Heavy rain wreaked havoc on Day 2 of Glorious Goodwood on Wednesday, with deteriorating conditions forcing the late withdrawal of star three-year-old Churchill from an intended showdown with England’s top older miler, Ribchester, in the meet-highlighting Sussex (G1), a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
The soft ground ultimately proved a hindrance to 8-13 favorite Ribchester, who was-out finished by 20-1 chance Here Comes When, who at age seven became the oldest horse ever to win the Sussex.
As was the case in the Lockinge (G1) in May, Ribchester found intended pacemaker Toscanini unreliable in that role. Setting the pace in the testing conditions, Ribchester led Lancaster Bomber and Here Comes When to the stand side rail entering the stretch but soon failed to pick up.
Here Comes When, coming off a third in a minor stakes at Windsor, bid between rivals and outside Ribchester inside the final furlong, fought back a challenge from Lightning Spear to his outside and then held off a final lunge from Ribchester to win by a neck under Jim Crowley.
Owned by Mrs. Fitri Hay and trained by Andrew Balding, the gelded Here Comes When covered the mile in a pokey 1:46.11.
“He was always traveling strongly through the race and that gave him a chance of being placed, but I thought Lightning Spear would beat us and then Ribchester. Happily they didn’t,” Balding said.
“This rain was forecast, so the conditions are not totally unexpected. We hoped he would run well, there’s good money all the way down and he loves the ground and likes the track. He’s been in great form this year. Jim thought we would be in the first three and he gave him a great ride.
“He won two Group 2s as a four-year-old and has always been a handy horse, but he needs these conditions. We were lucky the race fell away a little bit, but you still have to run to a very good level to win it, which he did. It’s one of my more improbable Group 1 triumphs, but he was 20-1, so not completely without a chance.
“I should think he will have just one more run, probably at Ascot [Champions Day] in the autumn when I hope he gets these conditions again, and then we’ll look forward. His racing career will have to end at some point and we’ll have to find a nice home for him.”
The Ascot race in question is the Queen Elizabeth II (G1). Although Here Comes When gained automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), the likelihood of dry conditions at Del Mar make his participation doubtful.
By Danehill Dancer, Here Comes When was the highweight older horse in Germany in 2014 following a win in the Oettngen-Rennen (G2). He also captured the Challenge (G2) in Britain that year, and has placed in five other stakes.
Ribchester’s connections pinned the blame on the heavy conditions. A title defense in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) at Deauville later this month might be next.
Plans for dual Guineas winner Churchill, who was scratched a half-hour before post time, are undecided.
The ground also forced a late withdrawal of the U.S.-based filly Happy Like a Fool from the Molecomb (G3), a five-furlong dash for two-year-olds. A debut winner at Keeneland and second in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot for trainer Wesley Ward, Happy Like a Fool’s absence worked out for Havana Grey, who improved his record to four wins from six starts with a 1 3/4-length victory.