We come once again to that great conundrum that is the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood. A cavalry charge over 6 furlongs starting on a very slight incline and then from the 5 furlong marker mostly downhill to the finish. So, let’s take a look at the race and some of the likely candidates to take home the £155k first prize.
The race ‘trends’ tell us that all the last 15 winners had already won over the 6 furlong distance. That rues out just five of today’s field – Justanotherbottle, Haddaf, Atletico, Merhoob and Swift Approval. History also tells us that it is unusual for the winner to come from anything higher than stall 24. This year, there is a fair bit of early pace in those stalls, with Reputation, Watchable and Gifted Master all liking to get on with it and if we add Tupi, drawn 26, and Barrington, drawn 24, to those three pace forcers, we eliminate another five from our ‘possibles’ list.
But let’s whittle a bit further. None of the 52 horses in the last 10 years to have come into the race having run their last race at less than today’s 6 furlongs have won, and only 6 have placed. To those already ‘eliminated,’ on this ‘up-in-distance’ factor we can also take out Spring Loaded, Pettochside, Quench Dolly, Open Wide and Poyle Vinnie. The field is starting to look a bit more manageable now. A few more who will find it hard to win based on traditional trends are Lancelot Du Lac (age 6, where winners are almost always younger) and Eirene, Marie Of Lyon and Glenamoy Lad who all did not run in a Class 2 race last time out.
The race does not often fall to an outsider, so let’s take a look at the market principals which include a couple who have been on my radar for the race for a while. First of all, the current favourite Foxtrot Lady. She is a half-sister to today’s owner J C Smith and trainer Andrew Balding’s Dancing Star, the winner of the race 2 years ago. Foxtrot Lady first really caught the eye at the end of May when winning a 6f Chester handicap by 2.5 lengths from stall 9 of 9. Given Chester’s low draw bias at sprint distances, that is no mean feat. Foxtrot Lady has won again twice since then, the latest being by the minimum margin in a 6f Class 2 handicap at the recent Newmarket July Festival. She is also a 3 year-old, and whilst there have not been too many of that age in the race recently, they have performed well with 2 wins and 3 places from just 18 runners.
The other horse I have had an eye on for the race is Growl. He has form in the race, finishing fourth in 2016 of a mark of 99, and fourth again last year off a mark of 109. He comes into the race today back on that 99 mark. In all honesty his form over the last year or so has not been particularly noteworthy. The piece of form that does give me hope that he is coming back to his best is his 4th in the Skybet Dash at York a week ago. That race was dominated by horses drawn low, so Growl did well from stall 16 to attain that 4th spot.
27 runner handicaps are probably not the best races to be investing too heavily in, but I will be having a small interest in both Foxtrot Lady (2 points win at 6/1) and Growl (1 point each-way at 14/1). Good luck with whatever you chose to play in the race!