Stewards' Cup sets punters glorious poser


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The Independent Online

If Frankel's procession in the Sussex Stakes this week was a no-brainer, punters must now get their thinking caps on to work out the Blue Square Stewards' Cup, the traditional last-day Glorious Goodwood bookmaker bonanza. From the sublimely easy to the ridiculously difficult.

And this year's puzzle looks harder than ever to solve. Shopping around yesterday, you could get at least 12-1 about anything you fancied, as no horse has caught the betting public's imagination like Hoof It did last year and Lochsong and Borderlescott did in years gone by.

Yes, that's the same Borderlescott who runs today, still going six years later, almost as strong as ever.

Robin Bastiman's sprinter followed up that 2006 victory with near misses in the next two Stewards' Cups before going on to two Group One triumphs.

Now 10, he's not quite up to that level now, hence his drop back into handicap company, but this is no ceremonial fly-by on his return to an old happy hunting ground. Borderlescott has been doing well enough this season to suggest he can still give them a run for their money at a track that has always brought out the best in him.

If Borderlescott can win today he will bring the house down and it won't just be sentiment, as he has been receiving attention in the ante-post market these past few days. Yesterday, though, there were still no fewer than seven vying for outright favouritism, including the enigmatic Waffle, who is attempting to become trainer David Barron's third winner of the race.

Waffle's record of just one win from 24 starts (and that was on his debut) hardly inspires confidence. But he has shown with successive seconds in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot that he has the talent to win a big one when the cards fall right and there are good reasons to believe they might today, with plenty of good pace on his side of the track to lead him into his final spurt to the line.

Yesterday's big betting heat, the Betfred Mile, was won in surprisingly easy fashion by the heavily backed Fulbright. Mark Johnston was worried that a mile would stretch Fulbright's stamina to breaking point, but in the event the three-year-old was a clear-cut winner from the outsider Mabait and the luckless Mister Music. He was the Middleham trainer's fifth winner of the week.

Jamie Spencer and Graham Gibbons drew bans over incidents during and after the race. Spencer, on Field Of Dream, was suspended four days for causing interference to Gibbons' mount, Swiftly Done, inside the last quarter-mile while Gibbons received a five-day ban for striking Spencer with his whip after the finish.

The Melbourne Cup has become something of a holy grail for Luca Cumani and yesterday he unveiled another likely candidate for the November two-miler in Quest For Peace, all-the-way winner of the Glorious Stakes. The Group Two King George Stakes was won by the classy Australian-based mare, Ortensia, who produced an electrifying burst to come from near-last to beat Spirit Quartz.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Nasri (2.05 Goodwood)

Next best

Izzi Top (3.15 Goodwood)