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Gold Cup too close to call

Andi Thornhill

Gold Cup too close to call

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We could?have a general election-type finish in the Sandy Lane Gold Cup.
I don’t think there’s an odds-on favourite and that is creating the intrigue in Saturday’s stellar event.
What it suggests is that we can have one of the most competitive Gold Cups in years. This factor could swell the numbers that normally come out to the Garrison.
I would say up front, though, that we need to take stock when for the second consecutive year there will be no international entries. This takes away from the expectation of fans who like to see the true pedigree of local animals tested by those of richer bloodlines and higher ratings.
However, it is what it is and we have to settle for what we have. Race fans are still captivated whenever the top class clash over any distance and the same will prevail on Saturday even though because of the prestige of the race, interest will be much higher than normal.
Dancin David is the defending champion and some respect is due to the incumbent but there’s bound to be some doubt among the pundits about his state of fitness after a lengthy lay-off because of injury.
It is true that he came out on the February 9 race day to get a blow and his sixth place was very commendable in the circumstances given his time off the track. Further, I don’t think his connections would risk him in the brisk pace of a Gold Cup if they weren’t satisfied that he was fit enough to defend his crown.
The word among rail birds is that he worked well last week and should be in the equation when the dust settles. Some “give” in the going will give him substantial assistance.
While the champion was away, stablemate Aristodemus took the spotlight and produced a couple of devastating performances of which Gold Cup winners are made. This big, long striding horse will be looking to strike with a furlong and a half out and then try to own the real estate in the homestretch.
Aristodemus has the presence of a real enforcer and given his way could make his point in the most telling and affirmative fashion.
Some of my friends are very sweet on Discreetwon and on some fairly strong grounds too. This colt won over nine furlongs and placed third in the Coolmore, seen as the last trial for Gold Cup contenders. If it is still a true indicator of possible Gold Cup glory, Discreetwon has just turned four so even age keeps him in the frame.
But one of the biggest factors in his favour is the jockey who will help decide the destiny of the race. He is partnered by Jalon Samuel, who has the knack for winning big races.
Samuel was victorious on Dancin David last year when the horse came off the reserve list and in 2010 many thought he was a tad unfortunate to be disqualified on the original winner Show Me The Money.
In this regard, some waging bets might back Discreetwon partially on form as well as on the pilot on board.
Can 10-year-old Apostle go pole-to-pole especially if the going is firm? I would say ‘yes’ under normal circumstances but he hasn’t raced since November last year so I’m not sure if he will be short of work. Again, the rail birds report that they were impressed with his work last Friday.
I must confess that Apostle is my sentimental favourite but I know all too well any kind of race isn’t decided on sentiment alone.
I dare anyone to discount the chances of the Edward Walcott-trained pair of Erados and Meteorite or even Daga and Show Me The Money from the Anderson Ward stable. How can we forget Geovidi who beat the top class recently over 7.8 furlongs?
Although he ran down the field last year, Just Call Me Roger should represent Trinidad and Tobago’s interest a lot better this time so he will still carry some support as an outsider or a true maverick might risk him in their trifecta and hope for the best.
So, while there’s no official polling for the Gold Cup, it is safe to say that the outcome for Saturday’s running is unpredictable.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning freelance sports journalist.