The early money for the Unibet Stewards’ Cup has seen First Folio’s place at the top of the betting harden in the build up to the race at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
The James Ferguson-trained three-year-old has been earmarked for the race since an impressive win over six furlongs at York in June, with that form franked in the weeks that followed. Runner-up Blackrod scored at Newmarket recently while Bickerstaffe, who finished four lengths behind the winner down in seventh spot, followed up that performance with a win at Ascot.
First Folio trainer James Ferguson weighed up another run for the horse that has only raced three times this year, winning twice, before deciding that his mark of 98 was enough to earn a tilt at Goodwood.
“I think he’s more of a horse for next year,” said the trainer based in Newmarket, “so I didn’t think there was a need to run him that much as a three-year-old.
“He came out of York well, and to be honest, I was just very happy to wait for the Stewards’ Cup.”
He’s trading as short as 13/2 at present and will no doubt shorten if the ground stays on the firm side. He’ll be up against a host of challengers for the six-furlong cavalry charge including the Karl Burke-trained Bickerstaffe (20/1), who he beat at York, and last year’s winner Summerghand (16/1). See BBC Sport for all the racing news.
Seven-year-old Summerghand, trained by David O’ Meara, would be a surprise winner based on recent trends, with only one horse aged seven winning the Stewards’ Cup in recent history – Lancelot du Lac in 2017 – and he finished well down the field in his last two runs at Ascot and Newmarket. And in the races 181-year history dating back to 1840, only five horses have ever won it more than once, Sky Diver the most recent dual winner in 1967 and 68.
Traditionally high draws have been beneficial, with 12 of the last 16 winners coming from double figure stalls, with Summerghand drawn 17 last year, reports TurfnSport.com.
Andrew Balding has earmarked Chil Chil for a tilt at the £116,000 first prize, despite finishing down the field when he took on the Group One Darley July Cup at Newmarket recently. The Ed Walker-trained Starman triumphed impressively that day, with Chil Chil four lengths behind the winner, but seven lengths in front of Summerghand.
Some horse betting sites have Chil Chil at 10/1, who boasted an impressive run of form before his Darley Cup outing, with Balding believing the five-year-old is improving with age. He had back-to-back wins before the Group One outing, and is expected to run a big race on the South Downs. The Newmarket trainer boast recent success in the race with Dancing Star justifying his favourite status with a win in 2016.
Along with Summerghand and Bickerstaffe’s challenge, the Northern contingent also includes Meraas (14-1) from the Mark Johnston yard, but the leading contender from the North in the betting is Commanche Falls (12/1), from the Michael Dods Stable, based at Denton, near Darlington. The four-year-old is looking to make it a Scottish and English Stewards’ Cup double after his recent victory at Hamilton, in a race that had Meraas down the field in sixth spot.