Gifted Master prevails in Stewards’ Cup classic

Gifted Master defied top weight and advertised the claims of apprentice jockey Jason Watson when winning a thrilling Unibet Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.

Hugo Palmer’s five-year-old has won over a variety of trips in his career, but has mostly been campaigned in Group company.

He had won his only other handicap start at Newmarket earlier this season and Palmer’s decision to take 5lb off with Watson paid dividends.

Usually a front-runner, he was headed at halfway by Justanotherbottle and Declan Carroll’s charge ended up nearer the stands rail than the winner, who was drawn in stall 25.

The pair flashed across the line together, but Gifted Master (20-1) got the verdict by a short head.

Growl, having his third run in the race, was third with Solar Flair fourth.

Palmer said: “This is a Group Three/Group Two horse and a really solid 110-112 performer and what is amazing is that he has come back and done it each year.

“He was headed and looked beaten for a couple of strides, but he came back.

“Any winner at these big meetings is worth 20 anywhere else.

“When you consider he was our first two-year-old winner and has won at three, four and now a Stewards’ Cup at five, it’s incredible.

“A huge word for the jockey, too, it’s been the plan for a long time. I spoke to his agent three weeks ago about booking him, but I was getting nervous as he edged towards a 3lb claim.

“I think I’d probably have let him ride him still, but he clearly wouldn’t have won with 2lb more.

“Who knows where next? Maybe the Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket, he might have lost his penalty by then.

“He’s been a massive part of my career, which doesn’t happen to many trainers. He’s won so much prize money and has won between five furlongs and a mile.”

Watson added: “I wasn’t sure I’d won. On form he was the best horse and I’m absolutely delighted.

“I wasn’t even sure until I got closer to the chute coming back in as I didn’t hear them announce it and then lads were screaming.

“I walked the track earlier and the ground is pretty much untouched in the middle, so I just went for the better ground and he loved every minute.

“It’s a great feeling. I had the opportunity to Foxtrot Lady but fair play to Mr (Andrew) Balding and my agent Tony Hind, we all had a chat and riding for another big yard was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.”

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