You take the high numbers and I’ll take the low numbers
3 August 2012
3.10pm Goodwood - Belgian Bill each-way
At the Blue Square Stewards’ Cup draw yesterday it was quite clear where most trainers and their connections wanted to be. The far side. Since 2011 low numbers have been on the far side, with the high numbers on the stands’ side. When Elusive Prince was pulled out of the tombola first up by the charming Olivia Godfrey connections immediately went for gate two.
Mark Johnston was one of the few trainers to be present at the draw and the Scot, who is in sizzling form on the Sussex Downs this week, was adamant that the middle to far side was the place to be. Richard Fahey was another at the draw and he maintained that both he and Kevin Ryan, who he was representing, had both wanted low draws .
Nicola Topper, travelling head groom to Mick Channon said: “Mick wanted a low number between three and nine, and preferably to go where the pace is but Atlantic Sport came out too early before many of the fancied horses had been picked.”
And without taking the going into consideration at this early stage, looking at the pace angles in the race shows that most of the likely pace-setters are based in low-numbered stalls.
Elusive Prince (2), Victoire de Lyphar (3) and Bajan Tryst (1) all like to bowl along in front or near the front, which means the hold-up horses such as Waffle (6), Atlantic Sport (7), Jamesie (9), Grissom (5) and Swiss Cross (8) all need to be given the utmost consideration. Swiss Cross, with his good form at the undulating tracks of Epsom and Brighton, looks huge at 33-1.
Only Whaileyy (27) and Bayleyf (28) could be in the market for setting the pace on Saturday on the near side and as both are priced at huge prices it is questionable what the class horses on the stands’ side have got to aim at.
Andrew Balding’s Dungannon was one of the first to be chosen and it is interesting that the representative of the Kingsclere trainer opted for stall 24. William Knight was on hand to explain why he chose stall 20 for Palace Moon.
“It’s a bit of a lottery but Dungannon, who has a good chance is nearby in stall 24,” the Sussex trainer said. “Being near horses with chances that will take my boy into the race is possibly more important than any ground bias.”
Other trainers who wanted high draw before the ceremony were Marco Botti (Whaileyy) and Charlie Hills (Shropshire).
Today’s punting minefield at Goodwood includes the Betfred Mile and although we had a heavy shower over the Sussex Downs early this morning the going remains good. It is extremely blowy up here and in the hope that by race time it will be riding slightly quicker I’m going to throw a few quid on Belgian Bill at 20-1.
Both of his wins have come on good to firm and most of his runs this season have basically been a write-off. He showed last season he wasn’t far off Group 2 level when second to Dordogne in Turkey and with a bit of luck in-running 20-1 looks an each-way investment.
That said when I was burning the midnight oil last night I couldn’t whittle my shortlist down to fewer than six so I wouldn’t be overly confident.