Commanche Falls claims historic Stewards’ Cup repeat

Commanche Falls showed plenty of guts to became the first horse since Sky Diver in 1967 and 1968 to win back-to-back renewals of the Coral Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.

In a typically competitive edition the action played out on the stands’ side, with those drawn in the high numbers filling the first five places home.

The 150-1 shot, and eventual fourth, Good Eye led the bunch on the near side for a long way, but it was the defending champion who loomed large as the field passed the final furlong marker.

Hollie Doyle soon pulled Tabdeed out to mount a challenge and Archie Watson’s charge gave Commanche Falls plenty to think about in the closing stages as the duo became embroiled in a duel to the line.

But it was Michael Dods’ five-year-old who stuck his head down when it mattered most for Connor Beasley, who also rode him 12 months ago, to become the sixth horse overall to double up in the prestigious six-furlong sprint at 25-1.

Beasley said: “I wanted to be behind the back of the pace, but when I rousted him along to get there I’ve hit the front way too soon. He just idled in front, but when Hollie came to his quarters he stuck his neck out.

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Commanche Falls (centre) became the first horse since 1968 to win back-to-back Stewards' Cups
Commanche Falls (centre) became the first horse since 1968 to win back-to-back Stewards’ Cups (Steven Paston/PA)

“It’s fantastic for all connections and the team back at home. I’m over the moon.

“He’s got a big, long neck on him and a big stride and I just felt that when I asked him again when Hollie came to me I felt he stretched his neck out again. I was quietly confident that we’d won, but you can never be too sure when it’s that close.

“He’s only run a couple of times  this season, but when I sat on him on Wednesday I was very happy.

“He seems to roll with the cambers here and springs to life. He did a bit of a fly leap at the start but was soon in a good position.

“I’ve ridden 59 winners since January and this one is very special.

“For the boss and everyone back at Denton Hall it’s great that they got the horse back here and he loves it here. It’s great.”

The victory of Commanche Falls brought up a cross-course treble for Dods and the Denton Hall-based handler said: “It’s been a great day. The first one at Thirsk (Billy No Mates) was a surprise, he hasn’t run for a long time, but I thought Azure Blue (at Newmarket) would win and she did. With Commanche Falls winning as well I’m lost for words really.

“He’s run a blinder, I thought the ground might be a bit quick and they might do him for toe early on, but he travelled better than I expected and to do it two year’s in a row following the disappointment at Royal Ascot is unbelievable.

“It’s great for the whole team, Connor and the owners. We went down there with two in the race and Tinto has also finished fifth and run a blinder.

Trainer Michael Dods was celebrating a cross-course treble on Saturday
Trainer Michael Dods was celebrating a cross-course treble on Saturday (Simon Cooper/PA)

“We went down there hoping for a good run from Commanche, not with any great expectations, but we knew he was in good order.”

Commanche Falls will now be aimed once again at the Ayr Gold Cup, a race he finished seventh in 12 months ago.

Dods added: “I would expect that is where he would head, he ran well up there last year. He’ll definitely go to Ayr, but whether he goes anywhere before there I couldn’t tell you that just yet.”

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