Stewards’ Cup Betting

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It is difficult to imagine a better spot on the British flat racing schedule for the six-furlong Stewards’ Cup Heritage Handicap than its position on the fifth and last day of the Glorious Goodwood Festival, held in late July or early August. The pinnacle of this annual meeting falls on the Saturday known as Blue Square Day, as a breath-taking cavalry charge of 28 horses makes for one of horse racing’s greatest spectacles.

Joining the £100,000 Stewards’ Cup on the race card is the Group 1 Nassau Stakes, covering a distance of one mile, one furlong and 192 yards. There are also five other exciting handicap events to start and end the day, including a maiden stakes, a nursery stakes and an apprentice stakes to debut new talent.

Run on the straight turf of the Goodwood Racecourse, the Stewards’ Cup is open to Thoroughbreds aged three years and upwards. Its name derives from a tradition that started here back in 1834, when the festival’s Senior Steward would at his own discretion present a cup to the winner of any race. Events ranged from six furlongs to 1½ miles, and the cup choice varied year by year.

Then in 1840, successful racehorse owner Lord George Bentinck (1802~1848) inaugurated the present race, a sprint handicap, to serve as the Stewards’ Cup competition. The initial running was conducted on Glorious Goodwood’s opening day; it was won by a six-year-old named Epirus, trained by John Scott.

From the 1980s until 1992, william hill served as the main sponsor of the Stewards’ Cup. In 1993, the event was moved from opening day to its current position on the last day of racing and Vodac became its primary backer. That relationship continued even as the Vodaphone brand was added to the race’s title in 1997. Then in 2007, Blue Square assumed sponsorship of the event and has retained the leading role ever since.

In recent history, no horse has managed to win the Stewards’ Cup more than once, but there have been plenty of champions leave their mark here. One of the race’s most illustrious victors was Lochsong, a 10/1 filly that outran 29 chasers in 1992. She went on to become the European Horse of the Year and notched up 15 victories, two seconds and four thirds in a career spanning 27 starts before retiring in 1994.

As pointer to success here, bettors might want to follow the action at the seven-furlong Bunbury Cup held at Newmarket’s July Festival. The 2000 winner Tayseer captured both events, as did the 2003 victor Patavellian. Indeed, past form is often an excellent indicator of success, as proven by 1996 winner Costal Bluff following a win at York three weeks earlier and by Gift Horse in 2007 coming fresh off a win in the Vodaphone Sprint Cup at Epsom Downs.

Since the turn of the new millennium, three top-ranked sprinters have prevailed in the Stewards’ Cup action. Pivotal Point was a co-favourite winning at odd of 7/1 in 2004 and Zidane was favoured at 6/1 when reaching the finish post first in 2007. Then in 2011, Hoof It finished first to pay 13/2 after winning just a week before at York.

The 1987 winner Madraco has the distinction of being the highest paying long shot to win here, delivering a handsome 50/1. More recently, Conquest made backers happy with a 40/1 payout in 2008. Out of the last ten races, six have been won at starting prices of 10/1 or higher.

The oldest entry to win in the past three decades was eight-year-old Shikari’s Son in 1995. The last three-year-old to reach the winner’s enclosure was Danetime in 1997. Since then, four- and five-year-olds have shared the spoils evenly with five victories each. Two six-year olds have also had success of late—Tayseer and the 2010 winner Even And Odds.

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