Goodwood Festival: Commanche Falls becomes first horse for 54 years to defend Stewards’ Cup title

Commanche Falls showed plenty of guts to became the first horse since Sky Diver in 1967 and 1968 to win back-to-back renewals of the Coral Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.

In a typically competitive renewal the action played out on the stand side, with those drawn in the high numbers filling the first five places home.

The 150/1 shot, and eventual fourth, Good Eye led the bunch on the near side for a long way, but it was the defending champion who loomed large as the field passed the final furlong marker.

Hollie Doyle soon pulled Tabdeed out to mount a challenge and Archie Watson’s charge gave Commanche Falls plenty to think about in the closing stages as the duo became embroiled in a duel to the line.

But it was Michael Dods’ five-year-old who stuck his head down when it mattered most for Connor Beasley, who also rode him 12 months ago, to become the sixth horse overall to double up in the prestigious six-furlong sprint.

Beasley said: “I wanted to be behind the back of the pace, but when I rousted him along to get there I’ve hit the front way too soon. He just idled in front, but when Hollie came to his quarters he stuck his neck out.

“It’s fantastic for all connections and the team back at home. I’m over the moon.

Commanche Falls battles to the front in a dramatic Stewards’ Cup

“He’s got a big, long neck on him and a big stride and I just felt that when I asked him again when Hollie came to me I felt he stretched his neck out again. I was quietly confident that we’d won, but you can never be too sure when it’s that close.

“He’s only run a couple of times this season, but when I sat on him on Wednesday I was very happy.

“He seems to roll with the cambers here and springs to life. He did a bit of a fly leap at the start but was soon in a good position.

“I’ve ridden 59 winners since January and this one is very special. For the boss and everyone back at Denton Hall it’s great that they got the horse back here and he loves it here. It’s great.”

Marquand the main man again on Many A Star

Many A Star (pink cap) wins at Goodwood under Tom Marquand
Many A Star (pink cap) wins at Goodwood under Tom Marquand

The Tom Marquand-ridden Many A Star shaded the verdict in a three-way finish to the Coral Stewards’ Sprint Handicap, a consolation race for the Stewards’ Cup.

Magnolia Cup winner Dark Shot came close to making every yard of the running for the second time this week, but was swallowed up by the 8/1 winner and runner-up The Lamplighter in the shadow of the post.

Oliver Cole, who trains the winner in partnership with his father, Paul, said: “He’d been quite busy before his last race at Newmarket where there wasn’t enough pace for him.

“We decided to give him six weeks off, during which time he put on some condition.

“Today the idea was to tuck in and get him cover but Tom couldn’t manage that from his awkward draw. He would get that (cover) in the Ayr Gold Cup but the ground would have to be quick.”

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