Former England striker Michael Owen is no stranger to big Cup wins. Get a good draw and your chances of reaching the latter stages are greatly enhanced. Get a bad draw and you’re toast before you’ve even started.
The draw is likely to have an equally big influence on Saturday’s £250,000 Stewards’ Cup (3.35pm) at Goodwood as Owen oversaw the draw ceremony on Thursday.
Trainers were given the chance to select their own stall and a place beside either rail was in vogue, with a berth in the middle worse than drawing Manchester United in the first round. Connections of ante-post favourite Projection will be hoping to avoid a cup upset and his draw in stall 27 of 28 would appear to be a plus. He shaped well when fifth in the consolation for this race 12 months ago and looks the one to beat from a mark just 2 lb higher than when producing a career-best third in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot in June. Danzeno and his old rival Polybius are others to consider in what looks a typically competitive renewal.
The consolation race, the Qatar Stewards’ Sprint Handicap (1.50pm), looks equally difficult to solve, though there is plenty to like about the chances of the three-year-old Scorching Heat. He arrives here in top form – yet to finish out of the first three in five starts this season – and remains less exposed than most in this field. His proven ability to act on soft ground is another positive. Manshood and The Wagon Wheel, who spearheads a quartet of runners for Richard Fahey, are feared most of the remainder.
Neymar’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain has attracted plenty of headlines in recent days, with the £200 million paid to Barcelona a world record. There’s less prize money on offer in the Qatar Summer Handicap (2.25pm), but those looking for a topical winner could do worse than side with the Richard Hughes-trained Getback In Paris.
Hughes rode this track arguably better than any other jockey and Getback In Paris, who arrives here on the back of a good second at Ascot, would appear to hold sound claims as he attempts to give his trainer a first winner of the week. Shraaoh looks best of the remainder under Frankie Detttori.
Finally, the draw is likely to be of much less significance in the Gordon Stakes (3.00pm). Only five runners going to post for a contest that has been won by subsequent Group 1 winners Noble Mission, Highland Reel and Ulysses in recent years.
The latter was giving trainer Sir Michael Stoute a ninth victory in this race 12 months ago and Stoute is represented by Crystal Ocean as he attempts to complete what Real Madrid fans would call ‘La Decima’. The three-year-old should prove tough to beat if building on the promise of his third at Royal Ascot last time.