Hannon has Brave answer to Stewards'

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In 1834, the senior of two stewards officiating at Goodwood's July meeting decided to award a cup worth £100 to a race of his choosing.

In 1834, the senior of two stewards officiating at Goodwood's July meeting decided to award a cup worth £100 to a race of his choosing.

In the early days the distance of the contest ranged from six furlongs to a mile and a half, but it was finally settled that the Stewards' Cup should be a race at the sprint end of the scale. It was appropriate when the first winner was Epirus, trained in Malton by John Scott and ridden by the trainer's brother William, whom, the history books note "had a fondness for the bottle and was frequently so drunk he was unfit to ride". It is a race that does that to you, especially if you happen to be a punter.

The Stewards' Cup is always a well-populated event, always the "cavalry charge" of frequent description. This was certainly so for the 1861 running when 45 horses were due to face the starter but all could not do so because of a shortage of jockeys (this, incidentally, is not a collective noun). Many of those which did compete were partnered by "incompetence" and the consequent race was a farce, albeit a farce won by the gambled-on Croagh Patrick.

Sixteen years later there was a volley of Cannons, forebears of Lester Piggott, when the family of that name dominated the race. Upset, ridden by 14-year-old Morny Cannon, won from Tib, who was piloted by his elder brother Tom and trained by their father, Tom Cannon snr. There may well be a little more of the same this afternoon when the team of David Nicholls and his jockey wife and assistant, Alex Greaves, send out a fifth of the field.

The Yorkshire trainer originally entered 12 horses for this six-furlong handicap and half of those remain, including the favourite, Tayseer, and the nearest horse to him in the market, Royal Result, the mount of Nicholls' son, Adrian.

These two, indeed most of the Nicholls' horses, have been selected high stalls numbers following the fanfare of Thursday's draw. But the message from this raffle seems to be that low numbers are deemed to be best, as all those who were given early choices elected to let their representatives come up the stands side. Harmonic Way emerged from the number eight box to score last year and three of the first four home were drawn at 10 and lower.

There is speed on the nearside too in the shape of the lightning-fast starter Repertory, and so this looks the place to be. Punters should get a good run then, each-way at the very least, from BRAVE EDGE (nap 3.50) who, although he has not won for over two years, does have his positive points.

The nine-year-old, who is drawn eight, was sixth in this event last year, not beaten far, and is considerably lower in the weights this time around. In addition, the stable of his trainer, Richard Hannon, is now in scintillating form.

The Nassau Stakes is a more manageable field and contains a solid favourite in Crimplene (next best 3.20), who looks on course to complete a four-timer.

Newmarket is made most notable by the return of Frankie Dettori and the promise of a whopping Tote Scoop6 prize. The Essex Boys, who won close to £690,000 last week, will now become the first millionaires from the bet if they can pick the winner of the bonus race, the nursery. Most will wish them well, if not those hoping for an even larger rollover next week.

Dettori has his first Group One ride since returning from injury at Deauville tomorrow when he partners Lend A Hand in the Prix Maurice de Gheest for Godolphin. The Emirates team won this six and a half furlong contest 12 months ago with Diktat. Six of the 11 runners in the race travel from Britain. Gorse (Henry Candy), Bold Edge (Hannon), Hot Tin Roof (Tim Easterby), Winning Venture (Sean Woods) and Sir Nicholas (Jeremy Noseda) join Lend A Hand in a cosmopolitan field which includes runners from Germany and Japan.

Cards for the meetings at Thirsk and Worcester, page 21

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