Samuel shows royal touch
Three in a row. Jalon Samuel showed why he is the best jockey in the country as he etched his name in Gold Cup history by masterfully driving home Sir Dudley Digges to a scintillating half-length victory in the 37th Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup before a massive crowd at the Garrison Savannah yesterday.
The win by the five-year-old dark bay horse, the son of Gio Ponti out of My Pal Lana, gave owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey their third Gold Cup in their fifth appearance.
The Ramsey camp collected their first one-two Gold Cup finish when the hot favourite, Shining Copper, under Rafael Hernandez, failed to survive his stablemate’s onslaught.
When the horses left the gates, Infrared was quickly into stride with Shining Copper, Campaigners Gold and Just A Fashion. Approaching the mile pole, Infrared took over the lead as Hernandez surprisingly opted to rate Shining Copper, a move which was later criticised by Ramsey on social media.
Going down the backstretch, the top four controlled the proceedings, while Sir Dudley Digges and dual Gold Cup winner Dorsett remained among the back markers. After the frontrunner cleared the hill in a measured 1:14.3, the tempo increased. Shining Copper still looked ominous on the inside awaiting room but at his heels came the other Mike Maker trainee, Sir Dudley Digges, who was travelling extremely well.
With only the homestretch before them, Shining Copper joined the rail, leading Infrared for a breathtaking stretch duel. They were swiftly joined by Sir Dudley Digges for a pulsating finish.
Infrared fought magnificently until Shining Copper stuck his head in front at that stage. He was then forced to switch his attention to Sir Dudley Digges, which kept coming.
Like he did last year, Samuel again forced Hernandez to submit to his aggressive driving power. Infrared, under jockey Rasheed Hughes stayed on to cop third several lengths ahead of Dorsett, ridden by Darryl Holland.
The champ was not able to weave himself around the traffic like he did over the past two years.
Samuels’ hat-trick puts him on par with Jonathon Jones, who did the trick with Blast Of Storm in 2000, 2001 and 2002. It also positioned him with Jones, Venice Richards and Patrick Husbands as the Gold Cup’s most successful jockeys on four wins.
There was more history for Samuel as became the second rider, after Husbands, to sweep the feature races on Gold Cup Day.
He started in grand style when he conjured up everything from C.N Parravicino’s four-year-old filly Celestial Storm to win the XV Sandy Lane Spa Sprint Stakes Grade I over 1 100 metres.
The pair closed from way back in the race along the rails after Ramsey’s Kittens Cat under Hernandez had moved to the lead before going terribly wide at the top of the stretch.
In the other Grade I race, the XVI Tanglewood Stakes and Trophy, Northern Star made it eight wins on the trot when he took the field to the cleaners, galloping home by one and three quarter lengths. Northern Star is now the fifth horse to score a double in this supporting feature.
Samuel opened his beaver-trick with an off-the-pace ride astride Bills Inc.’s three-year-old colt Brave Star in the Villa At Sandy Lane Trophy allotted weights race Division B over 1 100 metres. (LY)
American owner Kenneth Ramsey (third left) celebrating his one-two after Sir Dudley Digges with Jalon Samuel (second right), won the event ahead of Shining Copper with Rafael Hernandez up. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)