Charlie Fellowes is heading into the ultra-competitive Unibet Stewards’ Cup with two live chances as Chiefofchiefs and new recruit Ejtilaab line up for the Newmarket handler.
Chiefofchiefs has been a standing dish in races of this nature for a few seasons but bar a win in the Silver Wokingham, has a string of hard luck stories to his name.
On the other hand, Ejtilaab had been making great strides for Ian Williams before being moved to Fellowes recently and following wins at Epsom and Newcastle, he will be sent off among the favourites.
“I don’t know much about Ejtilaab, I’ve done very little with him,” said Fellowes.
“He’s a good-looking horse and you’d think the track would suit him as he’s won over six at Epsom. Hopefully they’ll go a good gallop.
“We’ve never run Chiefofchiefs at Goodwood. He’s been a bit unlucky this year as the rain has come on both his starts and although he has form on soft, I’m certain he’s better on a sounder surface. I wouldn’t want too much rain for him.
“He loves a big field, he’s a very talented horse and he could go well.”
The draw is always a huge talking point in these big sprints and Fellowes’ pair were both drawn out early, with the trainer choosing 25 for Ejtilaab and 19 for Chiefofchiefs.
“We went high with both of them because a lot of early pace came out high and there’s not a huge amount of pace in the race, so we wanted to follow where the speedier horses were. Luckily a few of the forward-going horses went high,” said Fellowes.
David Menuisier’s Atalanta’s Boy is definitely a course specialist as a four-times distance winner at Goodwood, but his only defeat in Sussex came in this race 12 months ago.
“Apart from the Stewards’ Cup, he’s unbeaten at Goodwood – and I think the course-and-distance record is very important there,” said Menuisier.
“He missed the break in the race badly last year, (but) I’d like to think if he gets away this time he’d run a massive race.
“He’s all fine. At Epsom (in June), the track didn’t suit him.
“Even though he’s a Goodwood specialist, Epsom is quite different because you go downhill straightaway on the turn – and that’s the thing he didn’t like.
“Then the last day at Windsor, he did what he has done once or twice in the past (got left), which is very infuriating. We’ve been trying to work on this to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“But he’s six, so it doesn’t always apply with horses of that age. So we’ll keep our fingers firmly crossed he doesn’t do it again. He’ll have a bit of help in the starting stalls, which I hope might make the difference.”
Richard Fahey last won the race in 1998 with Superior Premium, one of his first major winners. This year he runs Mr Lupton, a stable stalwart and winner of over £660,000 in prize money. He will break from stall two.
“I shouldn’t really say this, but I’ve seen tougher Stewards’ Cups, so hopefully we’ve done well with the draw. Mr Lupton is in good form and we’re hopeful of a good performance,” said Fahey.
“Everyone went high early on in the draw and then there was a difference of opinion in terms of going low. I didn’t want to be in the middle so that’s why I went low.
“I think everything in racing is luck and what you don’t need in racing is bad luck.”
Mark Johnston’s pair of Desert Safari and Meraas were the first two out of the hat and he went high with both.
“Obviously a lot of people went for high numbers early on. I didn’t choose the rail as there is a danger when you’re on the rail that you can get stuck out and trapped in behind when the field come across in front of you.” said Johnston.
“I opted for 26 with Desert Safari and 24 with Meraas. Both horses are in good form. Desert Safari is not a horse who is going to be up towards the pace, so he will possibly have traffic problems and hopefully he can extricate himself.
“I’ve never won the Stewards’ Cup and generally these are not my favourite races as lady luck plays such a key part in it. I prefer races where the form outs.”