Roger Varian has evidently developed a taste for sprint handicaps. Having won the Wokingham at Royal Ascot with Cape Byron, the trainer now tilts at the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood on Saturday with Flavius Titus (3.40), another horse who was racing over further last year but has been transformed by six furlongs.
He put up a career best to beat 14 rivals at Newmarket on his April reappearance and bettered that on the July Course two months later. He did not win by far on either occasion but gives the impression there is more to come and this cavalry charge can bring it out of him. He appears to go well fresh.
Khaadem comes from a stable that won this with a three-year-old in 2015 but he runs from a mark 5lb higher than Magical Memory had. Baron Bolt makes some each-way appeal with the blinkers on for the first time.
1.50 Goodwood He is known as a specialist five-furlong type but Duke Of Firenze has not had many chances on a sharp six furlongs and the ground here should be helpfully quick, so long as the life has not been watered out of it after three course records on Friday. Backing a 10-year-old on the Flat may be off-putting to some but the chestnut has been in fine form this season, winning twice and going close here earlier in the week. He was only beaten a couple of lengths in the Stewards Cup three years ago, is 9lb lower now and may be worth risking at 20-1.
2.05 Newmarket The Ribblesdale was a tough first attempt at this distance for Shambolic, who probably wants a faster surface than she met that day and was well beaten. This Listed contest looks a lot more attractive for her. The likely favourite, Bella Vita, has been well treated in handicaps but this is a tougher contest.
2.25 Goodwood Joe Fanning is unbeaten in seven rides on King’s Advice, so he has to stick with him here, but Mark Johnston has found an able backup for his supposed second string. Frankie Dettori climbs aboard Charles Kingsley, a progressive four-year-old who relished the step up to this distance last month and can go in again.
2.40 Newmarket There should be plenty more to come from Mia Diva, now that she steps up to six furlongs for the first time. John Quinn’s filly is surely well treated.
3.00 Goodwood It’s interesting to see Aidan O’Brien running three in this Lillie Langtry, a race he has never won. But his South Sea Pearl has a lot of improving to do to figure here and Dramatic Queen looks a safer play. She was narrowly bested by Enbihaar in the Lancashire Oaks but now gets 3lb from that rival and this longer trip may help.