Unibet Stewards’ Cup Class2 Handicap 6f Goodwood Saturday

goodwood guruWith 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 oddsguruCharlie 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

John Gray

Unibet Stewards’ Cup Handicap 6f Goodwood Saturday

First run in 1840, a race with a maximum field of 28 runners, racing downhill for the first two furlongs, resembling something like the cavalry charge at Balaclava, can seem something of a lottery, but surprisingly, with some pretty strong trends, winner finding hasn’t been impossible, and 16 of the last 20 runners have been returned at odds of 14/1 or less. While 2 of the last 3 renewals have been won by 3yo’s, (Magical Memory

2015 and Dancing Star 2016) they have been the only two of the Classic generation to succeed since Danetime in 1997. Of the more mature contenders, last year’s winner, the 7yo Lancelot Du Lac, was the only Victor older than six, since the 8yo Sikari’s Son won in 1995, so with just three 6yo’s winning in the last forty years, the 4 and 5yo’s have clearly been having the best of the argument. The last animal to win twice was

Skydiver, fifty years ago, which makes Lancelot Du Lac and Dancing Star’s chances of a repeat, look even more difficult. None of Saturday’s handlers have managed to win more than once, but the Malton Maestro Richard Fahey wouldn’t be doing it out of turn if his son of Oasis Dream, Growl, who has been placed 4th in the last two renewals managed to get his head in front.

He was only beaten 1L racing off a mark of 109 last year, when badly drawn in stall 8, and was similarly placed behind Dancing Star the previous year. He ran well last time, finishing 4th/14 in a York Handicap last Saturday (soft) and could be well suited by the likely faster ground on Saturday, ( finished 2 3/4L behind Harry Angel on Good/Firm in last year’s Group1 July Cup). 10lbs lower than last year he looks well handicapped and connections will be hoping it’s third time lucky

The Paul D’Arcy trained Spring Loaded, has won 11 of his 36 starts, 8 of them on The AW and the 6yo put in an excellent effort last time when winning over the minimum trip at Ascot three weeks ago. He won easily by 2L from Poyle Vinnie, racing off a mark of 100 on Good/Firm ground and with the considerable advantage of having Ryan Moore in the plate on Saturday has plenty to recommend him. However lack of form on a downhill track, (19th/27 in the 2016 renewal in his only attempt) and a 7lbs higher mark tempers enthusiasm.

Andrew Balding won with the 3yo, Magical Memory three years ago and following Foxtrot Lady’s battling victory at Newmarket 4weeks ago he must fancy his chances of repeating the trick. As a half sister to the 2016 winner, Dancing Star, and from the same family as the brilliant Lochsong the 3yo is certainly bred for the job. She is 8lbs higher on Saturday putting her on a mark of 102 but it will be very surprising if in the fullness of time she doesn’t merit a higher mark.

The Clive Cox trained 4yo, Tis Marvellous, has only won 2 of his 13 starts but showed the last twice that Saturday’s test could be right up his street.

clive cox odds

Trainer Clive Cox surely has a fantastic chance with Tis Marvellous

He finished 5th/15, 1 1/2L behind the winner, Saturday’s opponent, Gifted Master, following an 80 day break in May, and 7 weeks later put in an excellent effort when finishing 4th/28, 1L behind the winner, Bacchus, in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot. He meets Bacchus on 3lbs better terms at the weekend and this winner of the Group2, Prix Robin Pappin as a 2yo, looks a danger to all.

The transfer of the 6yo, Aces, from the French yard of JE Hammond in April to Ian Williams has seen a revival in the son of Dark Angel’s fortunes. 3rd on his seasonal and stable debut in May, he followed up with a facile victory in a 16 runner Class2 Epsom Handicap 3 week’s later, off a mark of 87, and last time won over 7f at Headquarters off an 8lbs higher mark. He is only 2lbs higher on Saturday and is well worth considering for a yard that continues in such good form.

Since Sprint Maestro, Robert Howell (won with the 4yo Intrinsic in 2014) took charge of Blue De Vega in October 2017, the 5yo has been mostly campaigned at 5f, and the son of Lope De Vega put in a sterling effort last time when winning an Ascot Class2, 5f heat off a mark of 93. He is only 4lbs higher on Saturday, and having won twice over 7f, including at Group3 level, as a 2yo when trained in Ireland, plus having finished 3rd in the 2016 Irish 2000gns, it would suggest that Saturday’s trip could prove ideal. It will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end at the weekend.

Selection : ‘Tis Marvellous.

E.W. : Blue De Vega. Growl.

John Gray

Betting Tips Qatar Stewards Cup Handicap 6f Goodwood Saturday

There is little doubt that we saw a really exceptional filly win last week's King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and if reproducing this level of form in the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in the Autumn, Enable looks a certainty. However let's not forget what a fine race our E.W. selection, Ulysses ran to finish second on ground that didn't suit. He proved that twelve furlongs was well within his compass, but just found the concession of fourteen pounds to the outstanding filly beyond him. He is worth bearing in mind for the 12f Breeders Cup Turf at Del Rey, California, in November, a race he was fourth in last year. He is much more the finished article now, and with good ground almost assured, looks good value at the 7/1 available.

Saturday's cavalry charge, down the hill at Goodwood, provides a totally different challenge. It's about speed, ruggedness and toughness to handle the hurly burly of the twenty eight runner field, and ability to act on the eccentric track. Three year olds have won the last two renewals, but over the last thirty years, the four and five year old brigade have had the best of the argument, and one that catches the eye is current market leader Projection.

He ran a great race in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot, where drawn 28, he won the contest on the stand side, but was beaten 1/2L and a Hd by the winner and runner up, both of whom were drawn low on the far side. A winner on an easy surface (won on Gd-Sft Salisbury), he proved his ability to handle the track, when despite a distinctly troubled passage in last year's consolation race over course and distance, he was only beaten 2 1/2L, finishing fifth behind Hoof It off a mark of 103, where he was sent off the 11/2fav under Ryan Moore. A year older he is only two pounds higher on Saturday, and trained by Roger Charlton, who sent out Harmonic Way (1999), Patavellian (2003), and Genki (2009) to win, has to be on the short list.

The runner up in the Wokingham was the Saeed bin Suroor trained 4yo, Steady Pace, and the son of Dark Angel was stepped up to 7f three weeks ago where he ran well to finish third at Newmarket, but didn't seem to quite get home. Back over six furlongs he has to be feared but with plenty of rain forecast his ability to handle easy ground has to be taken on trust.

There are no such worries about the Willie Haggas (pictured above) trained Raucous, and as his talented trainer has already sent out the winner on two previous occasions, he certainly knows what is required. The 4yo son of Dream Ahead was an excellent third in this last year off a mark of 102 when only beaten 1 1/4L and he looked set for a successful campaign when winning at Chelmsford on his seasonal debut in April. Things haven't gone his way since, and he was a disappointing 11/2 favourite for the Wokingham. However his 4th on soft ground in a Newbury Group3 last time, where he had little room when mounting a challenge two furlongs out, wasn't too bad, and his proven track form and ability to handle soft conditions could prove potent weapons on Saturday.

The David O'Meara trained Edward Lewis disappointed three weeks ago when well beaten over 5f at Ascot, but had put up a respectable effort when finishing 6th in the Wokingham, and prior to that ran a fine race when beaten less than a length in "The Dash" down Epsom's roller coaster five furlongs. Badly drawn in stall 11 he was hampered over 1f out but ran on strongly in the hands of claimer Josh Doyle. Another who should be suited by the track and who handles soft ground, this 4yo son of Kyllachy will have the excellent Daniel Tudhope taking over steering duties from young Doyle and is one to keep on the right side of.

For a horse who has been successful at Group3 level and continues to be competitive in the Grade, the 6yo Aeolus doesn't look badly treated on a mark of 103. He ran well when beaten a neck by the useful Mythmaker at Haydock in May, and again performed with credit last time, finishing 4th in a Newcastle Group3 (A.W.) where he would have been closer but for being short of room when making his challenge two furlongs out. An infrequent contender in these big handicaps, he was a respectable 9th in last year's Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of 107. With proven ability on soft ground he is a big price and is worth considering.

The David Simcock trained Polybius hasn't won since 2015 but has been a model of consistency in his last three races. Rested after a good third at Meydan in February he was only beaten a length when fourth from a high draw (nk behind Projection) in the Wokingham, and again ran well last time when beaten a length by Saturday's opponent Danzeno, whom he meets on 6lbs better terms. However he will need the track to dry out (which at the time of writing seems unlikely) as he was well beaten the only time he has run on anything slower than good.

Selection : Raucous

E.W. : Edward Lewis

John Gray

Kodi Bear Fancied For Celebration Mile

Goodwood

Kodi Bear is a rapidly improving animal and has a terrific chance in the Celebration Mile.

Inaugurated as a Group3 event in 1967, it was elevated to it’s present status in 1977 and features most of the top milers of the last four and a half decades, including the mighty Brigadier Gerard, Mark of Esteem, and Ravens Pass on its roll of honour. The classic generation have been the most successful age group, collecting in thirty two of the fourty seven renewals since its inception. Of Saturday’s trainers, only John Gosden has previously hit the back of the net, (Mutathir, 1998 and Ravens Pass, 2008) but Roger Charlton,represented by Captain Cat at the weekend, has had two placed from only three runners in the past decade. David Simcock,s only runner over the same period was placed, and James Fanshawe has had one placed from four attempts.

The Gosden runner this time is the 3yo Richard Pankhurst, and he will be trying to emulate his sire Ravens Pass. On only his second racecourse appearance, at Royal Ascot in June last year, he looked an outstanding prospect, when beating the very useful Toscanini by nearly four lengths, earning a rating of 116. He hasn’t been seen since, but coming from this yard, a fourteen months absence may be no bar to success. However with the weekends weather outlook in mind, it is worth remembering that his sires offspring much prefer top of the ground conditions, and a waiting brief is advised.

The patriarch of the Hills clan, Barry, won the race three times in the eighties and nineties, is unrepresented in this years renewal, but son Charles, who is having such an outstanding season, holds a strong hand with the 3yo Dutch Art colt, Dutch Connection, and the 4yo Cable Bay. Both have strong course form so the idiosyncratic track shouldn’t pose a problem to either, but soft ground would probably be a negative for the three year old. As the ground, at the time of writing is soft and the meteorological forecast is changeable, the stables best chance may lie with Cable Bay. He was probably given too much to do when held up in midfield in the 7f Hungerford Stakes three weeks ago, and finished fourth, but a reproduction of his run in the 1m Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May would make him a serious contender. Held up out the back by Jamie Spencer, he ran on well in the final furlong, finishing fifth about a length and a half behind the top class Night Of Thunder. One for the shortlist!

Another trainer enjoying a good season is Clive Cox, and his 3yo colt Kodi Bear is a rapidly improving animal. Having finished second in the Group1 Dewhurst Stakes in his last race as a 2yo, he was all the rage on his belated reappearance in a listed race at Windsor at the end of June, but had to work quite hard to collect on the good to firm ground. Thrown in at the deep end in a Gp1 at Chantilly a fortnight later, he was well beaten, but may have found the race coming too soon. Given a four and a half week break, he destroyed a decent field in a Sailsbury Gp3 three weeks ago. This progressive colt will handle soft conditions at the weekend and looks the one to beat.

Olly Stevens’ 4yo colt, Lightning Spear is by pivotal so will appreciate any easing of conditions on Saturday, a point emphasised by his staying on fourth in a Gp1 in testing conditions at Deauville three weeks ago. Only his fourth start on turf, he stayed on well going down by 1 1/2L, 1 1/2L, Nse, to Esoterique, Territories, and Wild Chief. He is another on an upward curve, and given holding ground at the weekend could well be in the mix.

Selection: Kodi Bear.

E.W. : Lightning Spear.

Stewards Cup Betting Tips 6f Goodwood Saturday

Magical Memory

Magical Memory is a sprinter going places, and it would be no surprise if he becomes the first of his generation since Danetime in 1997 to lift the cup.

I hope you were on last week’s E.W. selection in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Postponed. What a great ride from Andrea Atzeni, undoubtedly one of the most talented pilots riding at the moment. He exploited the Cumani colt’s reserves of stamina and courage to get back up in the shadow of the post and won by the proverbial nose. Speed rather than stamina is the prerequisite for Saturday’s test, and Charlie Hills’ yard which is doing so well with its sprinters this year is the first port of call.

His 4yo Tanzeel, who won with such authority on the Knavesmire last week is of obvious interest with a 6lbs penalty, but is not a definite runner, so perhaps the one to concentrate on is his 3yo Zebedee gelding, Magical Memory. While 3yo winners of the Stewards Cup are something of a rarity in recent years, this can be put down to the paucity of qualifiers in this age group, something that is not a problem for the very progressive Hills 3yo. He was hugely impressive in his last race, a £100,000 Cl2 handicap at Newmarket, which he took in very taking fashion by 2L, earning him a rating of 102, and comfortably qualifying him for Saturday’s contest. Magical Memory is a sprinter going places, and it would be no surprise if he becomes the first of his generation since Danetime in 1997 to lift the cup. One slight caveat would be that all his wins have come on tracks with a stiff uphill finish and it remains to be seen how he copes with Goodwood’s downhill helter skelter course, ( he finished 6th of 12 behind Son of Africa on his only course appearance ). However he seemed to cope well on the Newmarket July course, the early part of which is downhill, so perhaps any concern is misplaced and he is shortlisted.

Roger Charlton has won the race three times, so certainly knows what is required. Two of his three winners have been with 5yo’s, and he is represented by another of that generation, Huntsmans Close on Saturday. Unfortunately he got loose before the Wokingham Stakes, for which he had been strongly fancied, at Royal Ascot, and had to be withdrawn, but did redeem himself a week later when comfortably winning a competitive affair at Windsor. A winner of the Ayr Silver Cup he is very much at home in the hurly burly of these big handicaps and is another for the short list with his nice racing weight of 9st2lbs.

If getting into the race, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s 4yo, Direct Times, would be of considerable interest. Very lightly campaigned, he has only run five times, and has won three of them, last time under Saturday’s pilot, the very promising apprentice Tom Marquand. They easily won a Cl4 Newmarket handicap six weeks ago, carrying the steadier of 9st9lbs. With just 8st2lbs, (including Marquand’s 5lbs claim) on his back, Direct Times will think he’s loose, so although Saturday’s contest represents a huge step up in class, he is seriously considered.

Beaten less than 2L in a class2 5f Ascot handicap last time, and a similar distance in a very competitive 5f heat at the Curragh prior to that, Mike Murphy’s 5yo Discussiontofollow now returns to what is probably his optimum trip in a race that he finished 6th in last year, so is of definite interest.

Richard Fahey’s Tatlisu was backed in to 8/1 for the Wokingham, but disappointed badly, finishing 24th of 25. He ran much better last time off the same Mark (97) as Ascot, finishing 2nd in a Cl2 handicap at Hamilton. Racing off the same mark again at the weekend, and at a course where on his only other appearance he performed well, it would be no surprise at all to see his uber shrewd trainer taking another trophy back to Malton.

Dean Ivory’s 7yo gelding Tropics has been plying his trade at the top level, and indeed went as close to winning in this grade as you can without actually doing so in the July Cup last time. However his rating of 113 gives him a burden of 9st13lbs to carry on Saturday. As no animal, apart from Hoof It, who managed to win with the welter burden of 10st in 2011, has carried more than 9st10lbs in the past thirty seven years, the super game Ivory gelding is reluctantly passed over.

Selection : Magical Memory

E.W. : Huntsmans Close