Robert Winston on the Stewards Cup, Withhold, Librisa Breeze and more

LAST YEAR Lancelot Du Lac landed the Stewards’ Cup under Frankie Dettori and he is back for another crack at the race this weekend.

Jockey Robert Winston is in the saddle this time around as he bids to build on what has been a good season for the rider.

We spoke to Winston about his chances in the Stewards’ Cup as well as getting updates on some of his leading chances for the rest of the season,

What do you think a horse needs to succeed at Goodwood?

You need a horse that has a high cruising speed and is very well balanced. Your horse needs to be able to adapt to running down hill and around sharp turns, so you often need a very tough individual. The more willing your horse the better your chances.

Dean Ivory is your main supporter and is a dab hand with sprinters. What do you think makes him so good with such horses?

He’s a very good trainer and he’s never leaves a stone unturned. His horses are well fed, he has a full-time physio in there and the horses are always checked over and given the best of everything. He can read a horse very well and I’ve seen that several times. He spoils his horses too, which is always nice to see.

You ride last year’s winner Lancelot Du Lac in the Stewards’ Cup over stablemate Eirene. Why is that?

The weight is the main reason I’m riding Lancelot Du Lac but he’s also the defending champion. He’s proven at the track and is back down to a winning mark. Good ground will be fine for him.

Lancelot Du Lac winning the 2017 Stewards Cup


Speaking of Eirene, what do you make of her chances?

Eirene is highly thought of. It was a good run in the Nell Gwyn earlier this season and at Ascot the time after that she wasn’t right in herself, almost like she’d lost her way a bit. We’ve got every faith in her that she’ll land a big prize, although she’d ideally like a little more rain for this race.

You start the day by riding in the Stewards’ Cup consolation race. How much of an impact will the result have on how you ride in the main race?

It’s always a tricky one but ultimately it comes down to where the pace is. There are times when the tracks are watered that it can be a bit uneven and strips are left that are a bit quicker, but generally the pace dictates what happens in a race.

You won the Northumberland Plate on Withhold last time. What do you think of him?

He’s a very talented horse. He was quite impressive in the Northumberland Plate the way he picked up off his own pace and galloped on so strongly. The plan had been to take a lead, but I said to everyone that if I’m in front don’t worry as it means they’re going no pace. I couldn’t believe they just left me alone and he did it easy.

Do you think he will handle the Melbourne Cup?

He goes in quick conditions and has plenty of pace. He looks to have a nice weight for the race too. There are questions around whether he’ll acclimatise etc, but I think the plan is he’ll go there early to give him the chance to acclimatise.

Librisa Breeze is in action in the Prix Maurice de Gheest on Sunday. How are things with him?

The ground is always important to him. Hopefully it’ll be good and that’ll be helpful, although it’s hard to know with the heatwaves around at the moment. We think he’s in good shape for the race and his ultimate aim is Ascot on Champions Day. It’s the obvious place for him.

Librisa Breeze (Robert Winston) wins the 2017 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes


And, finally, how are things with Ebor candidate Stratum?

He was quietly fancied for the Ascot Stakes but from start to finish everything went ‘Pete Tong’ for him. Despite all that he still ran a credible third and he was the eyecatcher of the race. He was dropped to two miles at Newbury on a lovely, galloping track and he got the pace he needed. Mr [Willie] Mullins put on a hood, a grackle noseband and a ring bit and he settled much better. I was taken with how he picked up and galloped relentlessly to the line, which is typical of one of Willie’s.


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