Dorsett will be hunting a third straight Gold Cup triumph today. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
A high-speed chase between odds-on favourite Shining Copper, and dual Gold Cup winner and Horse Of The Year for 2017, Dorsett, is expected in the 37th running of the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup at the historic Garrison Savannah from around 4:30 p.m, Saturday.
Raging favourite Shining Copper has been in great form and has done all that has been asked of him by American owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, and appears ready for the 1 800 metres assignment as he seeks his fourth successive victory and glory to his connections in possibly a new Gold Cup record time.
In his most recent races he has kept company with his opponents, only to soften them up at the finish.
Should jockey Rafael Hernandez cut him loose at the beginning, then it will be interesting to see how far the others let him go, or to see who is brave enough to test him early.
Just A Fashion and Infrared are the likely ones who could find themselves caught in a tornado caused by Shining Copper but this may not be the best strategy for those two to maximise their chances.
Should that scenario play out then the closers like Dorsett and Sir Dudley Digges will fancy their chances of coming with a late rattle.
Dorsett, on each of his two trips to the winner’s enclosure, in this race, has displayed a tremendous turn of foot in conditions that were set up for the late run.
Steve and Allan Madoo’s Dorsett has some form going into the race and looks in good shape. He will be ridden by the experienced Darryl Holland, who is no stronger to the Garrison, having won the 2010 Tanglewood Stakes with Walk On By, on Gold Cup Day.
Should Shining Copper fail at this massive undertaking, then the Ramseys and trainer Mike Maker, who are after their third Gold Cup triumph, will be banking on Sir Dudley Digges to deliver. Since his Queen’s Plate success he has managed four wins from 13 starts at various tracks.
The booking of Jalon Samuel is a big advantage and increases his chances as this young talented jockey is no stranger to Gold Cup success, having scored twice on Dorsett in the last two editions. He knows the Garrison track better than most and is always able to get the best from his mounts.
Sir Dudley Digges’ laid back style plays right into Samuel’s strength; he will need to be at his sharpest to cope with this test. The atmosphere will be electric and the surroundings noisy, so it will help that he has an ice-cool pilot.
Choosing from the rest of the field is like the proverbial lottery.
Campaigners Gold has been going well at exercise but seems to lack the class to win a race of this magnitude. Infrared has been found wanting in Stakes races before but is an honest sort and will give his best.
Just A Fashion has not shown he has the heart for this battle and will have many doubters. Won Grand, at his weight will look to spring a surprise and could fight it out for the minor placings.
Marcus Antonius does not seem to be in the type of shape to win a Gold Cup and will need to conjure up some magic to be anywhere near to front at the finish.
The day’s 11-race programme starts at 12 noon. (LY)