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Ferguson plots Stewards’ Cup bid with First Folio

James Ferguson’s York winner First Folio will be saved for a crack at Goodwood’s Unibet Stewards’ Cup.

The three-year-old won what is traditionally a hot handicap on the Knavesmire last month, and already the form is stacking up – with the seventh home Bickerstaffe winning at Ascot and runner-up Blackrod scoring at Newmarket last week.

Ferguson has studied the past few renewals of the Stewards’ Cup and estimates First Folio’s mark of 98 should be sufficient enough to get him in the race. As a result, he is quite happy to stay patient until the end of this month.

“I think he’s more of a horse for next year, so I didn’t think there was a need to run him that much as a three-year-old,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“He came out of York well – and to be honest, I was just very happy to wait for the Stewards’ Cup. That’s the plan.

“Looking at the last few years, he should get in off his current rating, so I just didn’t feel the need to run again.

“He’s a horse who likes a bit of firmness in the ground, so the recent rain would have put me off anyway.

“With both Blackrod and Bickerstaffe winning decent races since, his form has been franked, but that York race is generally strong every year.

“His times have been very good. Fingers crossed we can get him there in one piece, and fingers crossed he gets in.”

First Folio victory boosts James Ferguson’s fledgling career

James Ferguson saddled the biggest win of his fledgling career to date when First Folio broke clear in the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York.

Ferguson is in just his second season with a licence, but it is fair to say he has had a good grounding.

His father, John, was Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock adviser before enjoying a brief but successful spell training mostly National Hunt horses.

Bought out of Henri-Francois Devin’s yard in France for 50,000 guineas, First Folio was having just his third start for Ferguson but landed the near £40,000 first prize by a clear-cut length and a half.

He had won on his first outing for Ferguson at Yarmouth, but was only fifth last time out at Newmarket.

He put that experience to good use under Daniel Muscutt, travelling into the race stylishly before quickening clear to beat Blackrod and Ey Up It’s Maggie.

Ferguson said: “I’m thrilled – this has been the plan since he won impressively at Yarmouth, with Newmarket on the way.

“The faster ground definitely helped him out today, and we made sure we got him out quickly.

“Credit to Dan, because he gave him a very cool ride, and thanks to the owners (Owners Group) for giving me a chance in only my second year training to have a horse of this calibre – we’re just delighted it’s paid off.

“Thanks to the team back home, because everybody works incredibly hard – and it’s great to have a crowd here today.

“To win a race like this so early in my career is huge. But it’s not just me, it’s the staff, the owners. and we are very much a team – I’m not doing this on my own. We’ve got about 40 horses in.

“This was the plan, so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”

Muscutt said: “I’m personally happy to get a nice winner for James. I teamed up with him plenty during the winter, and it’s nice to be progressing together.

“This horse could hopefully pop up in plenty of those nice handicaps.

“Last time he probably lacked a bit of experience in a big field. While I was disappointed he didn’t win, I wasn’t disappointed with how he ran – and that was strong form.

“James has been happy with him since, and he showed the real First Folio today.”