The Stewards Cup run over 6F and is open to horses aged three years and upwards. It is one of the biggest flat sprint handicaps of the summer. First run in 1840 it has had various different sponsors since 1970. Richard Hughes still holds the record as the leading jockey of this famous race with four victories.
Michael Dods’s Comanche Falls has won the last two renewals with six favourites obliging this century. This year’s renewal is no different to any previous year with at this stage a wide-open look about it. Let’s take a look at the field as it stands with a couple of weeks until the race takes place along with a couple of my ante-post free horseracing tips for the big race.
Royal Ascot’s Wokingham Handicap the race to study
The first port of call is normally the Wokingham Handicap, run over 6F at Royal Ascot in June which was won this year by Archie Watson’s Saint Lawrence who will be looking to follow up here off of a 6lb higher handicap mark. He actually ran in the contest last year when trained by Roger Varian finishing 15th of the 28-strong field from a mark only a pound lower. He can be competitive again although he will be taking on several who finished close up behind him at Ascot on worse terms.
One of those is the Wokingham runner-up Apollo One, who only went down by a length and is now 3lb higher so effectively 3lb better off for a length beating from his old rival. There shouldn’t be anything between them on those calculations.
The well-backed favourite from that race was the Charlie Hills lightly raced four-year-old grey Orazio who finished 6th overall some 2 1/2L behind Saint Lawrence and can take him on again on 6lb better terms. That was only his seventh career start and he may well have more improvement to come. His trainer believes he’ll make up into a pattern performer and I would take him to turn the tables on those that ran against him at Ascot.
Mums Tipple ran fourth, second in his group behind Apollo One, and is yet another that looks capable of making his presence felt if on a going day whilst the 11th home Albasheer, who was only beaten 3 1/2L and is a stable mate of the winner Saint Lawrence has attracted some interesting support recently.
Don’t forget the three-year-olds
It takes a highly rated three-year-old to get into the race, let alone win the contest with nine winning since 1978 although only three this century, Magical Memory, Dancing Star and Khaadem who all went on to score in Group company with Charlie Hills training two of them.
The highest-rated three-year-old this year is Rumstar with an official rating of 109, Jonathan Portman’s Havana Grey colt won a nursery at this meeting last year and was last seen finishing 5th (beaten 2 1/2L) by Shaquille in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and even with his big weight could be the early value call. That was a career-best run and with the winner and third (Swingalong) winning since can be competitive.
Andrew Balding’s Desert Cop is another that can get in the race and also ran well in Group 1 sprint company at Royal Ascot when 6th in the 5F Kings Stand Stakes. He was disappointing however last week back in the handicap company at Newmarket racecourse and would need to step forward from that effort.
The Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum-owned Tajalla is lightly raced having just had the four runs but showed at Newmarket last week when 8th to Quinault that he has little in hand of the handicapper which can also be said about Rousing Encore who looks out of sorts currently.
You have to go down to number 55 to find the next member of the classic generation with the Roger and Harry Charlton-trained Batal Dubai who is two from two on the all-weather, winning by a head at Newcastle when last seen on the first day of July. The same training duo also have the possibility of running Zaman Jemil who was a winner at Thirsk early this month.
We’re then down to number 60 to find the next three-year-old and with only 28 allowed to run will need plenty to come out (although that is quite possible with two declaration stages still to come).
A big weight is no negative
The last six winners have all been carrying at least 9 stone with nine of the last twelve also carrying above 9 stone.
At this early stage that brings in the top twenty-two in the handicap including the likes of the Charlie Hills trained Tanmawwy who impressed when well backed and won a class two handicap at Windsor early this month but has to shoulder a 5lb penalty for that win.
Kevin Ryan’s King Power-owned Bielsa has plenty of ability as he showed when beating a big field at York in May and wasn’t totally disgraced in finishing tenth in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot. He’s a bit inconsistent but more than capable on his day.
Last year, in this race at Goodwood racecourse, there was a big draw bias with those drawn high (near side) having the call with the first five home exiting stalls 19, 28, 27, 26 and 18 and over the years it does seem to be the place to race although obviously ground conditions and pace angles will have to be taken into account come the day.
With that so important it’s quite tough to pinpoint a bet this far out but it’s worth taking the 10/1 generally available about Orazio, who’s worth one more chance having finished 6th in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot. His trainer Charlie Hills has won this race twice in the last eight years and remains relatively unexposed.
At a bigger price, it’s worth adding Jonathan Portman’s Rumstar to the portfolio as the highest-rated three-year-old in the race. His latest third in the Coronation Cup is top form and although he will have to shoulder a big weight looks value at his current price.
Stewards Cup Ante-Post Betting Tips
Orazio 1 point each way @ 10/1 with Bet365 bonus code (Paying top 4 places at 1/4 odds)
Rumstar 1 point each way @ 20/1 @ William Hill promo code (Paying top 4 places at 1/4 odds)
All prices are available at the time of writing.