Middleham-based handler Mark Johnston has made no secret of the fact that Glorious Goodwood is his favourite meeting of the year and the popular Scotsman struck for the second time in as many days in the opening race on day two of the fixture when the temperamental Hurricane Higgins put his very best foot forward to land a brave victory in the marathon Goodwood Stakes Handicap, writes Elliot Slater.
Johnston has spoken to horse racing betting news reporters and revealed he has been tearing his hair out trying to find the key to the four-year-old who hadn’t won in 11 races since make a successful racecourse bow on the Polytrack at Lingfield in January of last year before going on to be beaten just half a length in the Group 3 Lingfield Derby Trial four months later. The son of Hurricane Run’s form tailed off in the second half of last season, and although generally disappointing this term he had hinted that the old ability was still there but had developed an aversion to the starting stalls that placed his career on the Flat in doubt.
Johnston, knowing that the two-mile-five-furlong Goodwood Stakes is started by flag, specifically targeted the race once the horse’s stalls phobia became pronounced, and after jumping away on terms he travelled sweetly in mid-division for Joe Fanning before making powerful headway to take it up at the furlong marker then repel the challenges of both Defence of Duress and Never Can Tell in a typically tight Goodwood finish.
Victory under 9st 10lbs showed that Hurricane Higgins can carry plenty of weight, and he has a comfortable 8st 9lbs in the Betfred Ebor Handicap at York on August 25. Punters should be wary though with best racing odds of 16/1 in the ante-post market now until hearing from Johnston that he is confident his charge will go into the stalls and jump off with the field.