Racing: Fire Up The Band can carry Cup baton

Glorious Goodwood: Thirty runners line up for Stewards' Cup but all evidence points to finish being monopolised by high-drawn horses
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The Independent Online

It may look verdant and clear, but do not, definitely do not, strike picnic camp just below the rim of the hill in Goodwood's straight at about 3.30 this afternoon.

It may look verdant and clear, but do not, definitely do not, strike picnic camp just below the rim of the hill in Goodwood's straight at about 3.30 this afternoon.

For, around that time, the ground will tremble, the cups will shake, the tables will dance, as the terrible, many-legged monster they call the Stewards' Cup field hurtles into view over the lip.

The odds are that the ones slightly in front will be those further from the stands. That a high draw is required for one of the season's great sprints became a a self-fulfilling prophecy on Thursday, when several of the fancied horses emerged from the draw lottery early and were positioned on the far side.

It has been predicted that the pack will be led for most, if not all, of the way by Patavellian, who turned in a most startling piece of front-running to collect the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket's July course last month. However, the five-year-old is, according to his jockey, Steve Drowne, much more than just a one-trick pony.

"He seems to have a nice draw [from box No 27] and that looks the case historically," Drowne said yesterday. "And from watching the sprint the other day the first five home were drawn middle to high so I'm quite hopeful. I think a lot of the better horses are drawn high.

"It depends how quick they go but he's not a horse who has to make the running. It was just the way it worked out in the Bunbury Cup. I certainly won't be trying to burn them off again. It wasn't really the plan that day. He can do it from the front or behind and that's what makes him such a nice horse to ride. In a race like this you've just got to see what happens and how the race pans out.

"I think six is going to be the trip. He didn't feel like he got seven for me in the Bunbury Cup and he only just lasted home."

Patavellian has met most of the challenges thrown at him recently, having been beaten only once in his last six starts. That, by consequence, sees him now running off his highest ever mark.

On occasions the Stewards' Cup is won by a Group horse in the making, but here, peculiarly, the six-furlong event is contested by a horse which has already proved itself in the higher echelons. Endless Summer was second to Minardi in the millennium Middle Park Stakes for John Gosden and also won the Group Two Richmond Stakes on this course that season.

Endless Summer went west as a young man to the United States, but was repatriated for a race at Haydock a month ago, now in the hands of Kevin Ryan. It was a cracking effort as well, behind the restored Somnus. He must now avoid the "bounce" factor.

Another who has promised to be up to Listed class at least this season is Fire Up The Band, one of David Nicholls's six runners in the race. Dandy has been making some discouraging noises about the four-year-old, the optimum age for this race, but then he is a trainer prone to verbal camouflage.

Fire Up The Band has missed out most of the summer and its accompanying firm ground since winning at Newmarket in early July. The going is now right and so is his profile. FIRE UP THE BAND (nap 3.40) can win, with Patavellian and Endless Summer in close contention.

The Nassau Stakes is a less populated, if similarly intriguing, race, with petals on the ground for the the winner of both the 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes this season, Russian Rhythm. Sir Michael Stoute's filly has been beaten only once in her life and that was by the speed machine Airwave.

Now the dilemma is quite the opposite. Russian Rhythm must cope with animals endowed with apparently superior stamina. If she stays convincingly, she wins, but, at the odds, is worth opposing on this her first start over 10 furlongs.

Sometimes it is best to be boring in these instances and the undoubted value bet, each-way or otherwise, is a filly having her first run in Britain but who regularly runs with distinction in French Group One races, Phillippe Demercastel's Ana Marie (next best 3.05). Elsewhere on the card, Approach (2.00) should take the opening Fillies' Gladness Stakes while Commission (2.30) should be thereabouts for the revitalised Gerard Butler yard in the Thoroughbred Stakes.

At Newmarket,Castleshane (2.25) can take the Sky Bet Vegas Classified Stakes. This six-year-old has really come into his own this season since switching back from hurdles, winning three races already. Although he has been running over 10 furlongs this term the extra two furlongs should not prove too much of a problem. Further rain could stop him, however.

At Doncaster, Acclamation (2.55) can make a drop in class pay by taking the Unison Trade Union Positively Public Conditions Stakes over six furlongs. He was well beaten last time in the July Cup and although this is a hot-looking race, Acclamation can land a confidence-boosting success.

David Nicholls's assault on one of his favourite prizes was foiled by one of his former inmates, Undeterred, at Goodwood yesterday.

The Yorkshire trainer saddled 12 of the 21 runners in the Stewards' Sprint Handicap. But the best the trainer could manage in the £20,000 contest was second with the old stager Zuhair. Nicholls also took third place with Sir Don.

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