There was little room for doubt about the identity of Glorious Goodwood’s new sponsor as racegoers arrived for the first day of the meeting on Tuesday, and Qatar was able to celebrate a success on the track as early as the second race of its 10-year, multimillion-pound deal.
Galileo Gold, whose trainer, Hugo Palmer, is on his honeymoon, remains an outsider for next year’s Classics after his three-quarter length defeat of Ibn Malik in the Group Two Vintage Stakes. The winning jockey, Frankie Dettori, enjoyed, or plotted, a clear run through the field in the last two furlongs while Birchwood, the favourite, had no luck, having to be snatched up a furlong out while making ground rapidly. He finished fifth.
But these were minor details as Sheikh Joaan al-Thani welcomed back the colours of his Al Shaqab Racing operation to the Goodwood winner’s enclosure, on the first afternoon of 50 under the Qatari sponsorship of this meeting, stretching off to 2024. Galileo Gold’s success was the first in a British Group Two event for Palmer, who also saddled his first Classic winner when Covert Love took the Irish Oaks earlier this month.
“I didn’t need to be briefed,” Harry Herbert, Al Shaqab’s racing manager, said when asked if he had been asked to target this meeting. “Hugo reported this morning that he was in great form. He can’t be here because he’s on his honeymoon but Hugo’s horses are running well and it’s his first runner for the Sheikh and a victory.
“I think he’s a horse that can only get better and one doesn’t want to be greedy this year but I guess he’s going to be a Dewhurst or Racing Post Trophy sort for later in the season, or he might go to France because there’s the whole Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend [in early October].”
Galileo Gold – who, despite his name, is by the miler Paco Boy – is generally a 33-1 chance for next year’s 2,000 Guineas, with Birchwood available at the same price.
“I was drawn nine and there was a strong headwind, so there was no point going five wide,” Dettori said. “I had to take my chance [inside] and then you’re in the lap of the gods. He gave me a good impression, he travelled and quickened and showed courage.”
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