Reading between the lines - the Stewards' Cup....

Last Updated: 07.08.2018

Tuesday, 7th August 2018

Reading between the lines – the Stewards’ Cup….

Keep Silent Echo onside....

I certainly will be. I’m putting him on my Watch List....

That’s the first thing to take out of Saturday’s Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood....

I put the 4yo up for the race. I think he advertised himself as an impending winner of a big handicap when finishing 5th in the Wokingham at Ascot’s Royal meeting in June....

His trainer thinks so too....

Peter Hedger was bullish about Silent Echo’s prospects heading into Saturday’s race. In advance of the off he said this....

‘I would be disappointed if he’s not in the first five....’

  • The race just ran away from him....

Bullishness is a funny thing....

In some cases, it can represent over- or misplaced-confidence....

Sometimes the trainer is just using the media to talk to connections and tell them whatever bull-shine they want to hear....

But, for what it’s worth, I reckon Peter Hedger’s assessment was somewhere close to the money....

On Saturday, Silent Echo finished 8th of the 26 runners – beaten 2.5 lengths. But that on-paper outcome doesn’t tell the whole story....

The horse was one of the last three into the stalls and on leaving them he was hampered. Not hugely, but it broke his stride and it took Joe Fanning a little time to get him organized out towards the back. But in these sprints, a little time is crucial....

For my money the horse ran a little too free in the early stages, but he made good progress. It went properly wrong inside the final two furlongs when he didn’t quite get the breaks he needed....

As the two groups of runners on the track came together and merged up the middle, Joe Fanning had to pause his effort to wait for room on Silent Echo. That momentary loss of momentum meant the front-line horses got a few strides further up the track than ideal. Silent Echo ran on nicely – and he wasn’t beaten that far considering – but the race had just got away from him when it mattered most....

For me, it was a good effort – an eye-catching effort....

The horse showed enough to suggest that if he can continue to hold his form and he gets the rub of the green, then he can win one of these big handicaps off a mark of 99....

  • A big player in the sprints off 95....

Glenamoy Lad was having his first run for 247 days on Saturday and, had he got a clearer passage through horses at key points in the race, it is hard to avoid forming the conclusion that he would have finished a hell of a lot closer than he did....

He was out the back early doors under Silvestre De Sousa having exited stall 2 sedately enough, but he moved into contention smoothly before hitting trouble just inside the 2-pole and again at the furlong-pole....

Once De Sousa got him clear of impediments, the 4yo put on a finishing spurt. From a better position it would have been a more telling one. But, on the day, as it transpired, the blockages at key points meant he was coming from a little too far off the pace to get properly involved....

It just didn’t go right on the day. If you hit trouble, get impeded or get denied a clear passage when hitting your stride, it is hard to recover when you’re running out of track at a rate of knots....

You need a bit of good fortune and a fair passage to win one of these big-field sprint handicaps. It must all fall right. Little or nothing can go wrong....

It’s probably true to say that a fair proportion of the big sprint handicap fields can win – if things fall right. But in any one race, it only falls right for some. Never for all....

It didn’t fall right for Glenamoy Lad on Saturday. But Michael Wigham’s charge showed enough on seasonal debut – and with the first-time eye-shields added to the habitual tongue-tie – to suggest he is not rated out of winning one of these big handicaps off 95....

His season is just getting started. He showed last November at Newcastle that he can perform to a high-standard on the AW. On Saturday, he showed plenty to suggest he can do it on turf too.

He is going to be turning out in all the big sprints to come – the Portland at Doncaster, the Ayr Gold Cup and suchlike – and he’s potentially a big player in any or each of those. I’m putting him on the Watch List....

  • Growl – readying himself to go in again....

Growl is another one to take out of this race....

Richard Fahey’s stalwart finished third – beaten 1.6 lengths. That’s the third time in three years that the 6yo has hit the frame in the Goodwood showpiece....

It was another improved performance – certainly his best this term by some margin. He’s improved for every single run this term and this one-time placer in a G1 sprint and is serving notice that he is readying himself to go in for the first time since November 2016....

He is certainly weighted to do so. He ran off a mark of 99 on Saturday. That’s 15lbs off his career high of 114 – which he ran off as recently as May last year....

Fahey is slowly getting this horse back into form. Maybe not the form we saw him produce when he was at his very best. But certainly form that will enable him to strike. He is very dangerously handicapped right now....

A bit of cut is the variable that might bring out what we are looking for. Or, at the very least, some rain that takes the current ultra-sting out of racing surfaces....

Trainer Richard Fahey intimated as much ahead of the weekend when he said: ‘Rain would be in his favour....’

He’s proven a little too unreliable to put on the Watch List. But he is certainly worth running your eye over on a race by race basis. Sooner or later, Fahey will find a race for him....

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

I’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd