By Harry Allwood
The effect of the draw:
The only time the Stewards’ Cup has been run on soft going in the last ten years was the 2009 renewal won by the Roger Charlton-trained Genki. Those drawn down the centre that year were well on top at the finish with the first six home being drawn 10, 16, 11, 13, 14, 15.
There has been no obvious draw bias in the other renewals, although only two winners in the past ten years have been drawn above 20. However, the draw is likely to play a big part this year.
Those that raced far side, on the fresh strip of ground, seemed to have an advantage on Thursday, which would suggest a low draw is needed.
It will be interesting to see if there is a draw bias on Friday as the ground is drying out.
The key players:
Andrew Balding and David Probert teamed up to win this race last year with Dancing Star and are represented by Donjuan Triumphant, who is a general 33-1 chance.
Ten-year-old Hoof It won in 2011 and made a belated return to action at Hamilton last month. Although that was a below-par run, he has the form to go close if he retains all his ability and is potentially well drawn in stall four.
William Haggas has won this race twice in the last nine years. He runs Raucous, who was third last year and runs off a 2lb higher mark this year. Jim Crowley takes the ride and he also finished third in 2015 aboard Rivellino.
Robert Cowell trained Intrinsic to win in 2014 and went close with Lui Rei in 2012 and Prohibit in 2010. He runs Outback Traveller, who won the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot last year and is a general 20-1 chance.
Roger Charlton seeks a record fourth win and is the trainer of Projection, the favourite, who finished a close third in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot in June.
Richard Fahey is represented by Growl, who was fourth in this race last year, Eastern Impact and Brian The Snail. Fahey has not won the Stewards’ Cup since 1998.
Soft ground performers in the race:
Danzeno is versatile ground-wise and should cope with conditions having finished runner-up on heavy ground in the past.
Donjuan Triumphant, Mobsta and Lancelot Du Lac are also versatile ground-wise. Stake Acclaim, Al Qahwa and Brian The Snail have won on soft. Growl, Perfect Pasture, Intisaab, Raucous, Aeolus, Edward Lewis, Hoofalong, Duke Of Firenze, Poyle Vinnie and Hoof It have all shown form on soft ground.
The going is an unknown for Projection, Solar Flair, Shanghai Glory, Harry Hurricane, Sir Dancealot and Upstaging. This quintet are yet to race on ground worse than good to soft.
Eastern Impact and Outback Traveller have won on good to soft but disappointed on their only run on soft ground. Classic Seniority has run respectably on soft and heavy ground in the past but has shown his best form on good ground.
Polybius disappointed on his only run on soft ground as did Go Far.
Trends in the past 20 years:
Fifteen winners carried 9st 1lb or less to victory.
No horse older than six has won since 1995.
Favourites/joint-favourites have won six.
Fourteen have returned 14-1 or shorter.
Three-year-olds have won just three from a small number of runners.
How the race might be run:
Lancelot Du Lac (15), Solar Flair (6), Hoof It (4) are all likely to force the pace, which will suit those held up on the far side.
There are numerous runners who usually race prominently but, among the high numbers, no obvious front-runners, which means those drawn low are likely to have an advantage. I would be surprised if most of the field did not migrate to the far side.
Projection is likely to race prominently, as he did in the Wokingham, as there is unlikely to be much pace on the stands’ side where he is drawn.
Growl has a good draw and is likely to be held up, like he was in this race last year. He will also benefit from a strong pace on the far side.
Intisaab (1), Duke Of Firenze (13), Danzeno (16), Mobsta (23), Sir Dancealot (24) and Polybius (25) are all hold-up performers.
The ground and the draw are going to be major factors in this race. Danzeno will handle conditions and won with a bit to spare at Ascot last month. He’s sure to go close with Silvestre De Sousa on board despite having a 6lb penalty for that win.
Growl signalled a return to form when sixth in the Group One July Cup at Newmarket last month and is now a general 12-1 chance, having been available at 40-1 earlier this week. He’s well drawn and went close in this race last year.
There should be more to come from Projection, who beat a few of these in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot. The ground is an unknown but if he copes with the conditions, he will run a big race.