Inver Park bids to supplement Royal Ascot success and secure a fourth straight win for George Boughey when he goes for gold in the Coral Stewards’ Cup.
Bought for £35,000 out of the retiring Mick Quinn’s yard in December, the Pivotal gelding made it a hat-trick for his new connections in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
While that big-race triumph came over seven furlongs, he had previously won over six at Windsor and Hamilton over six and Boughey does not expect the return to sprinting to be a problem.
“Inver Park has been a well-plotted horse by Sam Haggas, who bought him in December last year,” said the Newmarket handler.
“Sam said ‘this horse is going to win the Buckingham Palace’ and I looked at him like he had two heads – and then he won the Buckingham Palace!
“Sam said his next race should be the Stewards’ Cup, so I’m doing as I’m told. In fairness, I always thought he was a six-furlong horse and he surprised me over seven at Royal Ascot.”
Great Ambassador and Popmaster give trainer Ed Walker a strong hand in the Coral Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood on Saturday.
The Newmarket handler has high hopes for his two runners in the £250,000 feature, both of whom have already shown themselves capable of mixing it in top-end sprint handicaps.
Great Ambassador, second in last season’s Ayr Gold Cup, reverts to handicap company after being well beaten in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and the Hackwood at Newbury so far this term.
Popmaster, meanwhile, was last seen finishing second in the Wokingham Stakes at the Royal meeting and is the preferred choice of jockey Tom Marquand.
“Both horses are well, but they have very different profiles,” said Walker.
“Popmaster is a horse very much on the up and starting to fulfil his potential, while Great Ambassador, following the perfect year last year, is just coming right and has just come back to himself.
“He had a setback in the spring and things just haven’t gone right for him this year, but his run at Newbury certainly showed glimpses of last year’s form and he’s hopefully about to peak.
“Tom had the choice and he picked Popmaster in what was a pretty difficult decision for him. I think it was on the back of a huge run at Ascot and he’s a horse that is bang in form.
“It made sense to put Saffie (Osborne) on Great Ambassador. She’s riding really well, we’ve had success with Saffie in the past and the 3lb off can only help.”
Last year’s winner Commanche Falls returns to defend his crown for Michael Dods, while 2020 victor Summerghand is also back for more as one of two runners for David O’Meara along with Gulliver, who chased home Commanche Falls 12 months ago.
O’Meara said: “Summerghand is a previous winner and Gulliver hit the woodwork when he was second last year.
“Summerghand is in good form and goes well on the track. I was pleased with his most recent run at Royal Ascot, the race wasn’t completely run to suit and I thought he did really well.
“Gulliver would need the ground a little slower ideally these days and any rain would help his cause.”
First Folio was beaten four lengths into sixth place in the Wokingham and is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.
“We’ve been really happy with him since Ascot and this has always been the plan. He tries his heart out every race and we hope he can provide his runners with a fun day,” said trainer James Ferguson.
“The ground should be in our favour if it dries out, he’s a horse that I’ve always thought enjoys top of the ground and he runs ultra-consistently.
“It’s one of those races where if everything goes in his favour, with a bit of luck he could be bang there at the finish.”
John Quinn saddles last year’s Stewards’ Sprint scorer Mr Wagyu, who was last seen plundering a valuable prize in Ireland.
“We’re very happy with him and he’s obviously in great form,” said Quinn.
“He likes the track, he’s up a bit in the weights but is in good nick and we’re hoping for a good run. When he’s in form he likes running so we just drive on.”
Other hopefuls in a typically wide-open contest include Ed Bethell’s recent Doncaster runner-up Regional and the Roger Varian-trained Saint Lawrence, who was sixth in the King’s Stand a couple of starts back.
Bethell said: “Regional had a great prep run at Doncaster a month ago and he goes there in what I believe to be quite good form.
“He seems very well in himself. We’ve booked Ryan Moore and we hope he has a good chance, but he’ll need plenty of luck in running and fingers crossed he’ll do himself justice.”
Varian said: “Saint Lawrence disappointed us in the Hackwood. He ran a good race in the King’s Stand, when he came home well, and he was third in the Palace House at the start of the year.
“He seems to enjoy the early tempo of those five-furlong races. He gets a bit lost before coming home well and I think the hustle and bustle of a Stewards’ Cup could suit.”