Football has the World Cup, boxing the heavyweight championship of the world. Tennis lovers adore Wimbledon and cricket fans have the Ashes to look forward to.
UK and Irish horse racing enthusiasts are not without their big days out either, with the likes of Royal Ascot, Cheltenham Festival and Glorious Goodwood marked in the diary from the turn of the year.
The pinnacle of the sport of kings is, without doubt, Group One flat racing – and rightly so. Reserved for the big occasions, it brings the kind of prize money that attracts the biggest names in the sport, including top trainers, riders with ambitions of being named champion jockey and, of course, the runners themselves.
Ask any horse lover for their top-five animal of all time and, without question, Frankel will feature in just about every list.
Why? Well, the multi-award-winning colt finished his career unbeaten from 14 starts and he consistently won the biggest and best Group One races, from announcing his arrival when bagging the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in 2010 to signing off with the Champion Stakes medal in 2012.
Sports fans are waiting patiently on the next wonder horse to emerge and, although there’s currently a few waiting in the wings who fancy a pop, some even boasting the Frankel bloodline, it’ll take something special to fill those shoes.
His Group One honours included the Queen Anne Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, twice.
The latter is one of the main fixtures on the Glorious Goodwood meet, which is scheduled for a 2018 renewal between Tuesday 31st July and Saturday 4th August.
The vastly popular racing spectacle is a real hit with fans, both dedicated and casual, with the five days playing host to no less than three of the UK’s 36 annual Group One flat races. The perfect stage for a young pretender to prove their orth.
One of the biggest betting events of the year Glorious Goodwood has something for everyone, including big price winners aplenty. Let’s look at the three Group One races and what clues punters can take from previous runnings.
What better place to start than with the race won by the great Frankel back-to-back in 2011 and 2012? That makes him the one-mile contest’s most successful runner, ever.
Will that be surpassed? Here Comes When tasted glory in 2017 for Jim Crowley and Andrew Balding, holding off odds-on favourite Ribchester by a neck in the closing stages despite carrying the weight of a 20/1 price tag.
It was a breath-taking finish but that’s nothing new in a race that was first run way back in 1878. 2016 champion The Gurkha beat silver medallist Galileo Gold by a neck before retiring with a record of two wins and three placed efforts from five starts.
Solow landed the cheque in 2015, ½ a length ahead of Arod and Kingman was only a length better than Toronado at the finish 12 months previously. If you plan on betting on the Sussex Stakes, the stats would suggest a tight contest and wafer-thin winning distance. That’s worth keeping in mind.
Without Parole was a hot favourite in the ante-post betting for the 2018 Qatar Sussex Stakes and that came as no surprise to followers of the trends. First of all, the three-year-old colt has the Frankel bloodline coursing through his veins.
That’s more than enough to catch the attention of those happy to bet blind. He’s also trained by John Gosden who won this race in 2014 with Kingman. A perfect four-leg winning start to life as a racehorse certainly didn’t put anyone off either.
Without Parole goes with huge expectations but certainly appears to have the shoulders to carry the burden. Everyone connected to the sport hopes he’s the second coming. Too much to ask? We’ll see.
This competitive Group One flat is decided over two miles and can be traced back to 1812 when Shoestrings was etched into the history books.
More recent backers of the race have enjoyed their fair share of drama with Stradivarius beating pre-race favourite Big Orange by just shy of two lengths in 2017 off a thrilling 6/1.
The second was heading for a hat-trick having scored in 2015 and 2016 but a beaten favourite is certainly nothing new in the Goodwood Cup.
Big Orange won the race first time around off a 6/1 quote himself, beating the more fancied Quest For More who went off a 9/2 poke.
Kieran Fallon rode Cavalryman to the winner’s enclosure in 2014 at 5/1 with the favourite that day, Estimate, finishing last of the eight. Bettors who like to keep a close eye on the patterns will need no further encouragement to take a chance on an outsider winning the Goodwood Cup.
Other points of note in the race are jockey Jamie Spencer has won two of the last three renewals, but both were on the back of Big Orange. Frankie Dettori was in charge of the failed treble attempt.
A rare slip for the winner of the magnificent seven as he has ridden three Goodwood Cup champs in his career – Kayf Tara (1999), Schiaparelli (2009) and Opinion Poll (2011).
Since the latter got home, the Italian pilot posted 3-8-11-2. He's always worth a second look and he can never be written off at this level, but he has some way to go to match Lester Piggott’s bar of five race wins.
The final leg of three on Glorious Goodwood week that's often run on the Saturday. 1m 1f lies ahead of the pack and 2017 saw a jaw-dropping £600,000 prize pot divided up, with over £340,000 of that going to the winner.
That was Winter for the partnership of Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien who also came out on top the year before with Minding. At the line that was only Moore’s second Nassua Stakes win but it would be a brave backer who would bet against him adding to that.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien is a bit more familiar with the Goodwood winner’s circle as he has taken four: Minding (2016) and Winter (2017) after Peeping Fawn did the business in 2007 and Halfway To Heaven a year later.
The Irishman seems to enjoy a double. The all-time leading trainer remains Sir Henry Cecil on eight and it’ll be some time before we see that surpassed.
Strangely for the big meetings, and especially for Glorious Goodwood, the favourites show up well in the Nassau Stakes with the shortest odds winning three on the bounce - 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The shortest of them was Minding in 2016 when doing as expected off a tight 1/5. Marked like losing wasn’t an option, the talented filly had things a little more difficult than expected with runner-up Queens Trust getting within 1 ¼ lengths of an upset.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*