Balding said: “The likelihood is he’s going to encounter different ground conditions to what he did at Ascot, which is an unknown, but I’m very happy with the horse – and I think the extra furlong will suit him well. It was a very good performance in the Coventry, and likewise first time out he was very impressive.
“He’s obviously a horse with a huge amount of talent. It was always the intention to step up to seven furlongs after Ascot, and I hope if he handles the ground he’ll go very well.”
Berkshire Shadow’s biggest threat appears to be the Richard Hannon-trained Lusail.
The son of Mehmas proved his stamina when winning over seven furlongs at Newmarket in June, before dropping back to six to win the Group Two July Stakes three weeks ago.
Hannon, who also saddles outsider Secret Strength, said: “Obviously Lusail has been over seven before, so that’s a plus for him.
“He’s got a decent draw (stall three), and if he handles the ground he’ll go very close. I hope he’ll handle the ground, but you never know until you try. The other horse is no mug. He’s got plenty of ability, and if he goes in the ground he could run a big race.”
The Nick Bradley Racing-owned Eldrickjones has ground to make up on both Berkshire Shadow and Lusail, having filled the runner-up spot in the Coventry and finished fifth in the July Stakes.
“I’d be hopeful we could at least finish a bit closer to Berkshire Shadow, based on the fact I think we were on a less favoured part of the track than the winner at Ascot,” said Bradley.
“I think the step up to seven furlongs will be a help for us, and probably a help for him as well.
“Lusail is probably the one to beat, in my opinion. But with horses like this, there’s only so many races you can go for – and I’ve had this race in mind for some time for our horse.”
Charlie Appleby appears to have a stranglehold on the Unibet Lennox Stakes, with both Space Blues and Creative Force lining up for the Godolphin trainer.
Appleby has enjoyed a dream season, with Adayar and Hurricane Lane dominating the three-year-old middle distance races, but Space Blues and Creative Force will not be hanging about over seven furlongs on Tuesday.
Space Blues won the race 12 months ago, while three-year-old Creative Force had his winning streak brought to an end in the July Cup but lost little in defeat when just two lengths behind Starman.
“He’s a past winner of the Lennox and is part of the furniture at Moulton Paddocks,” Appleby said of Space Blues, who disappointed when last seen in the Al Quoz Sprint.
JOCKEYBOX with Oisin Murphy and Oli Bell
“He hasn’t been seen since running down the field at Meydan. I think now we can quite safely say Meydan is not his track – especially over the six there. But we’ve seen in the past what a seven-furlong specialist he is, including at Goodwood. He looks fantastic – and of all our runners at Goodwood, he’d be the one I’d be looking forward to. He might not be a Blue Point, but he’s very solid.”
Of Creative Force, the Newmarket trainer told www.godolphin.com: “We are looking forward to stepping (him) back up to seven furlongs – it’s a sharp seven at Goodwood, which will suit him.
“The ground was a bit quick for him at Newmarket last time, but should be more to his liking here. He is a very solid horse, who is getting a three-year-old allowance, and he goes there in great shape.”
Safe Voyage finished fourth in the race 12 months ago for John Quinn, and put two disappointing early-season runs behind him when winning at Chester last time.
Quinn said: “We were very pleased with him at Chester, and he’s come out of the race well. He likes Goodwood – he ran well in this race last year. It’s a spicy race, as you’d expect, but we’re hopeful of a big run. The rain has come, and cut in the ground is spot on for him.”
As for his two poor runs, Quinn added: “He had a hard time in America at the Breeders’ Cup – it just didn’t work out. The ground was like concrete, and it maybe took him longer to get over it than I first thought.
“In the Lockinge it didn’t work – we got involved in a frenetic early pace, and then he actually ran better than his finishing position at Haydock without quite running up to his best. From Haydock we were very happy going into Chester, and it was nice to see him bounce back there.”
Andrew Balding runs Happy Power, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore, with Silvestre de Sousa choosing Fivethousandtoone.
Balding said: “Happy Power will love the ground. He was a bit disappointing last time, so he’s on a retrieval mission, but he’s a course-and-distance winner and takes his racing well. Fivethousandtoone wouldn’t want much more rain. If the ground got very soft it would be a problem for him.
“He was disappointing at Haydock last time. He’s a horse with immense potential, but it didn’t pan out for him at Haydock. He’s got a lot of ability and he could go well.”
Stradivarius bids to put Royal Ascot disappointment behind him by claiming a remarkable fifth victory in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.
With three Gold Cups at Royal Ascot, back-to-back wins in both the Yorkshire Cup and the Lonsdale Cup and a Doncaster Cup thrown in for good measure, it is fair to say the seven-year-old’s status as one of the sport’s great stayers has long since been assured.
John and Thady Gosden’s charge came up short in his attempt to emulate Yeats with a fourth Gold Cup success last month, but he will be a hot favourite to get back on the winning trail and bring the house down on his return to the Sussex Downs on Tuesday.
“He didn’t have much of a race at Ascot, so that race didn’t seem to knock him back too far physically,” said John Gosden. “He’s won four Goodwood Cups in a row, which takes some doing. It’s going to be a fascinating race, with some very nice horses turning up, and you’re always going to need some luck in running around Goodwood – given it’s not exactly a big, open galloping track.
“Goodwood is quintessentially different – rolling in and out, left, right and has cambers. It should make for an exciting day on Tuesday. He’s been a pleasure and a lot of fun to train through the years – but as a seven-year-old full horse, he probably knows a great deal more about the game than I do!
“It’d be wonderful if he puts in a big performance and runs well or wins, but even to have him there for a fifth time is an achievement for everyone here in itself.”
Stradivarius is set to renew rivalry with several horses who also contested the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting, but sadly not the impressive winner Subjectivist – who will miss the rest of this season because of injury, with his future beyond that uncertain.
In Subjectivist’s absence, trainer Mark Johnston saddles his half-brother Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road, but admits neither matches up to his sidelined stable star.
“I’d have put Subjectivist alongside Attraction and Shamardal as one of the three best I’ve trained,” said Johnston. “He was one of those rare horses with which you weren’t really concerned about the opposition, because he was better than anything out there, and I can’t obviously say the same about Nayef Road or even Sir Ron Priestley.”
Sir Ron Priestley is a previous winner at Goodwood and has won both the Jockey Club Stakes and the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket this season.
However, sandwiched in between those runs were disappointing efforts in the Yorkshire Cup and the Hardwicke Stakes, and the five-year-old has to prove his stamina on his first start over two miles.
Johnston added: “We agonised over paying £25,000 to supplement Sir Ron Priestley – and I had to convince myself I was doing it for the owner, not myself, because there’s some uncertainty about the trip.
“In the Yorkshire Cup it looked very much as if he didn’t stay, but it’s hard to equate that with his St Leger second or his Nottingham win, and at the beginning of the year we had no doubt he would stay two miles.”
Nayef Road was runner-up to Stradivarius in last year’s Goodwood Cup, but has not been in the same form so far this term.
“Nayef Road’s recent runs have been mixed, but in some of them he’s shown a glimmer of his best and he deserves to be there on past performance,” added his trainer. I don’t think any of us would be surprised if he was in the shake-up, but he’d need a personal best and Stradivarius to be below form if he were to win.”
Spanish Mission finished one place ahead of Stradivarius when third in the Gold Cup, but trainer Andrew Balding is more hopeful than confident that he will confirm that form at Goodwood.
He said: “This has been the plan for a long time, and we are really pleased with him – we just wouldn’t want too much rain.
“Stradivarius is a fairly awesome opponent – and if he’s anywhere near his best he’s going to be very tough to beat – but on his Yorkshire Cup win and his Gold Cup third, Spanish Mission ought to be very competitive.”
With soft ground set to prevail on the opening day of the meeting, the horse rated the biggest threat to Stradivarius by bookmakers in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series is Alan King’s proven mud-lover Trueshan.
Last season’s Long Distance Cup scorer missed the Gold Cup after the rain failed to arrive in time, instead carrying a big weight into sixth in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle the following week.
“To see Trueshan at his best, it’s a case of the more rain the better,” said King. “He looked very good at Ascot on British Champions Day and we’ve been very pleased with him this year. I was very pleased I ran him at Newcastle in the Northumberland Plate, because you can’t keep these horses simmering away forever – and he had a proper race there. Everything has gone very smoothly in the build-up since, and we’ll see what happens.”
Aidan O’Brien runs last year’s Derby hero Serpentine, Irish Derby winner Santiago and recent Curragh Cup scorer Amhran Na Bhfiann, all of whom finished down the field in the Gold Cup.
“We’re just not really sure with Santiago whether he gets the two miles,” said O’Brien. “He could have to go back to a mile and six, and he could have to go back to a mile and a half. He had a very good run in the Goodwood Cup last year (finished third) and he’s been very well since Ascot. We’re very happy with him and very happy with his work.
“Amhran Na Bhfiann is a horse we think likes to be ridden forward – and we think going back to two miles is going to suit him. He ran in the Gold Cup, and we made plenty of use of him. Maybe, over that trip, we might have made too much use of him. We think he’s a horse who is progressing with every run.”