Tuesday, 24 July 2012
: Prime Defender is targeting the £100,000 Blue Square Bet Stewards' Cup, which takes place over six furlongs on the final day of Glorious Goodwood, Saturday, August 4, 2012.
The eight-year-old proved himself a high-class sprinter with Barry and Charlie Hills over the past few seasons - winning the Group Two Duke Of York Stakes in 2010 - and is back in training with Michael Appleby after an unsuccessful time at Hedgeholme Stud earlier this year.
On his penultimate start of 2011, the son of Bertolini was beaten less than six lengths when seventh in the Group Two QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot in October.
Appleby, who trains at Compton Verney, Stratford-upon-Avon, said: "Prime Defender is a possible for the Blue Square Bet Stewards' Cup.
"He has been pleasing us at home. We had a few little problems with him, but he seems to be over them now. It's likely he will run at York this Saturday and then he will go on to the Blue Square Bet Stewards' Cup after that.
"He was retired and went off to stud at the end of the last season, but he didn't get many mares so the owners decided to put him back in training.
"He was in good form last year and I think he can win handicaps off his current mark of 105, which is why we are going the handicap route instead of going for Listed and Group races.
"If he did win a handicap, he would obviously go up in the ratings and then we will look at some Listed and Group Three races.
"I think he goes on any ground really. He wouldn't want it too soft as he has won on good to firm and good ground, but he does also have form on good to soft ground so he is just very versatile.
"The horses are in great form at the moment and it's nice to have horse of Prime Defender's ability as well."
Prime Defender, who went off 11/2 favourite for the Blue Square Bet Stewards' Cup in 2008 when he finished 12th, is currently 40/1 with race sponsor Blue Square Bet for the six-furlong contest. He has been allotted 9st 5lb.
Blue Square Bet have 14/1 co-favourites of seven including William Haggas' Windsor scorer Cape Classic, James Fanshawe's lightly raced filly Hallelujah, who was third in the Group Three Summer Stakes on July 13, and Wokingham Handicap runner-up Waffle.
Seamus Buckley, Clerk of the Course at Goodwood, reported today that the ground is in excellent condition ahead of Glorious Goodwood with the recent spell of warm, dry weather helping the course.
Buckley said: "I have walked the course today and am delighted to report that it is in excellent condition.
"At present, the going is just on the slower side of good and by the weekend it should be lovely good ground.
"The forecast is for the fine and warm weather to continue for the next three days, while on Friday there is the chance of a shower, which should help to keep the ground fresh. The heat is helping the growth of grass and there is a good covering.
"We are in the right place and just where we want to be with Glorious Goodwood getting underway in just over a week's time.
"We have had some torrential rain this summer but we are a fast-draining course and the work of the groundstaff in spiking and aerating the course has proved invaluable."