Epictetus bids for back-to-back big-race wins at Goodwood in the William Hill Celebration Mile.
Having chased home Auguste Rodin in Group One company at Doncaster at the end of his juvenile campaign, connections justifiably had Classic aspirations at the start of this season.
But while a comeback win in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom kept that particular dream alive, he could finish only fifth in both the Dante at York and the French Derby and was disappointing in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.
John and Thady Gosden elected to revert to a mile in Goodwood’s Group Three Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes three weeks ago and having inflicted a surprise defeat on the exciting Nostrum, a return to the track for this weekend’s Group Two feature is an obvious next port of call.
“He was obviously a course and distance winner last time out in a good field. He’s stepping up in grade again on Saturday, but the drop down to a mile has suited him well and he’s been in good order since his last run,” said Thady Gosden.
“I don’t think he necessarily needs soft ground – he’s relatively versatile as regards to ground.”
Roger Varian’s Charyn and William Haggas’ Aldaary finished fourth and fifth respectively when faced with the mammoth task of taking on Paddington in the Sussex Stakes and now drop to a slightly easier level, while Ed Walker’s consistent mare Random Harvest steps up and takes on the boys having registered a Group Three victory in the Valiant Stakes at Ascot.
Walker said: “I think this is a good opportunity for a Group Two for her and we’re hoping the rain stays away.
“She’s in cracking form and I’m hoping for another big run.”
Simon and Ed Crisford have won this twice in the last three years thanks to Century Dream in 2020 and Jadoomi 12 months ago and fresh from breaking their Group One duck at Deauville last Sunday, will be hoping to enhance their fine race record with Knight.
He looked to possess some real class when winning the Horris Hill last season and enjoyed a first taste of the mile distance when not disgraced over track and trip behind Epictetus earlier this month.
Knight was fourth on that occasion, with Charlie Hills’ Galeron a place ahead in third, while Andrew Balding’s Holguin and Ralph Beckett’s Angel Bleu complete the line-up for this competitive heat.