Celebration Mile Tips: Stick with the Vision

There are 12 possibles for this year's Celebration Mile at the five-day entries stage.
There are 12 possibles for this year's Celebration Mile at the five-day entries stage.

Nick Seddon previews Saturday’s Celebration Mile at Goodwood, which is shaping up into an above-average renewal at the five-day entries stage…

Due to its position in the calendar at the end of August, it’s rare that we see the big hitters of the one-mile division taking their chance in the Celebration Mile, though there’s an eye-catching field of 12 possibles at the five-day stage. 

Bearing in mind that we’re yet to have a field that’s bigger than eight this century, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a full compliment, meaning that last year’s winner Duke Of Hazzard is a logical starting point. The four-year-old enjoys his trips here, with three of his five career wins coming in Sussex, and he built on a game success in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes to seal a course and distance double in this last year. He generally needs a strong pace to be seen to best effect, which he should get here, though he’ll need more than when last of eight behind Regal Reality at Salisbury earlier this month in what’s highly likely to be a stronger renewal than 12 months ago, and continued rain would be a worry. 

Happy Power was third behind Duke Of Hazzard as a three-year-old last year, and he’s enjoyed another typically busy campaign so far, returning to winning ways in a conditions race at Salisbury earlier this month, though he’s regularly been held at this kind of level, as it’s no surprise to see Regal Reality sitting much shorter in the betting. Regal Reality held his own pretty well in some lofty company last season, and has brought that into this campaign, winning the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes in really good style earlier this month. Like Duke Of Hazzard, he too has won the Thoroughbred Stakes over course and distance, doing so in 2018, though he’s vulnerable now returned to Group 2 company, and others make more appeal at the prices considering he’s the 9/4-joint favourite at the time of writing. 

The standout performer on ratings, though, is the current joint favourite Benbatl, who could make his reappearance here for the Saeed bin Suroor team. He's capable of high-class form on his day, as he showed when winning the 2018 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. His campaign was built around a tilt at the Dubai World Cup last winter, and with that race falling victim to the Coronavirus shutdown, it seems likely that his campaign will once again centre around Dubai.

He showed that he's more than capable of defying a long absence when returning from a 335-day break to win the Group 2 Joel Stakes over this trip last September, and he'd be very difficult to oppose if taking his chance, though persistent rainfall between now and Saturday would be a worry - and it could well convince bin Suroor to once again target a return at Newmarket next month.

Three more who sit prominently in the market at this stage are Sir Busker, Urban Icon and Century Dream. The last-named is a dual winner at Group 3 level over this trip, most recently when winning the rearranged Diomed Stakes at Newmarket in  June. He struggled when fifth at the top level at Chantilly last time, though any softer going would hold no fears. Urban Icon went close off a big weight in a competitive handicap over course and distance last month and can't be ruled out back in Group company, while Sir Busker steps up into this level for the first time. He's a smart handicapper, winning the Silver Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot in June, though he struggled to find a clear run when ninth behind Urban Icon here last month.

Like Urban Icon, Escobar is another who's shown plenty at Goodwood in the past, finishing third in last month's Lennox Stakes and having no luck when travelling all over his rivals in the Golden Mile a year before, but he's arguably shown his best form at seven furlongs. Meanwhile, the three-year-old Positive has shaped well in three starts so far this term, chasing home Regal Reality when third at Salisbury last time, and there could be more to come from him yet, though it is Dark Vision who makes the most appeal at the prices as an each-way prospect.  

He's rather difficult to catch right at the best of times, and having looked as though he'd turned over a new leaf so far this season, he promptly disappointed in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes over slightly further at York on Saturday. That just seemed to be an off day for Dark Vision, but he had been enjoying a good time of things prior to that, and hinted that he was ready for a return to Group company when striking in a listed race at Pontefract two starts ago.

The form of that Pontefract run - combined with his effort to win the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot earlier this summer - would put him right into the mix for this, and bearing in mind that this race could cut up between now and the weekend, it could be worth taking the juicy-looking 12/1 about him now. Indeed, he would likely be much shorter than that if lining up, and bearing in mind that runners from the Mark Johnston yard regularly shrug off poor outings with the minimum of fuss, he looks a nice each-way prospect in a tricky-looking puzzle - with any strong pace an obvious bonus. 

Meanwhile, the field is completed by Look Around and Bless Him, both of whom have plenty to do to get serious at this level, and it is Johnston's charge who makes the most appeal at the prices. 


Celebration Mile, Saturday 29th August - back Dark Vision each-way at 12/1

Celebration Mile
Dark Vision silk

Dark Vision (EW)

2020 St Leger Odds
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