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A THORNY ISSUE: Lots of Gold Cup hype

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: Lots of Gold Cup hype

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OLD?TIME?something come back again. It sounds and feels like we are in for an old school Sandy Lane Gold Cup.
I haven’t sensed such eagerness among turfites in donkey years.
The kind of interest I am seeing takes me back to the formative years of this great race.
Everywhere I turn, I’m being asked: which horse will win the Gold Cup? Do you think Barbados has a good chance? Do you think David Seale can win three years in a row?
And what about the American horse?
Trust me, it is just as intense in my household. In recent days I have played the role of moderator, devil’s advocate and have even been forced to be a psychic.
All the signs of frenzy, anticipation and emotionalism associated with back in the day are surfacing.
On the last race day I met an Irish couple who cursed their luck because they won’t be here on account of booking their passage to coincide with the first Saturday in March which is traditonally Gold Cup day.
It is what they were used to like the rest of us, the only difference is that most of us knew that this year it had been switched to the second Saturday.
I was at NAPSAC last week and during the course of some very fine performances from our primary school athletes, out of the blue a youngster shouted: Mr Thornhill put your money on Areutalkintome in the Gold Cup!
And I might follow his advice too.
Just saying this is the atmosphere people of my vintage saw as natural behaviour on the threshold of earlier Gold Cups.
In recent years there was definitely a dent in its national appeal because primarily some started to see it as just another glamourized nine-furlong event with the same Bajan horses competing against themselves.
Some fans wanted to see owners import some new stock or foreign interests return by sending what we term as a “big horse” in local parlance.
I agreed because it was starting to become too run-of-the-mill.
Alas, it seems we are having an exciting diversion in 2014 and that’s why the race is a hot topic, with expectation great.
Enters North American prospect Major Marvel and suddenly it appears that mild anticipation has turned into an equine epidemic of intrigue that will spread like wildfire.
I won’t be surprised if we get a crowd of over 10 000.
Major Marvel’s record has put some fear in the heart of local turfites.
Eight wins out of nine races last year means that he has something special going for him.
He has run in grade races but I say bring him on. Hopefully, we would have the battalion to deal with him.
The epic race can be weighed in the balance if stiff overseas competition isn’t provided for the best we have in Barbados. The foreign invasion tests their true pedigree and quality.
There’s even word that the Trinidadian entrant Nominee will also be a major contender given his recent form. He won his last start in a blaze of glory.
In recent years they haven’t sent anything close to the class of Bold Lewis or Frisky Wharf but I get the feeling Nominee can roll back the golden years of Trinidadian horses in the classic.
Despite all of the hype brewing from outside, I think our charges are good enough to compete with them. Defending champion Aristodemus will lead the local charge even if he hasn’t looked himself in the two races since a long lay off. Still, I won’t discount him especially if there’s a lot of give in the going.
Jakesam turned in his maiden certificate in his last outing. If he repeats that form he will be in the shake up.
Shared Adventure is going into the unknown having never run 1800 metres but can be a factor if the going is firm.
The sentimental favourite among locals will surely be Areutalkintome but his chance of winning depends on how well he handles what is expected to be a bruising battle among the frontrunners like himself, Shared Adventure and Major Marvel which will be partnered by the brilliant Patrick Husbands.
Jalon Samuel has a chequered history in this event but he’s always up for a challenge so his mount Discreetwon shouldn’t be discounted.
Gulfstream-based Dashing David could be the spoiler and the season’s top jockey Reshawn Latchman has the leg up.
However, I’m very sweet on Knight Rider. He’s the last derby winner, is well rested and will definitely get the distance.
A lot will depend, though, on the tactics of Antonio Bishop. I think he needs to be just off the pace because if the battle for the lead evolves as we expect, the field should be coming back to Knight Rider in the lane and his late burst should work to his advantage.
Oh and by the way, remember when four-year-olds dominated this race back in the day?
Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning journalist. Email: [email protected]