By Jupiter, Takaoka wants the last Gold over 2200m
Of the 13 trainers (including three with standby starters) taking a stab at Singapore Gold Cup glory this Sunday, one would probably cherish a win a little more than the rest – Hideyuki Takaoka.
The Japanese handler boasts four wins in the $1.35 million Group 1 race – El Dorado (2008, 2009 and 2011) and Better Life (2012). A fifth hurrah would not break any record as Ivan Allan is still miles ahead on nine wins, but it would cement his place further as the winningest Gold Cup trainer in the modern era since Singapore racing moved to Kranji in 1999.
But what would really tickle Takaoka pink is the other nugget of history he would be remembered as: The last trainer to saddle a winner in a Singapore Gold Cup run over 2200m.
Blinkers come on Jupiter Gold in the Dester Singapore Gold Cup this Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club
With the recent decision to abolish all races over 2000m from next year, the Dester Singapore Gold Cup will henceforth be staged over 2000m.
Takaoka is not exactly a nostalgic person, more the sort who just wants to train the next winner, but he does take great pride in his record as the “Mr Gold Cup” of the Kranji era – pre-2000m version, that is.
“It’s my last chance to win a Gold Cup over 2200m. It’s a special staying race and I’m proud of my record,” said Takaoka.
“I don’t know if I was an expert in training horses for this race, but I was lucky to have the right horses.
“Obviously, El Dorado was a genuine stayer. The distance was never an issue for him, if anything, he was trained only for that race.
“Better Life was more of a query over the trip. I was 70% sure she would run it out, and she didn’t disappoint.”
His hopes at another slice of history now reside in Jupiter Gold. Five months ago, after an eye-catching second to Forever Young in the Group 1 Singapore Guineas, Takaoka thought he had a decent horse for such a mission, but the last three runs have poured cold water on his plans.
After his dismal last place in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) in June, the son of Congrats was backed off for three months. He resumed with a fifth place to Twickenham in the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) and was again disappointing in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m), never in with a shout as he plodded to a ninth place to Gilt Complex.
Takaoka is under no illusions the boom on the former top juvenile has quietened down. He blames the rig’s coltish ways, but has not given up on coming up with the right fix in the Gold Cup.
“Jupiter Gold was not very switched on in the Raffles Cup. I saw how he would look around, he was not focused,” he said.
“That’s why I am throwing a pair of blinkers for the first time on him in the Gold Cup. He won a trial with them last week (October 31), which was good.
“But I’m still not sure whether he can stay 2200m. I would say it’s 50/50.
“He’s been behaving more like a colt this prep, and to me, that’s the main reason his performances have not been up to expectations.
“He will have a last gallop tomorrow on the Polytrack. Alan (Munro) is happy with the way he is going and if he stays, he should run a good race.”