With a maximum field of 28 runners, charging down Goodwood’s tricky undulations, one could be forgiven for thinking that The Stewards’ Cup is the ultimate “Pin Job” but rather surprisingly, winner finding hasn’t been impossible, as indicated by the fact that 15 of the last 20 victors have been returned at odds of 14/1 or less, and one currently trading at around those odds is the David Baron trained, Gunmetal.
A 6yo son of Clodovil, he has won 6 of his 24 starts and was quite impressive when winning the 20 runner Great St Wilfrid Handicap over Ripons’ undulations last August, where he had Saturday’s opponent, Growl (placed in The Stewards’ for the last 3 years) 2 3/4L back in 3rd. He ran a decent race last time, finishing 6/26 in The Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot off Saturday’s mark of 103, but does appear to have it all to do off a mark that is 6lbs higher than he has ever won from in the past. However, he should be well suited by a race like The Stewards, and his talented trainer has won this twice, albeit back in the Nineties.
The Declan Carroll trained Justanotherbottle was only caught in the shadow of the post in last year’s renewal when losing out by the shortest of short heads to Gifted Master, and thanks to some judicious placing of the 5yo, he gets into Saturday’s contest on a 4lbs lower mark. Declan, who trains at Malton, wouldn’t be the best known of the Yorkshire trainers but plenty from this neck of the woods have landed The Stewards’ in the past, and he is certainly going to war with a well handicapped horse.
Newmarket handler, Roger Varian has never won Saturday’s heat, but has two likely looking candidates this time in the 4yo, Flavius Titus, and the 6yo Spanish City. The former has been campaigned until this season, mostly at 7f, and his overall record is 4 wins from 14 starts, but since being dropped to 6f this term, his figures read an impressive 2/3. He won his last race, a Newmarket Class2, 8 weeks ago, in workmanlike fashion off a mark of 95, and looks nicely handicapped on a 4lbs higher mark at the weekend. Well bred, Flavius Titus is by Lethal Force, out of the mare Furbelow, which makes him a half brother to this year’s winner of the Group1 Commonwealth Cup, Advertise, and it certainly wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he gave Roger his first Stewards Cup.
Stable companion, Spanish City was 3rd, 1 1/4L behind his stable companion in that Newmarket race and is 3lbs better off on Saturday. He seems to be attracting plenty of interest in the markets so has to be considered, but his best form does seem to be over a furlong further.
Charlie Hills won with the 3yo, Magical Memory 4 years ago and will be hoping to land a second Stewards with another from the Classic generation, Khaadem. The son of Dark Angel ran well last time to finish 2nd in a Newbury Group3, 1 3/4L behind the German outsider Waldpfad, (has won at Group3 level in his home country). This was a decent performance but Saturday presents an entirely different test and unlike Magical Memory who had raced 11 times before his Goodwood success Khadeem has only had the six runs and races off a mark 5 lbs higher than his erstwhile stable companion.
The Robert Cowell trained 6yo, Raucous, has struck up a very happy partnership with the seriously upwardly mobile young apprentice, Cieren Fallon. Their record from 5 starts reads, 2/12, 2/6 6/9 4/26 1/7 and the last two are of particular interest. They finished 4th at odds of 50/1, 2L behind Cape Byron off a mark of 99 in the 26 runner Wokingham and comfortably defied a 1 pound higher mark when winning a Yarmouth Class2 24 days ago. A 6lbs penalty makes life difficult but Raucous is a Course and distance winner, Mr Cowell trained the winner 5 years ago, and young Fallons 5 lbs claim could prove invaluable.
If the rains come, Jedd O’Keeffe’s Air Raid would be one to be interested in. The 4yo son of Ravens Pass has made pretty dramatic improvement this term and is now rated 17lbs higher than he was when making his seasonal debut in May. He won Hamilton Parks Class2 Stewards Cup on soft ground 15 days ago off a mark of 95 by 1 1/4L and 1 1/4L from two 100 rated animals so doesn’t look too badly treated on 101 at the weekend. The key to him is the going and connections wouldn’t want to see the word Firm anywhere in the description.
The David O’Meara trained Summerghand made an excellent start to his season when running Flavius Titus to a neck at Newmarket in April and meets the winner on 5lbs better terms on Saturday. Both were making their seasonal debuts and the winner has
Improved since but Summerghand hasn’t gone backwards either and it could be close between them.
Selection. : Flavius Titus
EW. : Summerghand. Justanotherbottle