Stewards’ Cup—Let’s win it for SA one day! – Turf Talk: 7 August 2017

Five miles north of Chichester we find... this!

Five miles north of Chichester we find… this!

THE Goodwood Festival aka “Glorious Goodwood” is indeed glorious. Even when there is a dose of wind and rain interrupting those puffy cloud and sunshine English summer skies.

Billing itself as the most beautiful racecourse in the world is not a very British thing to do. Blowing its own trumpet at several hundred decibels. But nobody takes much notice – we know how gorgeous it all looks – and if they do, they suspect it has something to do with the Qatari sponsorship that applies to – seemingly – all things Goodwood.

The Saudi and other Arab League sanctions against Qatar for allegedly funding terrorism only echo caution that has been expressed in the bloodstock industry for some time, but the personalities seem entirely
divorced from government procedures and we await developments.

Goodwood nevertheless is a quintessentially English institution that forms part of the Duke of Richmond’s estate. The internal combustion engine form of horse power also features brilliantly in the Goodwood Festival of Speed on the tarmac covered racecourse elsewhere on the estate. Sir Stirling Moss suffered his career ending accident in a Lotus there in 1962 but today remains arguably the biggest draw at Goodwood (cars) with massive crowds flocking to see him drive something vintage and throaty each year.

On the turf, the Sussex Stakes and Nassau Stakes are the Group 1s that contribute strongly to championship status, supported by other Group races such as the Gordon Stakes and Lennox Stakes. Gordon-Lennox is the family surname born by Lord March who is the Duke’s eldest son and heir apparent to the Goodwood estate.

On Friday evening, we had a runner at sunny Newmarket, bright til 9.30, where the ground had dried to Good since earlier heavy rain. We ran 3rd. Our worthy grey did his best climbing out of the Dip under a welterweight, then was led away after a shower by his young lad Nathan chatting to him about the next time.

The Stewards Cup, a great race to win!

The Stewards Cup, a great race to win!

On Saturday afternoon back at Goodwood, the track was drying from Soft, Heavy in places – hence Churchill’s withdrawal from the Nassau – back to Soft, Good to Soft in places. The sun was out and the view across the Downs was a lovely as ever, as was the distant sight of the shimmering sea looking from high over the parade ring in the opposite direction.

With South African racing ambitions in mind, my attention on Saturday was largely on the Stewards Cup. I know that South Africans want to beat the best in the world – which means running in Group 1s – but if I were ever to be in a position to manage several South African breds in training in England, I would aim for more achievable but still very sexy wins to advance the reputation of our (SAF) breed.

Some would be in Heritage Handicaps such as the Great Metropolitan, Royal Hunt Cup, Wokingham, Ebor and Ayr Gold Cup. And the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood over 6 furlongs with 2.6 million rand to the winner.

First run in 1840, the Stewards’ Cup accommodates Group class sprinters and whatever else can get into a race framed for 28 runners across the track.

“Jockeys can cause a stewards enquiry in a four runner race at Goodwood” sums up how tricky the track can be. On each occasion when we have won at Goodwood, we have either come down the middle to avoid being “tipped” sideways or kicked clear of any scrimmaging and hung on.

Well known for its downhill elements – especially that right-handed swoop off the round course into the straight– Goodwood has a more surprising characteristic elsewhere. The first furlong of the straight 6 for the Stewards’ Cup is a strong uphill.

Don’t miss the kick! Hit the hill from the gate, breast the brow well balanced. Then the trouble might start. Whereas the best ground on Saturday looked to be down the middle, a certain Mr Lanfranco Dettori drawn 15 of 26 was up in the van from the first strides. He headed for the far rail, so over went the field to the right. There were many hard luck stories. We would have stayed in the middle!

Swinging downhill into the Goodwood straight.

Swinging downhill into the Goodwood straight.

Frankie was on a 25/1 outsider but explained afterwards that the trainer, Dean Ivory – small yard – long history following in his father’s footsteps – was sweet on LANCELOT DU LAC’s chances. So he went for it and won on merit from the front on a 7 year old who has run in a July Cup.

LANCELOT DU LAC was registered bred in Italy, by Shamardal out of a Capote mare. “DU LAC” – not Italian and as opposed to “OF THE LAKE” – is actually normal in many versions of the Camelot story written in the Norman dominated 11th and 12th centuries. It also has the advantage of having less than 18 letters and spaces. LANCELOT beat DANCELOT, because SIR DANCELOT (an enormous horse by SIR PRANCELOT – really – I am not making this up) started favourite with Ryan Moore but got no sort of a run and was looked after for next time.

Aussie rider Kerrin McEvoy wins for Allan Bloodlines at Goodwood Racecourse.

Aussie rider Kerrin McEvoy wins for Allan Bloodlines at Goodwood Racecourse.

Winning something like the Steward’s Cup at a fabulous place like Goodwood with a (SAF) bred sprinter would be brilliant. Should any reader be in a position to ship us half a dozen, with or without export streamlining, with or without a trainer attached, we can not only “Make a Plan’ but actually have “The Plan” in place already at relatively reasonable cost, with excitingly rising prize money all round. Looking ahead!

Meanwhile, with enormous due respect to WINTER for her Group 1 Nassau win, one of the best things to happen this week at Goodwood was surely EXPERT EYE. On Tuesday when the ground was Good, the Stoute trained 2 year old colt won the Vintage Stakes Group 2 by 4½ lengths.

He is a son of ACCLAMATION and I respectfully refer readers to my Monday Column dated 17th July, written in Johannesburg, extolling the virtues of ACCLAMATION and his sons. EXPERT EYE looks very special indeed. Let’s be ahead of the game both north and south….

Next stop…the National 2YO Sale….and another column to be written in Johannesburg. – tt.