These fans were appreciative of the action on Gold Cup Day. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
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Sandy Lane Gold Cup Day at the Garrison Savannah last Saturday was a resounding success. For some it was an occasion to meet old friends, for others it was about the pomp, and pageantry. However, to the purist, racing was at its pinnacle.
They certainly got their monies’ worth from their favourite jockey Jalon Samuel who not only gave them another Gold Cup win – this one astride Sir Dudley Digges – but added the Tanglewood Stakes on Northern Star and the Sandy Lane Spa Sprint aboard Celestial Storm.
Having already said so much about the 37th running of the Caribbean’s premier horse race, I’ll just add, the results aside it was a strangely run race. It definitely is not the norm for horses in any of the previous Gold Cups on a good track to see the leading quartet having their horses under heavy restrain. The Gold Cup, to all intents and purposes, is considered an epic nine-furlong sprint.
The main offender to the above statement is jockey Rafael Hernandez astride favourite Shining Copper. From the off, Shining Copper rushed out the gates only to be placed on lockdown by Hernandez one furlong into the race until the runners reached to the two-furlong marker.
This moved even allowed Just A Fashion and Campaigners Gold enough time to drop over in front Shining Copper. Noted for his notorious front speed, Shining Copper’s momentum became restricted and owner Ken Ramsey, although expressing delight with Sir Dudley Digges’ win in an interview, said Samuel did his job perfectly. However what Hernandez did was not the instructions he received.
As one of the leading riders over at Woodbine Race Track over the last two years, Hernandez day started badly when he threw away a sure win in the Sandy Lane Spa Sprint astride Kittens Cat. Travelling best of all at the two furlongs pole in third position, Hernandez moved his charge to the outside securing the lead briefly before the pair kept going wide into the stretch.
This allowed Celestial Storm to close from a very long way back along the rails to win. To add insult to a bad day, it is the third time Hernandez felt the furry of the hometown king Samuel. Last year he went for gold with High Noon Rider before Samuel on Dorsett went by.
While Samuels won four races on the day, trainer Andrew “Busha” Nunes, although having no runners in any of the three features treated himself to a brace.
Nunes’ trained horse King Of Cool, owned by Angela Horney and Lady Williams, hammered the field by nine lengths in the Country Club Trophy Handicap over 1 800 metres. Nunes’ success had started earlier in the 2 200 metres Threehouse Club Handicap where Ameash registered her second career win.
Pamela and Neville Isdell’s Justice League then wired a field in the L’ Acajou Restaurant Trophy Handicap over 1 000 metres. Fellow trainer Victor Cheeseman helped himself to a brace in the day’s opening races. Aysha Syndicate’s Too Much Bling won Division ‘A’ of the Villa at Sandy Lane Trophy. Division ‘B’ went to Bills Inc’s Brave Star.
Saturday success now sets the tempo for next year’s golden show. The clock is ticking. (LY)