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Goodwood Festival: Lightning can strike in Goodwood feature

Jockey Oisin Murphy: Confident.
Jockey Oisin Murphy: Confident.
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OISIN MURPHY believes it will be an injustice if Lightning Spear does not win a deserved Group One race.

Now placed in six elite level races, Murphy has set his sights on winning today’s Qatar Sussex Stakes – Goodwood’s feature race of the week.

Three of the defeats, including Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes last time out, were by less than a length and the 22-year-old rider still retains every confidence in the David Simcock-trained miler.

While Lightning Spear’s advancing years mean he has to concede weight to the John Gosden-trained Without Parole, who proved himself to be the top three-year-old miler when winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot, this does not faze Murphy ahead of the latest leg of the Qipco British Champions Series.

After all, the jockey’s big-race win on Benbatl in Munich on Sunday was Murphy’s fifth at a Group One level in the past year and he brought up his 50th winner of the domestic season earlier this week at Wolverhampton.

“This horse needs to win a Group One because he’s the most beautiful physical specimen with a good temperament and the pedigree,” he said. “If we can get a Group One in the UK, he would deserve his place at stud and, realistically, he would be an exciting stallion prospect.

“He’s been freshened up since Ascot and is in super order. As he gets older, he’s not losing any ability. He’s won two Celebration Miles at Goodwood and he was placed in the Sussex last year when the ground was bottomless. I’d say the track probably suits him better than Ascot because there’s a turn.”

Reflecting on his latest near-miss at the Royal Meeting, he added: “When you don’t win, you look back and see what you could have done differently and, if I’m being a bit self-critical, I hit the front a little early.

“I led at the furlong pole, whereas the winner hit the front only about 100 yards or so from the line. I need to bear that in mind going forward. I thought the time was right to go because I didn’t feel we had gone overly hard, but we got racing in plenty of time.”

Royal Ascot hero Soldier’s Call bids to follow up in the Markel Insurance Molecomb Stakes today.

Owned by Yorkshire businessman Steve Parkin, the colt provided Lambourn trainer Archie Watson with a first victory at the summer showpiece meeting when claiming a narrow success in the Windsor Castle Stakes under jockey Danny Tudhope.

He steps up to Group Three level for his latest big-race assignment and is the likely favourite to see off 10 rivals, who include Vintage Brut from Tim Easterby’s in-form Great Habton stable.

Watson, regarded as one of the rising stars of the training ranks, said: “He’s been in great form since Ascot and we always felt a quick five furlongs at Goodwood should suit him well.

“I’m sure the track needed the rain they had over the weekend, it sounds like the ground will be on the quick side of good and that would suit us fine. Our horses are running well and long may it continue. The team are working hard so, hopefully, it continues this week at least.”