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A THORNY ISSUE: Sticking with Fashion


A THORNY ISSUE: Sticking with Fashion

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ONCE MY MIND IS MADE UP, that’s it. As a result, I’m sticking with my earlier call that Just A Fashion is good enough to win the Sandy Lane Gold Cup.

Nothing much happened in between the Coolmore Stakes And Trophy and now to force me to alter my position, so I have no reason to switch.

Except, of course, that we didn’t know which horses Ken Ramsey and his wife Sarah were bringing for the prestigious event.

We could have assumed that they would enter quality horses for the mere fact that they want to defend with pride the overwhelming triumph they had last year with the now deceased Major Marvel.

Ken was quoted as saying that he was given royal treatment on his first visit to the island and he felt obliged to come back.

I think it is a given that he wants to add a second Gold Cup to the long list of honours he has attained in his racing career.

In this respect, he has entered Gentleman’s Kitten and Slayer’s Creek.

I spoke to Ramsey last week and I got the impression he thinks that Gentleman’s Kitten has the better chance of his two charges of making his dream come true.

The front-runner has 16 career starts, winning five of them. Two of those wins came last year over nine and eight furlongs, respectively. The bay colt placed second in his only outing in January.

Slayer’s Creek won three races last year and has had a third place this year.

In addition, both animals will be partnered by top jockeys. Patrick Husbands, who guided Major Marvel to the easiest of triumphs last year, has the leg up on Gentleman’s Kitten and Rico Walcott is aboard Slayer’s Creek.

If there’s one question mark hanging over the Ramseys’ horses, it’s whether or how well they will handle the tight Garrison track, but their pedigree does not seem to be in question, so I expect them to be competitive.

The Hopefield Stables of Sir David Seale is mounting a three-pronged attack on a race he has won more than any other owner.

If we consider that stable jockey Anderson Trotman has opted to ride Marcus Antonius, it is a given that he favours this one over the other two.

Marcus has won four of his ten starts, including two over the Gold Cup nine-furlong distance so this puts him in the picture as a main contender. He should be in the mix coming into the lane.

Daunting David looks like presumably Hopefield’s second best chance and he too has already won over the distance. Therefore, he can’t be discounted either.

Not long ago, Aristodemus was the king of the Hopefield barn but injury has slowed him down considerably and he doesn’t appear to be a major factor at this stage. I think this is good because the attention won’t be on him and it leaves room for the element of surprise to kick in.

Top trainer Victor Cheeseman told me late last year that if top overseas horses didn’t come for the 34th running of the Gold Cup, his charge Sirius Black could win it. He must have been even more convinced of that after placing a very close second to Just A Fashion in the Coolmore. This time the top creole will be receiving three pounds from the local favourite and it might make a big difference in a race of this magnitude.

Like Just A Fashion, Sirius Black hasn’t seen any racing action since the Coolmore, but Cheeseman is so highly regarded that nobody would dare ask if he has his strategy right. In fact, since Sirius’ last outing many people have told me that he will be the first Bajan horse home. This is a quality creole his connections hope will join that elite band of Incitatus and Federico in winning a Gold Cup.

I believe that Knight Rider showed more promise for the corresponding period last year and if you recall I was very sweet on him so I wouldn’t mind if I get the surprise that didn’t materialise in 2014.

I read Linden Yarde’s glowing assessment of Indiano Jones and I will take his word that he has the ability to beat the field.

This brings me full circle to say that despite everything that has been said and written, I am staying in the corner of Just A Fashion. He has done everything asked of him in the past – ten wins from 13 starts, copes on any kind of going, runs from the front or just off the pace and has won at nine furlongs. Plus he has a top reinsman in Jalon Samuel astride.

These are the reasons I’m stuck in my ways in calling this Gold Cup.

Not even the so-called Coolmore bogey can make me change my mind!

Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist. Email [email protected]