European Race Report: Noverre Back on Top

"He deserved to get his group I back," said a relieved Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, after tough and consistent Noverre had run out a convincing winner of the Champagne Lanson Sussex Stakes (Eng-I), highlight of the annual "Glorious Goodwood" meeting, July 31 to Aug. 4.

Noverre had come away with a classic win in the French Two Thousand Guineas (Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Fr-I, May 13) only to have it deleted from his résumé last month when it came to light he had tested positive for methyprednisolone, an arthritis medication.

"It's still a great mystery," Crisford said. "We hadn't done anything differently to what we had done in the past with him."

Sheikh Mohammed declared Noverre "the best miler in Europe" after his two-length win from No Excuse Needed and Michael Tabor and Sue Magnier's Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) hero Black Minnaloushe over the Sussex mile. The win gained revenge for Noverre's neck defeat by Black Minnaloushe (No Excuse Needed an unlucky fifth) in Royal Ascot's St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) and provided Godolphin with a rare triumph over Tabor/Magnier this year.

Noverre, a half-brother to Arazi, has Longchamp's Prix du Moulin (Fr-I, Sept. 9) on his dance card before Ascot's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I, Sept. 29) and the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) on World Thoroughbred Championships Day, for which Coral Eurobet offer him at 8-1.

Crisford said the Aug 19 Prix Jacques le Marois (Fr-I) would come too soon for Noverre but the Deauville mile is the target for No Excuse Needed, trained by Michael Stoute.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien will consult with connections before making a plan for Black Minnaloushe.

Goodwood's only other group I race is the Vodafone Nassau Stakes, run over a short 10 furlongs for fillies and mares. Class of the seven runners was Lailani, the Irish Oaks (Ire-I) winner seeking her sixth consecutive victory. Sheikh Maktoum's daughter of Unfuwain had first got on the board in a Windsor maiden this spring and has gone from strength to strength.

Trainer Ed Dunlop felt the drop back in trip from 1 1/2 miles would prove no problem for the 5-4 favorite and how right he was. Frankie Dettori completed Goodwood's group I double, bringing Lailani from third a furlong out to win by 1 1/2 lengths from outsider Snowflake, Sequoyah's pacemaker, and Time Away.

Time Away might have finished second but for getting a smack from Dettori's whip in the dying stages.

"She'd won five in a row, so I was feeling the pressure," Dettori said. "She's a buzzy little filly who just wants to get on with it, but she's all heart."

The Goodwood Cup (Eng-II) produced the result everyone wanted when veteran Persian Punch outbattled 3-year-old Double Honour after two miles. Double Honour, receiving 18 pounds, drove to the lead three furlongs out but that gave Richard Quinn time to gather Persian Punch and they regained the lead inside the quarter-pole to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Trainer David Elsworth couldn't hold back the tears as Jeff Smith's 8-year-old finally got his name on a major cup--he had been beaten in three previous Goodwood Cups and five Ascot Gold Cups, this year by a head.

Smith said: "This is what racing's about, these wonderful horses that give you everything. With luck we've got one more year with him, but as soon as he tells us he's had enough he'll be out in the paddocks and will have a smashing time."