There is a quiet confidence in the camp of champion Dancin David that he can keep hold of the Sandy Lane Gold Cup, the country’s most prestigious horse race, which will be run off at Garrison Savannah tomorrow.
Barbados Turf Club president Sir David Seale is the owner of the defending champion and a second entrant, Aristodemus. His son, Richard, has been speaking about their chances.
“Dancin David’s preparation obviously was affected by his injury,”?Richard Seale told WEEKENDSPORT. “However he was more ahead than we expected in his comeback race than we thought. He is coming around well, but you can never tell with these injuries.
“We are pleased with the way he’s going and the outside draw, though it causes you to use more energy, it also allows the jockey to pick up a good position.”
On Aristodemus, Seale said the horse had improved a lot.
“He has a mind of his own and jockey [Anderson] Trotman has formed a good relationship with him and he decided to stay with him,” he added.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get in the work as we would have liked in the Coolmore but I’m pleased to say he going extremely well.”
When asked who he saw as his competition, Seale mentioned that Discreetwon was improving, Apostle could not be written off and he believed Daga had a good chance.
“I find it very hard to see any horse outside of those winning,” he added.
Bill Blevins, owner of Giovedi and Graeme Hill, indicated that the track surface looked better than last year. He described it as good to firm, going preferred by his horses.
“Giovedi is fresh from a spectacular win and looks to have a very decent chance. That win was a pipe opener for him to boost his confidence.”
On Graeme Hill, Blevins said: “It is always a problem with horses coming back after knee surgery. I was worried he was so far back in his last start but he finished fourth, which shows his stamina.
“Once his head is right, he is one to watch as his strength in the last quarter of the race means he will stay on well the further they go.”
In terms of challengers, Blevins said they were all good horses.
He added: “Dancin David is the champion. He would prefer the soft track and looks very fit. Apostle is going to take off upfront (but) he is not a young man anymore and we’ll see if he can sustain his run but he is a wonderful horse.”
Lord [Michael] Taylor, speaking for Blue Diamond Racing, sang the praises of his trainer Anderson Ward for his total dedication and commitment even “when we weren’t winning”.
“I never doubted his ability,” Taylor said. “Andy eats, sleeps and lives these horses. He deserves the reward. I have great respect for all the trainers here but Andy, who is one of the best riders Barbados has produced, is special. I will never turn my back on him.”
He also remarked on the coincidence of Show Me The Money drawing No. 1 three times.
“He is remarkably fit, muscled up and is a relentless galloper. It’s an intriguing race, very open but I’m a believer in horses for courses.”
Taylor also indicated that Daga was a fantastic horse which trained off and had a bout of fever.
“She has suddenly sprouted wings. Once given a reasonable run, if she can repeat her Coolmore “Home Of Champions” Stakes & Trophy efforts, she has every chance of coming through and winning the Gold Cup,” Taylor said.
“I’m optimistic but I’m a realist where racing is concerned. That being said, anything can happen in racing.”
When the question of threats was posed, Taylor said quite frankly: “If Apostle is going to win a Gold Cup this is his race to win. He could have it his own way if no one takes him on.
“If I didn’t win it, I would love for Apostle to win. He has been fantastic for horse racing. He is a wonderful horse. If I had to own another horse in the race I would want it to be Apostle.”
Jalon Samuel, the last jockey to win the Gold Cup, will this year partner Discreetwon.
Samuel indicated that the horse was in good form and shape.
“Hopefully, I will get him where I want him positioned,” he said.
When asked about his choice compared to Dancin David, he said: “I’m not saying that Dancin David won’t run a good race but I like my horse.”
Samuel also likes Aristodemus and Apostle.
Young apprentice jockey Antonio Perch will be the only rider having his first Gold Cup ride, having got the call on Graeme Hill for owners Bill and Haley Blevins and trainer Jonathon Simpson.
Perch said he was ecstatic at the opportunity.
“My horse is working and feeling well, comfortable all around and handling himself well,” he said.
“I will be giving it my best shot. With the Gold Cup being our biggest race I just want to stick close and see what my horse has in the end.”