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Friday, 14 December, 2018

It's a scorcher! Red-hot Stewards' Cup should match the weather

The Stewards' Cup: a thrilling 75 seconds
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The Unibet Stewards' Cup (3.40), among Britain's signature sprint handicaps, takes centre stage as one of the busiest racing weeks of the year – on both sides of the Irish Sea – winds down.

Moving the Nassau Stakes from the Saturday to the Thursday of Glorious Goodwood has, some argue, weakened the weekend offering, but it does allow the spotlight to be shone on a breed of horses more accessible to blue-collar workers rather than the bluebloods who contest the fillies' feature.

Stewards' Cup card

The Stewards' Cup dividend is massive with £155,625 to the winner, but whoever that is will have to overcome 27 rivals in one of the calendar's most thrilling 75 seconds.

Goodwood also hosts the £150,000 Qatar Gordon Stakes (1.50), although a more apt name might be the Sir Michael Stoute Stakes given a certain trainer's domination of a race that often produces a star – and one he has landed a record ten times.

William Hill St Leger entry Sun Maiden, a filly, represents the Newmarket master this time round.

On what is set to be a baking day on the Downs, dress codes are expected to be relaxed slightly.

Sam Hanson, who handles PR for Goodwood, said: "Due to the hot weather we relaxed the dress code from Wednesday to allow guests of the Gordon Enclosure to wear tailored shorts. In the Richmond the jacket rule has been relaxed.

"We're encouraging all of our guests to wear plenty of sun cream and stay hydrated, with free water available in all bars."

While Goodwood ends, it is the penultimate day of Galway's week-long marathon, which has the €100,000 Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle (4.45) as its headline event.

With Uradel, Riven Light and Galway Hurdle hero Sharjah, the week has pretty much belonged to Willie Mullins, who fields just the eight runners in Saturday's centrepiece.

Unique test for Kawada

In a recent feature with the Racing Post, Australian rider Hugh Bowman said there was nowhere in the world like Goodwood. Now it's the turn of leading Japanese jockey Yuga Kawada.

He partnered his first winner in Britain at Redcar on Wednesday and has five rides on the Sussex Downs as he aims to get to grips with one of the world's most unique venues.

Full Goodwood card

Kawada, who is spending the summer in Newmarket with Roger Varian, has won Classics on Japanese A-listers Gentildonna, Harp Star and Makahiki, and also enjoyed top-level success on the classy Maurice, while many rate him the heir apparent to the legendary Yutaka Take.

Racegoers at Goodwood have the chance to spy his talents on Saturday afternoon when his mounts include the Varian-trained Atletico in the Stewards' Cup.

Kawada, who struck on Star Shield at Redcar, also rides two for Amanda Perrett and one each for Andrew Balding and Gary Moore, the straight-talking trainer whose grip of the Japanese language is unknown but not expected to be wide-ranging. However, Moore's son Ryan – who has enjoyed a few big paydays in the Far East – may have passed on some pointers.

D'Arcy dreaming big

Victory in the Stewards' Cup for Spring Loaded might not be a springboard to having 150 horses for Paul D'Arcy, but no-one would begrudge one of the game's good guys a Saturday strike that would also likely be cheered by plenty of punters.

Last year's Portland winner is among the leading contenders and the Newmarket-based trainer likes his chances.

See how Spring Loaded struck at Ascot last time

"He's been very well since he won over five furlongs at Ascot last month," said D'Arcy. "I think six furlongs is his best trip but he hasn't had the ground until this year. I thought he was unlucky in the Wokingham when he got stopped at a crucial moment and couldn't get a run anywhere – and that's game over for a sprinter."

D'Arcy, a Classic winner in the Irish 2,000 Guineas in 2003 with Indian Haven, trains just seven horses, and would relish making his mark even though, he reckons, things wouldn't change. 

"It would be a very big day for a small yard like ours if he won," he added. "I don't ever think we've been given the credit for what we do. We're punching well above our weight and achieve at the highest standards.

"I think it's a bit of fashion, perception and the fact I haven't been able to put myself about at the sales for one reason or another in the last 12 months, but I don't know. We do a good job and are just overlooked; everybody wants to be with Richard Hannon or Richard Fahey."

Surely Stewards' Cup success would make a difference?

"We'd get some headlines, but I'm not sure it would alter anything," said D'Arcy, who has booked a certain Ryan Moore for his challenger.

"I trained a Guineas winner with 15 horses and it didn't make any difference. I'm very lucky to hold on to Spring Loaded because usually we sell them to Hong Kong – that's how we survive.

"I think I've one of the best horses in the race, probably one of the best jockeys in the world, and I hope I've got one of the best draws. The negatives? The other 27 runners!"

Also on the box . . . 

Newmarket muscles in on the ITV coverage with Goodwood with two races from the July course screened on the network.

The first is the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Chalice Stakes (2.05), which Seal Of Approval won in 2013 when it was staged at Newbury before graduating to Group 1 glory later that year on Champions Day.

Crimson Rosette, who carries the Cracksman colours of Anthony Oppenheimer, is among those on duty as she aims to give recently married trainer Charlie Fellowes his first winner since tying the knot.

Charlie Fellowes: trainer has recently got married

ITV also shows the European Bloodstock News British EBF Fillies' Nursery Handicap (2.40), in which Ginger Nut aims to swell the £122,925 she earned in last month's Weatherbys Super Sprint.

Chelmsford is never far away when good prize-money is mentioned and the Essex track provides around £130,000 for its eight races, which include runners from the powerhouse stables of Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden.

Chelmsford card

Meanwhile, there is $200,000up for grabs in the Grade 3 Fasig-Tipton Waya Stakes (11.22pm BST) at Saratoga in upstate New York, which Michael Bell chases with Queen Of Connaught, a winner at Newmarket in June.

Willie come good?

With Derby hero Masar on the sidelines and Saxon Warrior's 2,000 Guineas triumph becoming a somewhat distant memory, there might be a vacancy for a star three-year-old, so make sure you cast one eye on Doncaster's card, where big-money buy Willie John runs in the Unison and LV Liverpool Victoria Car Insurance Novice Stakes (3.30).

Watch Willie John strike at Yarmouth last year

A ready novice winner at Yarmouth for William Haggas last season, the son of Dansili and Group 1 winner Izzi Top – and therefore a half-brother to the smart Dreamfield – was in the ownership of under-fire businessman Markus Jooste and the China Horse Club, but was picked up by Roger Varian on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum for an eye-watering 1.9 million gns in February.

Roger Varian: interesting runner in Willie John

He was talked of as a potential Guineas colt but missed the Classic and has been absent since.

Mulvany eyes more Galway glory with Silver Service

Mick Mulvany has had his string in rare old form this season and on Tuesday the trainer fulfilled a long-held ambition to have a winner at the Galway festival when Premier League landed a gamble.

The son of an astute businessman and lottery winner, Mulvany is hoping for more Galway success on Saturday when Silver Service, a winner of the first nursery of the year on Oaks weekend at the Curragh, bids to follow up off 3lb higher in a 7f nursery [3.05].

He said: “She did it nicely at the Curragh, and while she’s up another 3lb there’s no point crying over spilt milk, and she’s going to be trying for her life again. I think she’s got a very good chance."

He added: “To have winners at Galway is special. To get a winner anywhere is great, but my father has been coming to Galway all of his life so it was great to break our duck at the place earlier in the week as we had been trying for a long time. Hopefully we can get another.”


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"I think I've one of the best horses in the race, probably one of the best jockeys in the world and I hope I've got one of the best draws

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