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Fellowes mounts twin assault on Stewards’ Cup

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.

Atalanta’s Boy absolutely loves it at Goodwood
Atalanta’s Boy absolutely loves it at Goodwood (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

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.”

Meraas is one of two runners for Mark Johnston
Meraas is one of two runners for Mark Johnston (Tony Knapton/PA)

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.”

Wonderful Tonight tops nine hunting Lillie Langtry prize

Wonderful Tonight will face eight rivals in Saturday’s Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood.

David Menuisier’s dual Group One winner was initially set to tackle the top level again last weekend in Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

But when forecast storms did not arrive, she was a late absentee, and Sussex trainer Menuisier quickly announced his intention to instead target Saturday’s Group Two over an extra two furlongs.

Wonderful Tonight is unbeaten in her last three starts – Group One successes in the Prix de Royallieu over this trip at ParisLongchamp and the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, as well as an emphatic victory in open company on her return to Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.

She has shown her best form to date in testing conditions – and although the going at Goodwood is beginning to dry out, it is still currently good to soft.

Among Wonderful Tonight’s opponents, all receiving 3lb or more as she again takes on her fellow fillies and mares, are Ralph Beckett’s Albaflora – re-opposing after finishing fifth in the Hardwicke.

Also in the reckoning are Roger Varian’s Believe In Love, back to form with a Leopardstown Group Three victory this month.

Varian is represented too by Cabaletta – while Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Oaks runner-up Divinely, the only three-year-old in the field, and Joseph O’Brien’s Traisha are the Irish challengers.

The improving Golden Pass, for Hugo Palmer, Andrew Balding’s Tribal Craft and David O’Meara’s course-and-distance winner Makawee complete the line-up.

The Unibet Stewards’ Cup is another traditional highlight on the final day of the Goodwood Festival.

In a maximum field of 28, Balding’s Chipchase Stakes victor Chil Chil tops the weights just above last year’s winner Summerghand, for O’Meara.

Other notable contenders among declarations include Commanche Falls, hat-trick seeking Ejtilaab – who has just joined Charlie Fellowes’ yard – Motagally, Hurricane Ivor, Fresh and Bielsa.

A high draw was long considered advantageous in the famous sprint handicap, but that has not been borne out by results of late.

Among those towards the head of the market, Ejtilaab (25) bagged a high draw this time – with Michael Dods’ Commanche Falls (23) nearby.

Summerghand won last year's Unibet Stewards’ Cup
Summerghand won last year’s Unibet Stewards’ Cup (Dan Abraham/PA)

James Fanshawe’s Fresh (16) and Hurricane Ivor (18), for William Haggas, are among those who will break from the middle.

Atalanta’s Boy (27) is an intriguing runner for David Menuisier, having started slowly on occasions – including when fancied for last year’s race.

His trainer said: “I am thinking that, if we get more rain, I have a feeling the stands’ side is where you will have to be.

“I would have preferred to have an even number, because this horse is a bit funny in the stalls. It means that he will be in the stalls longer than I’d like – but saying that, I am happy enough.”

Wonderful Tonight tops 23 in Lillie Langtry contention

Wonderful Tonight is one of 23 entries in Saturday’s Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood following her late withdrawal from the King George at Ascot last weekend.

Trainer David Menuisier banked on the weather forecasters being correct in their assertion that heavy showers would hit Ascot in the lead up to the meeting, but unfortunately for Wonderful Tonight’s connections, nothing of substance arrived.

On taking his pride and joy out of the biggest race of the season to date, the Frenchman said: “When you train a soft-ground horse you always need a bit of luck, with races in the middle of the summer.

“She’s the filly of a lifetime with big targets in the autumn, so we’ve got to do right by her.

“We’d like to give Goodwood a go, and she’s entered in the Lillie Langtry Stakes, so could run there.”

Should she run, Wonderful Tonight could have most to fear from Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista, winner of the Lancashire Oaks last time out.

Ralph Beckett’s Albaflora sports the same Kirsten Rausing colours and could also take her chance. Beckett has also entered the Juddmonte-owned Yesyes, unbeaten in two starts to date.

Roger Varian sent Believe In Love to Ireland to win a Group Three last time out and she could be joined by stablemates Cabaletta and Save A Forest.

David O’Meara’s consistent Makawee, Hugo Palmer’s improving Golden Pass, Aidan O’Brien’s Passion and George Boughey’s Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel are among the initial entries.

Andrew Balding’s Chil Chil is top weight in the Unibet Stewards’ Cup. She was last seen finishing a four-length ninth in the Group One July Cup. Balding also has Stone Of Destiny in the mix.

Last year’s winner Summerghand is back for more for O’Meara with Eve Johnson’s Houghton’s progressive Punchbowl Flyer going up in grade.

Ejtilaab has been making good progress for Ian Williams but should he run, it will be for Charlie Fellowes on this occasion with Lampang, Motagally and Commanche Falls all engaged.

The maximum field size is 28 with a Stewards’ Cup consolation race for those that don’t make the cut.

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.”