Last year’s runner-up Justanotherbottle will try to go one better in Saturday’s Unibet Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.
Agonisingly touched off by Gifted Master 12 months ago, the Declan Carroll-trained five-year-old has been prepared specifically for the big sprint having had just two starts this season.
He travels south with a 4lb lower rating than last year.
“We’re really pleased with him, he’s in good order and we’ve had this race in mind for a while now,” said Carroll.
“This has been the one we want. He’s coming to himself now and we’ve been targeting this.
“Stall nine shouldn’t be a negative, but we won’t know until after the race – hopefully we’ve chosen right.
“James Doyle rides him for the first time, but he’s uncomplicated, pretty straightforward and should give James a good ride.”
Charlie Hills has two runners, the top weight Vanbrugh and the classy Khaadem, who was second in a Group Three at Newbury last time out. Hills won it with a similar type in Magical Memory in 2015.
He said: “I think it was an easy decision to go for the race. He has come out the Newbury race very well. There wasn’t too much else for him at this time and three-year-olds have pretty decent record in the race in recent times.
“He is in good nick so we thought we would give it a shot. He was just unlucky at Newbury. He was drawn 10 of 10 which is not ideal there and he just got too far back. He ran on great.
“This horse comes in off a higher rating than when Magical Memory won, but we hope he is a Group horse in a handicap.
“Vanbrugh has been working very well at home. We have been banging our heads over seven furlongs as he has not been quite getting it, so we have decided to bring him back to six.
“Carrying top weight would be the only real negative, but he is there for a reason as he has earned that weight.”
Richard Fahey holds a very strong hand numerically with four runners, including Growl, who was not far behind Justanotherbottle when third last year, having been fourth the year before.
“He was third in it last year off a higher weight. You would imagine he would be better on quicker ground,” said Fahey.
“He ran well at York two runs ago and he was a bit unlucky on his last run. It is horses for courses and he has always run well there. He has been a star, but he has not won one of these.”
Of George Bowen, he said: “He needs to bounce back to his best. He is in good form at home and always seems to run well in big handicaps. He has lost his way a little a bit, but a day like this could spark him.
“Nobody seemed to want to go high (stall 25), but hopefully they are wrong.”
Fahey also runs Cosmic Law and Aljady, adding: “You would imagine Cosmic Law would be better on slower ground, but he is in great form. He has run well the last twice.
“I doubt if we will get rain, but we have not been banging away with him on fast ground. We decided to take our chance, but I imagine he is better on slower ground. He is very fit and very well.
“Aljady disappointed here the other day and needs to bounce back. In his home work he is well handicapped, but he was meant to win on Wednesday.
“I’ve put the cheekpieces on him as I felt he curled up a bit, so maybe that might suit him and bring some improvement out of him.”
Ian Williams is hoping veteran sprinter Sir Maximillian can bounce back to something like his best form.
“The old boy performed well at Doncaster. It is a couple of years since he has been seen to his best in Group races in Dubai,” said Williams.
“He is on a handy mark and Angus Villiers takes 7lb off. It is always a bit of gamble putting a youngster on in a race like this, but if all goes well, 7lb will be a huge help to him.
“It would give him a chance against his younger rivals.”
Jedd O’Keeffe is enjoying a fine season and Air Raid has contributed three wins to his tally.
He carries a 6lb penalty for a recent win at Hamilton. However, O’Keeffe would have preferred to have seen more rain.
“He is in great shape, but I would have been happier if there was rain. I’m sure it will be good to firm on Saturday and we have never tried him on that,” said O’Keeffe.
“He has won on good, but he is a very good-actioned horse. Hopefully he will be fine on it, but I would have been more comfortable if there had been rain.
“Once he started winning after his successful wind op and his first two wins, the race I wanted to go for was the Scottish Stewards’ Cup which we won.
“He had a run at Newcastle in between when he failed to handle the surface. It was a case of if he was going to do well enough to come here.
“We will probably look at the Ayr Gold or Silver Cup, depending what happens with his mark and there is a nice big sprint at York towards the end of the year that we have won before that we would like to have a go at with him.”