Stewards’ Cup now the target for York winner First Folio

James Ferguson’s York winner First Folio will be saved for a crack at Goodwood’s Unibet Stewards’ Cup.

First Folio and Daniel Muscutt coming home to win the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York Racecourse. Picture: Tim Goode/PA.
First Folio and Daniel Muscutt coming home to win the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York Racecourse. Picture: Tim Goode/PA.

The three-year-old won what is traditionally a hot handicap on the Knavesmire last month, and already the form is stacking up – with the seventh home Bickerstaffe winning at Ascot and runner-up Blackrod scoring at Newmarket last week.

Ferguson has studied the past few renewals of the Stewards’ Cup and estimates First Folio’s mark of 98 should be sufficient enough to get him in the race. As a result, he is quite happy to stay patient until the end of this month.

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“I think he’s more of a horse for next year, so I didn’t think there was a need to run him that much as a three-year-old,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“He came out of York well – and to be honest, I was just very happy to wait for the Stewards’ Cup. That’s the plan.

“Looking at the last few years, he should get in off his current rating, so I just didn’t feel the need to run again.

“He’s a horse who likes a bit of firmness in the ground, so the recent rain would have put me off anyway.

“With both Blackrod and Bickerstaffe winning decent races since, his form has been franked, but that York race is generally strong every year.

“His times have been very good. Fingers crossed we can get him there in one piece, and fingers crossed he gets in.”

Earlswood is on a summer break following his decent effort when fourth to Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby.

The son of Pivotal had a troubled passage in the colts’ Classic at the Curragh yet belied his odds of 28-1 with a big run.

He had earned his place in that exalted line-up by winning the Group Three Gallinule Stakes at the same track in May.

“He’s good and has gone on a little break,” said Murtagh.

“I’m not sure where we’ll go with him. We’re going to speak to the owner and get a plan for the autumn.”

Earlswood holds an entry in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger back at the Curragh in September.

Murtagh is also allowing sprinter Urban Beat a holiday after ending a busy spell with a creditable third to Winter Power in the City Walls Stakes at York on Saturday.

“He ran well. The filly that won (Winter Power) looked good,” said the County Kildare handler.

“We’re going to give him a break now. He’s been busy so we’re going to give him a break and freshen him up and get him back in the autumn.”

Murtagh revealed Fourhometwo has left his yard to continue his career in Australia. The Ajaya gelding ended his spell with Murtagh on a high by winning the Listed Celebration Stakes at the Curragh.

“The owners have taken him to Australia and he’s going to continue his career out there,” he said.