The Stewards’ Cup has thrown up yet more debate within horse racing this week.
The race itself is the usual wonderful, competitive fayre. 28 runners feature in the race on the last day of Glorious Goodwood with a prize pot of £250,000. So, what could the problem me?
The problem is that 64 horses were declared for the race, meaning 36 were balloted out. Of those, only 12 have been confirmed for the consolation race worth £50,000 at a time when owners and trainers say field sizes are decreasing based on prize money.
Some, then, are puzzled. The fact however that Windsor is allowed to stage a £75,000 race for similar types on Monday means this was always going to happen.
In any event, those to have made it into the Stewards’ Cup proper are all either crack handicappers or horses getting faster and better all the time. Whittling them down was tough, but these are our favoured six:
For us, Able Kane is definitely the best of those at big prices.
Available at around 33/1, Rod Millman’s runner gets in off a nice weight rated 93, has a good high draw and will be staying on when others begin withering.
In the last year or so Able Kane has won over 6½ furlongs, 7 furlongs and even 7½ furlongs two outings ago. He doesn’t lack pace though and is a danger to the big guns under Trevor Whelan.
Time will tell whether or not James Ferguson’s First Folio is drawn badly across in stall 4. There’s pace across the track of course, so it may yet not matter too much.
Ferguson oversaw a cracking Melbourne Cup trial for his Deauville Legend in the Gordon Stakes on Thursday and is flying.
Here, he has a four-year-old by Dark Angel who could be made for this, and whose form this year is excellent. First Folio was fifth of 19 behind Blackrod at Newmarket over five furlongs, was second in a Listed race at Windsor and last time was sixth of 26 in the Wokingham, beaten four lengths.
Ed Walker’s Great Ambassador looked like he was really going places last autumn when winning twice before finishing second in the Ayr Gold Cup.
He arguably hasn’t been as good since, but is coming back to himself now. Two weeks ago in fact, the five-year-old ran 3½ lengths behind Minzaal in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes, making his lofty mark of 106 look not too challenging if he improves a wee bit.
George Boughey is having a great old time of things and his Inver Park encapsulates that. The Pivotal gelding has won five from 15 so far, including all of this last three outings.
Inver Park’s latest win was in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot over seven furlongs, but he’s not short of pace at all having won over six previously at Windsor and Hamilton. Big shout.
Another newish trainer to have hit the ground running in recent times is Ed Bethell and the Yorkshire handler could be on for a big payday.
He has prepared Regional for this race, a former Richard Fahey horse with a smashing profile for a top-class six-furlong handicap.
Regional was very solid but without improving last season in three runs, being placed each time. This year however, after a pipe-opener at Newcastle, the four-year-old was a solid 6th over in Doha, sixth again in the Tokyo Trophy behind Mr Wagyu at Epsom and then second over 5f in a good race at Doncaster.
He is improving all the time, is learning what it takes at this level and now has the services of Ryan Moore up top, the booking of whom is a great move by the yard.
Roger Teal has handled some good sprinters recently and he has another one here in the shape of Whenthedealinsdone.
A winner in the five-furlong handicap at last year’s Glorious Goodwood, he has gone on and was in fact a good fifth behind Hurricane Ivor in last season’s Portland Handicap.
This trip is ideal now, we know he likes the course and he is a solid prospect.
Both Great Ambassador and Inver Park remain of interest in races of this nature, while Able Kane is way overpriced in our view and represents excellent each-way value.
The one with the nicest profile however is REGIONAL. He has plenty of speed, as evidenced by his solid five-furlong run recently, but clearly appreciates this trip.
He has run in hot handicaps, big fields and in the Middle East meaning we know he can handle the heat as well as the rough and tumble. Ryan Moore’s booking is another big positive.