Glorious Goodwood: Golden Mile and Stewards' Cup fields shaping up
Weights have beenÂ unveiledÂ for the two very valuable heritage handicaps staged at the Qatar Goodwood Festival - the Â£150,000 Golden Mile (Friday, August 3) and the Â£250,000 Stewards' Cup (Saturday, August 4).
Heading the weights for the six-furlong Stewards' Cup Handicap is Projection (Roger Charlton, 9st 12lb), who was last seen when fifth in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The ante-post favourite for the historic handicap is Dreamfield (John Gosden, 9st 7lb). The Godolphin-owned four-year-old lost his unbeaten record when going down by a neck toBacchus (Brian Meehan, 9st 10lb) in the six-furlong Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot on June 23.
Newmarket trainer John Gosden has another contender near the top of the handicap, three-year-old Emblazoned (9st 6lb), who finished an excellent third in the G1 Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs at Royal Ascot.
Also prominent in the betting is Encrypted (Hugo Palmer, 8st 4lb), successful in a valuable six-furlong three-year-old handicap at York on June 16, when seeing off Savalas (Kevin Ryan, 8st 13lb) by a neck. Connections will have an anxious wait to see if the son of Showcasing makes the field for the Stewards' Cup, as he currently lies in 75th place in the handicap. The Stewards' Cup has a maximum field size of 28. Horses that do not make the cut for the main event are eligible for the consolation race, the £100,000 Qatar Stewards' Sprint Handicap, which is the opening race on Saturday, August 4.
Encrypted's owner/breeder Khalid Abdullah has another leading Stewards' Cup hope inEquilateral (Charlie Hills, 9st 1lb), who went down by just over six lengths when 12th in the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
A trainer based not far from Goodwood is Peter Hedger, who sends out runners from his base near Hook in Hampshire. The veteran handler is enjoying a great season with an enviable strike rate of 21 per cent and has made a Stewards' Cup entry for Silent Echo (8st 13lb). The Oasis Dream four-year-old recorded back-to-back successes over six furlongs at Windsor in May and June before being beaten under two and a half lengths when a staying-on fifth behind Bacchus in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Hedger revealed: "I would think the Stewards' Cup will be the next race for Silent Echo.
"He has been fine since his run at Royal Ascot. We have tried to keep him settled and as cool as we can in this weather. He has had a couple of easy weeks and will start to do a bit more next week.
"He is a clear-winded horse and hopefully will run at Goodwood. With his weight, he will have no problem getting in the race."
Silent Echo is relatively lightly-raced, winning four of his 12 starts and Hedger believes there is more to come from the Juddmonte Farms-bred gelding who was trained until last year by Roger Charlton.
He continued: "I think Silent Echo will be better still with another year on his back. That is what I am hoping anyway.
"Although he has not run at Goodwood before, I think he should cope with it as it is a straight track. The only concern would be if the ground went very firm, but they do a good job at Goodwood with keeping the course in great condition and well-watered."
Sky Diver was the latest of five horses to win the Stewards' Cup twice back in 1967 and 1968. Lancelot Du Lac (Dean Ivory, 9st 5lb) captured the 2017 renewal and may bid to follow up again this year. Hertfordshire-based Ivory has also entered Flaming Spear (9st 5lb), who could drop down in trip having finished fifth in the mile Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, and the three-year-old filly Eirene (8st 11lb).
Other leading contenders include Tis Marvellous (Clive Cox, 9st 1lb), fourth in the Wokingham Handicap, and Aces (Ian Williams, 8st 11lb), successful on his last two outings at Epsom and Newmarket.
Tregoning mulling Qatar Goodwood Festival options for course specialist Sir Titan
Newmarket trainer William Haggas looks to hold a strong hand in the £150,000 Golden Mile Handicap at the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Friday, August 3, with his five entries including Society Power (9st 1lb), the ante-post market leader with most bookmakers.
The three-year-old has already landed a valuable handicap at Goodwood this season, taking the seven-furlong Netbet Sport Handicap on May 26. Following that effort, he finished a good second over the same distance in the G3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Haggas could also be represented by the G2-placed Mubtasim (9st 5lb), Mankib (9st),Original Choice (8st 11lb) and Seniority (8st 12lb), owned by Her Majesty The Queen and eighth when favourite for the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile at Royal Ascot last time out.
Master The World (David Elsworth, 9st 6lb) won the Golden Mile in 2017 and could bid to become the first dual winner of the race. Since his victory last year, Master The World has won at Listed and G3 level on the Polytrack surface at Lingfield Park.
Owner Ronnie Arculli and trainer Ed Dunlop teamed up to win the Golden Mile with Red Avenger in 2014 and the same combination has Dark Red (9st 2lb), who went down by a neck to Humbert (Hugo Palmer, 9st) in a valuable Tapeta handicap at Newcastle on June 28.
Another trainer to have already been successful in the Golden Mile is Marcus Tregoning, who teamed with jockey Hayley Turner to take the 2011 renewal with Boom And Bust. Tregoning and Turner have linked up successfully with Sir Titan (8st 5lb) this season, winning two handicaps over seven furlongs at Goodwood in May and June.
Tregoning, who is based at Whitsbury in Hampshire, revealed: "The Golden Mile is a possibility for Sir Titan.
"We need to decide whether to go for this race, or whether to go for a race over seven furlongs or less at Goodwood.
"He acts very well at Goodwood and we want to go there again with him - we just need to weigh up our options and make a decision nearer the time.
"He has won over a mile, but I think there is a possibility that the distance stretches him, especially in a race like the Golden Mile where they always go a good pace. There is no quarter given when you are going for that sort of prize money!
"He looks to have a nice weight on 8st 5lb which sounds all right. And of course, you always need a good draw in these big handicaps at Goodwood."
Affaak (Charlie Hills, 9st 4lb), runner-up in the Royal Hunt Cup, could bid to make amends at Goodwood along with the third home Circus Couture (Jane Chapple-Hyam, 9st 7lb) and fourth What's The Story (Keith Dalgleish, 8st 12lb).
Another trainer looking to hold a strong hand is Newmarket-based Roger Varian. His five entries include Sharja Bridge (9st 6lb), last seen when eighth in the Listed Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot, the lightly-raced Cape Byron (8st 12lb), recent impressive Ripon scorer Daira Prince (8st 9lb) and Bowerman (8st 8lb), successful on two of his three career starts but not yet seen out in 2018.
Other leading contenders include the consistent Mordin (Simon Crisford, 8st 9lb), plus the David O'Meara-trained pair of Escobar (9st 2lb) and Firmament (8st 13lb).
There is a maximum field of 20 for the Golden Mile.