The Unibet Stewards Cup is a 6f race at 3.40 at Goodwood on Saturday, August 4th. Here we take a look at the main contenders and reveal the best bet.
Tis Marvellous is a Clive Cox trained four year old with some very useful form at two and three years old.
At two he peaked when easily winning a Group 2 in France over an extended five furlongs. As a three year old he then somewhat lost his way and continued the downward spiral with two unplaced efforts in Dubai earlier this year. However, he upped his game with a solid fifth over six furlongs in what is usually an informative handicap at Newmarket on Guineas day last May.
He then progressed again by following that up with a fine fourth of twenty eight in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot. Beaten just one length that day, he ran on strongly to the line. His yard has been in the winners of late and he will have been aimed specifically at this race.
If he can continue his recent return to form and maybe progress some more, then he has a big chance here.
This Peter Hedger (ex Roger Charlton) trained four year old son of Oasis Dream has won four of his lifetime twelve races.
Two of those wins have come this year when winning competitive handicaps over six furlongs at Windsor. He then stepped up with a strong finishing fifth in the Wokingham at Ascot and has been since aimed at the Unibet Stewards Cup.
At Ascot he may have been inconvenienced by his stall position away from the pace of the race which came up the middle of the track. It is also possible that he just wasn’t good enough that day. Eitherway, he continues to shape well and can run another big race here.
This Ed Vaughan trained son of Zebedee will have his supporters after a recent slamming of a twenty strong field in a valuable five furlong race at Ascot. Similar to his win in last years Portland Handicap at Doncaster, he quickened up smartly from the back to win going away.
However, he flopped in this race two years ago and was also soundly beaten twice in the Wokingham. None of this means he can”t win here, but there is a difference between a big field and a thirty strong Wokingham or Stewards Cup. When a horse has finished at best ninth in three attempts at these big ones, then I am happy to look elsewhere.
Winner of the Wokingham was the Brian Meehan trained Bacchus. The son of Kheleyf was making his seasonal bow on that occasion and followed it up with another solid effort, this time in a Group 3 at Newbury where he finished fourth behind Yafta.
He raced off 105 at Ascot but has been raised another five pounds to 110 and will likely be shouldered with top weight here. He is the type to surely go well again without winning as he may be vulnerable to a better handicapped horse lower in the weights.
Aces is a six year old gelding by Dark Angel who has been a revelation since the application of a tongue-strap and joining the impressive Ian Williams stable.
Previously with John Hammond in France and Charles Hills in Lambourn, he was unplaced in his first outing for Williams at Ascot last May. He then appeared at Epsom on Derby day and sporting the first time tongue-tie was a ready winner of a sixteen runner six furlong handicap. Settled out the back, he passed the entire field to win going away.
That was an impressive performance and he followed up with another good win at Newmarket over seven furlongs, winning with more in hand than the official margin of a head.
I like this horse and could see him running massive race here despite a nagging doubt as to if he is quite good enough.
Hailing from the always dangerous Richard Fahey stable, Growl will for sure have his backers as he seems to always be a short price for these races.
However, he has failed to win this race in two attempts, looking all over a winner last year when carrying my money only to be run out of it close home. He again travelled supremely well in the Wokingham before failing to see it through. In my opinion he would benefit from the fitting of a hood in an attempt to switch his mind off in the early stages of his races.
Running here off a mark a full 15 pounds below his last winning one, this previous Group 1 runner up is dangerous and for sure will pop up one day soon, but personally I wouldn’t back him.
This three year old filly by Foxwedge had solid form as a two year old, culminating with a good third in the Listed Redcar Trophy over six furlongs.
Second in her first two outings this year, the second time to the highly rated Equilateral, Foxtrot Lady then racked up two easy wins at Chester and Carlisle before meeting trouble in running when coming home a strong finishing fifth of twenty in what is always both a fiercely competitive and informative six furlong handicap for three year olds at York. Next seen in another hotly contested six furlong handicap for three year olds, this time at Newmarket, she travelled notably well before quickening up smartly to win with a bit in hand.
After picking up a six pound penalty for that latest win, she now races here off a mark of 100 minus four pounds weight for age. At the five day declaration stage she is number 29 on the list, which means that with a max field of 28 she needs just one more to come out. In other words she is pretty much guaranteed a run at this stage.
This is a rapidly improving filly who seems to be ahead of her mark. She is owned by Jeff Smith and trained by Andrew Balding, the same connections that won this race in 2016 with the mare Dancing Star, who notably also won the same prep race at Newmarket. Balding’s father Ian also previously trained a Stewards Cup winner for owner Smith courtesy of the brilliant mare Lochsong. They would love nothing more than to do it again with Foxtrot Lady and this filly will be tuned up to the max for Saturday.
If she gets luck in running then Foxtrot Lady looks the most likely winner at this stage and her current odds of 12/1 are sure to be snapped up between now and race time.
Unibet Stewards Cup verdict:
The draw and where the pace horses are breaking from can play a crucial role in this race, but provided luck in running then Foxtrot Lady looks the one to be on and warrants an each way bet @ 12/1 freely available. Tis Marvellous is best of the rest.