Nicholls and Fahey go head-to-head in bid for Stewards Cup glory

THE king of the sprinters, Dandy Nicholls, prepared for a tilt at the Stewards Cup by recording a famous one-two at Glorious Goodwood yesterday.

The North Yorkshire trainer is triple-handed in today's six-furlong feature, a race that he first won a decade ago with Tayseer before Gift Horse's triumph five years ago.

And, judging by his knack of winning this prestigious handicap every five years, it would be foolhardy to overlook Nicholls's charges – Striking Spirit, Evens And Odds and Sonny Red – judging by the form of his string this week.

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Nicholls won Thursday's finale with Harmoody before 28-1 outsider Joseph Henry, ridden by the pint-sized David Probert, scored down the centre of the course to beat stablemate and joint-favourite Victoire De Lyphar in the Rolf Group Stewards' Sprint Handicap, a 27-runner precursor to today's betting highlight.

"It means a lot to the owners to have winners here, it means a lot to everyone," said Nicholls.

"Joseph Henry is an experienced horse while the other is just a three-year-old and is just learning his trade.

"I think it's the first time I've even spoken to David but if he's good enough to ride for Andrew Balding, he's good enough to ride for me. I sort of inherited Victoire De Lyphar (formerly trained by Pat Haslam). He's a very nice young horse and I think he could end up being one of the best I've had."

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Yorkshire is well-represented in the Stewards Cup; Richard Fahey is responsible for five of the entries in the race that he won in 1998 with Superior Premium when his training career was in its infancy.

Knot In Wood, who has twice finished third, is burdened with top weight, while last Saturday's Ascot winner Castles In The Air, Kaldoun Kingdom, Johannes and Prime Exhibit complete the Fahey nap-hand.

"They are all in good order. I don't know how Paul Hanagan picked one, to be honest, but he's decided on Castles In The Air," said Fahey who was understandably disappointed with his Royal Ascot winner, Marine Commando, finishing last.

"Knot In Wood is a star and if he was to finally win it I'm sure no-one would begrudge him, he keeps running well.

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"Kaldoun Kingdom ran a blinder at York and he's gone up 4lb so if the handicapper has got it right he is well-in and must have a chance."

Mark Johnston's Sea Lord could reappear at Glorious Goodwood today less than 24 hours after winning the Totesport Mile, yesterday's feature, under Royston Ffrench.

"It's still a possibility. We've got a bit of thinking to do," said the Middleham trainer. "This horse should be out of handicaps, but the lure of the prize-money persuaded us to go for this."

Tom Queally insists he would not swap Breeders Cup heroine Midday for any of her rivals when she bids to secure back-to-back successes in the Blue Square Nassau Stakes.

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The four-year-old was an impressive winner of the Group One contest 12 months ago, but in much softer conditions than those she will encounter today.

Henry Cecil's filly was a fine second to old foe Sariska on her seasonal reappearance at York, but Queally believes Midday's training is timed perfectly.

"She has been impressing at home and providing the ground's okay, she goes there with a massive chance," he said.