GLORIOUS GOODWOOD DAY 1: Drama for The Queen... and Atzeni is king
A day more dramatic than anyone could have imagined got Glorious Goodwood off to a cracking start.
There was a result overturned by the stewards, 100/1 and 50/1 winners, four wins by one jockey - and a big favourite beaten.
The bookies must have loved it - the punters will have gone home thinking their week can only get better.
Five days of top-class racing action on the Downs had the most dramatic of starts when the result of the opening race was overturned in a stewards' inquiry - to the delight of The Queen.
Dark Red, a 12/1 starter ridden by Oisin Murphy for Ed Dunlop, drifted towards the end of a thrilling Matchbrook Betting Exchange Handicap and although he passed the post first, an inquiry lasting around 15 minutes decided he had interfered with Adam Kirby on Fabricate, owned by The Queen, who was handed the victory.
The 20/1 shot is trained by Michael Bell - a great start to the day for the man who handles Big Orange.
Bell said: "I'm delighted for The Queen. This horse has been a real trial for us to keep right and credit to my team at home. I spoke to The Queen this morning, and said going downhill might be an issue for him, but I said 'Ma'am, the ground is going to be lovely for him'.
"Adam has given him a lovely ride and he is a very experienced jockey who was sure he would get the race and I am glad the stewards agreed with him. The stewards have taken the view he was coming with a winning run and was knocked off his stride."
The familiar colours of Frankel were first past the post in the Group 2 Qatar Vintage Stakes, a prime contest for two-year-olds, as the Prince Khalid Abdullah-owned Expert Eye, won handsomely under Andrea Atzeni after going off 7/4 favourite, with Godolphin's Zaman (William Buick) well back in second.
Expert Eye trainer Sir Michael Stoute could not hide his delight at what was his 181st Goodwood winner, and his 76th at Glorious and said: "He's an exciting horse, and while I don't know where we will go next we'll be ambitious. I'd like to go the next step before talking about Classics.
"We've only run 10 of our two-year-olds and there may be others who are better than him, but I don't know. He's very mature and strong, and will certainly get a mile. Ryan [Moore] has ridden him since Newbury, and he was impressed with him then and since. We came here hoping to win and he did it very easily.
"It's the beginning of August in his two-year-old season, but he ticks a lot of boxes because he's well balanced and well made, and with a good mind. He's still a baby. I'm excited about him - he's brimful of promise."
There was a shock in the Group 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes as the David Simcock-trained Breton Rock came in at 50/1 for Atzeni's second straight win.
Simcock said: "He's won two Group Twos previously, but God, did we expect that? No we didn't! Last year he won the Criterion Stakes and Park Stakes, so he's very useful, but we've looked after him and never run him on ground with the word 'firm' in the going description. He's a favourite at home and the lad who looks after him, Irkin, absolutely worships him. He had a little daughter the other day and he will come back in with the biggest smile on his face."
Atzeni said: "That was great. I did not expect it at all - none of us did really. David [Simcock] told me to take my time and try and pick up the pieces; I came back in and said 'we picked them all up!'"
Atzeni then completed a quickfire treble in fine style by carrying John Gosden's Stradivarius to a hard-earned Qatar Goodwood Cup victory over Big Orange (see separate story on this site).
It was a day for huge-priced winners - and therefore a good one for the bookies but not the punters - but the next one was even more remarkable as Sussex trainer Gary Moore, more commonly seen with runners at jump courses, tasted a 100/1 victory in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing EBF Maiden Stakes thanks to Hector Crouch on Thechildren'strust.
And the carnage didn't end there - Jason Hart rode 33/1 shot El Astronaute to the win in the New and Lingwood Handicap Stakes for trainer John Quinn.
Fittingly the afternoon ended with another Atzeni triumph - though this time on a mere 15/2 shot, Shenanigans, trained by Roger Varian, timing his run beautifully to take the Smarter Bets With Matchbook Betting Exchange Fillies' Handicap just ahead of Lincoln Rocks.
Day two of the festival sees the Â£1m Qatar Sussex Stakes in which the 'duel on the Downs' will have Churchill and Ribchester going head to head. But after Tuesday's surprises, who's to say the big prize will necessarily go to one of those two?