No messing with Johan in Coral Golden Mile

Horse Racing | Press Article 17/04/24

Jack Channon produced a noteworthy training performance as Johan (25/1) returned from 293 days off the track to win the Coral Golden Mile.

James Doyle managed to get last year’s Lincoln winner into a prominent position from his wide draw [18] and, in a race where not much got involved from off the pace, he was perfectly positioned to kick and hold on gamely by half a length.

Charlie Johnston was responsible for runner-up The Gatekeeper (14/1) and third home Dutch Decoy (11/1), with early leader Darkness (50/1) holding on for fourth.

Channon said: “It has been a bit of a long road since the Lincoln last year. We unearthed a little bit of an issue Johan had in his back midway through last summer. We tried a few different things, but thanks to our brilliant vets at home, Charlie Schreiber in particular, we came up with a solution for it. We got it done in the spring and all summer he has been absolutely starting to just show himself to be the old horse.

“Coming into this week we sort of pin-pointed this race and thought this was going to be the perfect place to start, then when we got 18 I thought, ‘Oh God, here we go’. He’s a very, very talented horse and I was delighted to see him do that.

“To be able to produce it on the big days, I know I keep saying it, but Alana who rides him every day at home – she has done an amazing job on him, as have all the guys who looked after him through that period where he was injured. Dad [Mick Channon] has done it for 30 years, and to be able to prove to everyone that you can do it as well, it is a massive monkey off the back.

“Dad tells me when I’m wrong all the time, basically! He’s an integral part. I know I keep saying it, but that was a massive team performance from everyone at West Ilsley. Johan hasn’t been the easiest to train and to produce him on a day like that was pretty special.”

Doyle said: “Jack Channon rang my agent about a month ago and said, ‘keep an eye out – we are fully aware you could be drawn in the car park and it will be a waste of time..’, but that was pretty indicative of him.

"Johan is a very good horse on his day. He has been doing some good work at home, the ground conditions were perfect for him, and then the draw came out and we got 18. We were at the mercy of how the race unfolded early – we didn't think there would be a lot of pace, but he's a very straightforward horse so we were able to pop out, slide over, and we didn't use up too much petrol early.

“It was just a case of him being a bit ring-rusty under pressure – I thought I would go away and win easily, but he just took his eye off the ball and I had to be pretty firm with him. He responded well.

"Goodwood is all about luck. Of course, there is an element of skill and sometimes you make the right move and sometimes you make the wrong one. You see quite a few of the lads through the week on good rides that haven't gone their way – it's easy for your head to drop but you have to remember this track is very difficult.

"I have seen Richard Hughes, an absolute master of this place, come here and have awful weeks. There was no better man than him riding around here, but he always said take all the luck, you need luck and be patient and brave.”

Charlie Johnston said of The Gatekeeper and Dutch Decoy: “To be fair, Jack [Channon] said to me two days ago that he had Johan in unbelievable form, so fair play to him. Both have run their hearts out. I had doubts about The Gatekeeper’s stamina in this ground, but he has hit the line strong. Dutch Decoy, they just got away from him between the three and two-furlong marker, and in another 50 yards, I think they would have been first and second. That's the way it is!"

The Gatekeeper’s jockey Joe Fanning said: “I probably should have stayed on the rail – I moved and then it has opened up. I did not think it would and it has probably cost me half a length. He has run a good race."

Dutch Decoy’s rider Frankie Dettori said: “He has run super. He has finished third and these big handicaps are hard to win."

3.00pm Coral Golden Mile (Heritage Handicap)
1 John (Jon & Julia Aisbitt) Jack Channon 6-9-08 James Doyle 25/1
2 The Gatekeeper (Middleham Park Racing XIV) Charlie Johnston 4-8-11 Joe Fanning 14/1
3 Dutch Decoy (Owners Group 052) Charlie Johnston 6-8-12 Frankie Dettori 11/1
20 ran 5/1F Lattam (15th)

Jack Channon – 1st Qatar Goodwood Festival winner
James Doyle – 19th Qatar Goodwood Festival winners