Lightning strikes for a second time at Goodwood

Lightning Spear in the winner's enclosure after winning the Celebration Mile / Picture by Goodwood_Races on Twitter
Lightning Spear in the winner's enclosure after winning the Celebration Mile / Picture by Goodwood_Races on Twitter

Lightning Spear left it to late to challenge - but claimed a second successive Goodwood Celebration Mile title by the narrowest of margins.

A photo was needed to confirm Oisin Murphy on the David Simcock-trained winner of the 2016 race had done it again in the Group 2 contest, the biggest the track stages outside of Glorious, on a sunny afternoon on the Downs.

The 50th running of the famous race looked set to go first to Hathal, then to second-favourite Zonderland - but in fact Lightning Spear got his nose in front for the first time at the very moment he crossed the line. It was a fittingly-thrilling conclusion to the bank holiday festival's showpiece race.

Elated jockey Murphy told the Sporting Life after winning the Grosvenor Sport-sponsored race: "I just about got it right. I made no secret about how tactical the race was going to be. It was impossible to know what was going to happen, but you have to have confidence you have chosen to do the right thing and thankfully I just about got it right.

"Fair play to Sheikh Fahad and David Simcock for persevering with the horse. They got him here in tip-top shape after a heavy ground performance in the Sussex. It was a good performance today. I've lived, breathed and dreamt horse racing since I was a child. It's very hard to leave it at the races. Lads say they can leave it behind when they go in the door, but I can't so it's important when it goes right."

There were plenty of other close finishes for a large crowd to lap up on the second day of the three-day holiday meeting.

The Golf Academy At Goodwood Handicap went to Alan King's 5/2 joint favourite Just In Time, riddent by Martin Dwyer, by a neck, while theGroup 3 Grosvenor Sport Prestige Stakes for fillies brought a second Goodwood win this year for Billesdon Brook, a 4/1 contender ridden by Sean Levey for Richard Hannon, the trainer celebrating his second success of the festival.

The afternoon began with a 14/1 win for Goodwood favourite Mick Channon as the Absolute Aesthetics Fillies' Novice Auction Stakes went to Tricksy Spirit, while the Grosvenor Sport Handicap was claimed by Johnny Barnes (13/2) for Robert Tart and John Gosden.

Pat Cosgrave and William Haggas teamed up for an 11/4 win with Call To Mind in the listed Goodwood Revival March Stakes and William Carson rode 9/2 joint favourite Mountain Hunter first past the post in the Whiteley Clinic Handicap.

Racing continues on Sunday, when a seven-race card has the Group 3 Supreme Stakes as its highlight and plenty more family entertainment is in order.

Our Sunday tips: 2.10 Ibn Al Emarat, 2.45 Zoffanist, 3.20 Tribal Conquest, 3.55 City Ground, 4.30 Bless Him, 5.05 Nathania.

STEVE BONE

See a report and pictures from the August bank holiday festival in the Chichester Observer on Thursday