John Gosden’s six-year-old is bidding to win this coveted Group One prize, the showpiece on day one of Glorious Goodwood, for the fourth time in succession.
Lying in wait, however, is a dangerous opponent with the aspirations and profile Stradivarius himself had when he first struck over this course and distance in 2017.
In receipt of almost a stone from the majority of the field as a three-year-old back then, Stradivarius lowered the colours of front-running favourite Big Orange.
He did so, having signalled his staying potential with victory in Royal Ascot’s Queen’s Vase.
For good measure in opposition this time, Aidan O’Brien’s Santiago has added a hard-fought Irish Derby success to his Ascot gains – and he is the three-year-old out to rain on the favourite’s parade by taking advantage of an even bigger weight differential.
The snag for Santiago, though, is that Stradivarius demonstrated emphatically last month – with his memorable 10-length trouncing of his Gold Cup opponents at Ascot, for his third victory in that great race – that he is at least as good as ever.
Peerless then, and due to return to favoured quicker ground here, Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori can be expected to have the rest dancing to their tune as usual.
Half-an-hour before they strut their stuff, Space Blues can continue his progression in the Qatar Lennox Stakes.
Charlie Appleby’s colt saw off stablemate D’bai with anticipated ease at ParisLongchamp last month – and although he has yet to strike at this exalted level, he was twice Group One-placed at or around this trip last summer and looks ready to break new ground.
Devious Company has an opportunity to confirm he is well above average in the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes.
Tom Dascombe’s colt made a fine impression with speedy Haydock victories on his first two racecourse appearances.
The suspicion is he then ran into a future star when chasing home Appleby’s Master Of The Seas in Newmarket’s Superlative Stakes this month.
The winner that day could well turn out to be exceptional and if so, Devious Company has already shown enough to strongly suggest he can make it three career wins from four, at a course which should suit his prominent and exuberant style.
Goodwood opens with two tough handicap puzzles, but the rewards for solving them should be substantial.
In the British European Breeders Fund EBF Fillies’ Handicap, Angel Power catches the eye.
Roger Varian’s three-year-old was a convincing winner on her seasonal and all-weather debut at Chelmsford, having failed to get her act together when nonetheless a decent third on her only previous start at Newmarket last November.
She kept on well despite having to settle for a close second on her first handicap foray at Haydock last time out, and is a quick learner who should be a danger to all here.
Derevo is another who appears on an upward curve and is of interest in the Unibet You’re On Handicap.
Three times a winner last year, Sir Michael Stoute’s colt began this campaign with an encouraging performance when a handy third to Fifth Position at Doncaster.
With that run under his belt, he can be expected to improve following a short break since and is unhindered by any further imposition in the weights.
The Galway Festival dovetails with Goodwood this week, and is as ever highly competitive.
Mick Halford has found an opening for his consistent stable star Surrounding in the COLM QUINN BMW Irish EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes.
She has mixed it in classy company and always does her trainer proud, at home and in Dubai through the winter.
After twice finishing placed over this trip in Group company already this month, Surrounding can add to her black-type tally, despite having to concede weight all round to younger rivals.
At Ayr, Dutch Decoy can follow up a recent win at Kempton for Mark Johnston.
The handicapper only put him up 3lb as the winning distance was not far, but he was going away at the line and he should strip fitter in the Jordan Electrics Handicap.
AYR: 12.20 Lyons Lane, 12.55 Readman, 1.30 Sienna Dream, 2.00 Ventura Express, 2.30 Dutch Decoy, 3.00 Stockbridge Tap, 3.30 Humbert, 4.00 Let Me Be, 4.35 Lola Showgirl.
GALWAY: 4.45 Bondi Dreams, 5.15 Mostaqqer, 5.45 Surrounding, 6.15 Meaningful Vote, 6.45 San Pedro, 7.15 Landing Zone, 7.45 New York Ballet, 8.15 Eight And Bob.
GOODWOOD: 1.10 Angel Power, 1.45 Derevo, 2.15 DEVIOUS COMPANY (NAP), 2.45 Space Blues, 3.15 Stradivarius, 3.45 Count D’Orsay, 4.20 Tawleed, 4.55 Asiaaf.
YARMOUTH: 4.30 Capla Huntress, 5.00 Awesomedude, 5.30 Hemsworth, 6.00 Holy Tiber, 6.30 Bobby On The Beat, 7.00 Camachess, 7.30 Piranesi, 8.00 Cashel, 8.30 Michaels Choice.
DOUBLE: Devious Company and Space Blues.
‘We’ll stick to the plan and go for the Champion Hurdle’.
O’Brien’s Grade Two winner may head to Aintree in the spring.
Mullins chaser yet to hit form this season.