Since 1978 only one horse carrying ten stone has won the Stewards’ Cup. The last dual winner of the race completed the double in 1968. The link is that Hoof It set the weight-carrying record and the horse has a live chance to win the highlight of the fifth and final day of Glorious Goodwood again.
Hoof It won the Stewards’ Cup in 2011 and it’s rare for a horse to win a competitive handicap twice with a six-year gap between each race. Hoof It has dropped down the handicap and is now set to carry 13 pounds less than when winning the Stewards Cup the first time. The horse also won the consolation race last year.
Hoof It is part owned by golfer Lee Westwood who will miss the race because of the small matter of playing in a world golf championship tournament in the States. Chubby Chandler is also involved with Hoof It but Westwood has recently left his management company which would make things awkward if they had to share a platform for the prize giving if their horse prevailed.
The Stewards’ Cup has a rare procedure for setting the starting stalls. Horses are drawn and connections select a stall in turn. Most of the market leaders were drawn early and high numbers were selected. There is no draw advantage on the straight track at Goodwood but the perception is that high numbered stalls are best.
Projection is the ante post favourite and that horse will break from stall 27 in a race that has attracted a full field of 28 runners. Projection was third in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot carrying nine stone three pounds and carries three pounds more at Goodwood. It’s debatable whether Projection can beat Hoof It with a five-pound weight disadvantage. Sir Dancelot has a manageable weight and could figure.
Hoof It is aged ten and no horse older than six has won the Stewards’ Cup in the last 20 years. The last three winners carried less than nine stone so Hoof It has to overcome the trends to win the big Goodwood handicap again. Obviously, however, the course and distance winner has successfully handled the layout in the past. Hoof It has two wins from three career starts at the Sussex track.
At his very best Hoof It produced a BHA rating of 119 but ran to 100 last time out in July. In theory, the horse is six pounds wrong at the ratings but they are not an exact science. In the last five races Hoof It has matched or improved on his rating from the previous race. That fact suggests the horse is slowly recapturing better form and that process can continue this weekend.
Some horses struggle in big field handicaps and luck in running is even more important in sprints. Hoof It has handled big fields and excelled when surrounded by many horses closely matched in a handicap. Westwood might not win the Bridgestone Invitational but his horse can win the Stewards’ Cup.