in the G2 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock Park on July 6 and the duo headline 17 acceptors for the G2 £300,000 Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes (25 entries) over a mile and six furlongs, on Saturday, August 3.
The first and second from the 2018 renewal - Pilaster (Roger Varian) and Maid Up (Andrew Balding) - also go forward along with Star Catcher (John Gosden), winner of the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Mojito (William Haggas), successful in a valuable handicap at Sandown Park on July 6, is Unibet's 5/1 market leader for the Unibet Golden Mile (76 entries remain), while Flavius Titus (Roger Varian) and Justanotherbottle (Declan Carroll) are 12/1 joint favourites for the six-furlong Unibet Stewards' Cup (104 entries go forward).