Qatar Stewards Cup Handicap 6f Goodwood Saturday – First run in its present format in 1840 the race has seen plenty of lightweights in the winners’ circle in the past, but recent renewals have seen a “classier” animal to the fore. Indeed all of the last ten winners were rated at least 95, and three of the last five had ratings over one hundred. An eight year old, three six year olds, and two three year olds have managed to get their heads in front in the last twenty years but the overwhelmingly successful age groups have been the four and five year olds.
David Nicholls with four previous winners on the board must fancy his chances of making it five with his vastly improved 5yo entire, Orion’s Bow. A winner of his last five races, he started the sequence on Newcastle’s All Weather track in May off a lowly 69, and completed the five timer a fortnight ago at Hamilton in the Scottish Stewards Cup off a mark of 97. He took it up inside the furlong marker and won by 3 1/4L from the very good yardstick Hoof It, (won the 2011 Stewards Cup carrying 10st). He races on Saturday off a 6lbs higher mark which seems fair, but a bigger concern would be very fast ground. By Pivotal he does like to get his toe in but has got plenty of form on Gd/Fm and Gd.
The Nicholls yard is also represented by the 6yo Kimberella and judging by his last time out win at York, is no back number. He was quite impressive winning this Class2 event on fast ground off a mark of 99 so Saturday’s 103 looks doable. He has no Goodwood form but was a most unlucky loser of Epsom’s “Dash” so the downhill track shouldn’t present any problems. Worth considering!
Roger Varian’s 5yo Double Up ran a fine race over 5f at Haydock in May where despite being hampered was only beaten 1 1/2L and 3/4L by Take Cover and Cotai Glory in a conditions event. He looked a very progressive animal last year winning three handicaps, the last of them off a mark of 98. His mark at the weekend of 105 does look quite tough but with form on the track, and a progressive profile, stepping up to 6f he is worth considering.
A course and distance winner at the beginning of June off a mark of 80, Andrew Balding’s 3yo filly Dancing Star has attracted market support. She was impressive three weeks ago at Headquarters winning off a mark of 96, so her new mark of 102 doesn’t look too bad, and she just might become the first 3yo filly since Sir Michael Stoute’s Autumn Sunset (8st2lbs) won in 1983.
Poyle Vinnie ran a great race to finish second in last years Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of love 103 and races on Saturday off a pound lower. Michael Appleby’s 6yo finished a respectable 3rd to Right Touch and Kimberella three weeks ago at Chester when apprentice ridden. Reunited with his usual pilot, Andrew Mullen, he is worth considering at a big price.
Sprint specialist, Robert Cowell’s 5yo has come in for plenty of support. He hasn’t won since his two year old days but showed the talent was still there when finishing second in this last year, and coming 4th in the Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of 102. His two runs this term have failed to catch the judges eye, but again racing off 102 and coming from this yard it would come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end.
Oddsguru’s E.W. Selection in last week’s International at Ascot Right Touch, was taken out to wait for this, so has to be of interest. Trained by Richard Fahey, he demonstrated his wellbeing three weeks ago when taking a Chester handicap from a poor draw off a mark of 95 and previously had run well over the Goodwood track last April off the same mark. In a 7f contest and apprentice ridden, he was beaten less than a length when finishing 4th but had been given an awful lot to do. Out the back with a furlong to run he finished best of all, so with Ryan Moore taking over steering duties it could be a different story at the weekend.
E.W. : Poyle Vinnie.