Dester Singapore Gold Cup post position draw reactions
The Singapore Turf Club – and its innovative party aficionados – will definitely get plaudits from connections of this year’s 20 contenders to the $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) this Sunday.
For the first time, the traditional Post Position Draw for the glamour event was held at night, and in tandem with the other must-have of Kranji’s biggest racing event of the year, the Chill Party.
Two birds killed with one stone. On one hand, the solemn portion that is the barrier draw ceremony complete with nervous designated drawers with shaky hands and equally trembling voices, smiling Dester girls sashaying from one end of the stage to another, and the forever suave compere Matthew Jones keeping everybody on suspense and entertained (a rare skill!), was held with the usual aplomb.
And straight after, everybody could let their hair down all under the same one roof, a magnificent luminescent structure (not quite unlike our own Parade Ring roof at Kranji) sprawling over the Fountain Square at Clarke Quay, this year’s chosen venue for the event.
Whether it is to chink to great gates – gin-loving Stephen Gray and last year’s Singapore Gold Cup-winning trainer already titillated the thirsty palates with his New Zealand Haka dance as he hopped onto the stage to draw for 2016 Gold Cup title defender Bahana – or to drown their sorrows – bring on some sakes from the neighbouring Japanese pubs dotting the popular pub-crawl place for trainer Hideyuki Takaoka after his Jupiter Gold drew more like copper in barrier No 20, it was all happening there.
But after all the merry-making is over and done with, the game face on every trainer, jockey and owner will be back on the very next morning as they unfold back the beer-stained barrier draw sheets to work out the next strategy – the shortest way home to Gold on Sunday.
NEWLANDS and BAHANA – Barrier No 1 and 9
“Both horses have drawn great. I actually feel sorry for Taky (Hideyuki Takaoka who was the second-last to draw and had the two extreme barriers left, 1 or 20, and drew the latter for Jupiter Gold, leaving marble one for Newlands),” said trainer Stephen Gray.
“It was one or 20 and well, the luck of the draw was with us. It’s good for Newlands as he’s an on-pace horse.
“Nine for Bahana is also good as he is also an on-the-speed type of horse, like he did in last year’s Gold Cup. Such gates will give them a better chance.”
GILT COMPLEX, LAUGHING GRAVY, MAGSTOCK (E3) and ELITE EXCALIBUR – Barriers No 2, 3, 5 and 16
“Two is really good for Gilt Complex. It’ll be perfect from there as it will give him every chance,” said trainer Cliff Brown’s assistant-trainer Tim Fitzsimmons.
“Three is also perfect for Laughing Gravy as he goes forward. He can either sit off Order Of The Sun or go forward depending on the way the early speed pans out.
“Magstock is the EA3, but he’s drawn good even if it’s unlikely he’ll get a run. We know he can stay, and he’s in good shape.
“It’s a tricky gate for Elite Excalibur, though. He will need a special ride from Glen Boss, and hopefully, he can settle down in midfield with some cover.”
EMPEROR’S BANQUET, PERFECT P, MAJESTIC MOMENTS and MIGHTY KENNY – Barriers No 4, 8, 15 and 19
“Perfect P will have every option from that gate (eight). The pace will be on and he should be able to take a sit behind,” said trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
“It’s the same for Emperor’s Banquet. Jeff (Lloyd) can just go with the pace from that inside draw. Majestic Moments has drawn off a bit but with the EAs out, he will fall back in 12, which is not too bad.
“Mighty Kenny will also drop back to 15 after the EAs are scratched. He stays the trip even if he may have to do a bit of work from there, but overall, I’m happy with all the draws.”
French jockey Olivier Placais, who covered his eyes when he went up the stage to draw for Perfect P, could not have been happier with his lucky hand.
“Without being lame, eight is ‘perfect’!” said Placais.
“I was hoping for a gate around there and I got it. I should be able to follow in sixth or eighth spot, and the trick would be to save as much gas as possible for the last 600m.
“One thing I’m sure is the horse has the trip in his legs. I hope he’s good enough, that’s all.”
FOREVER YOUNG – Barrier No 6
“Very happy with barrier No 6. The horse is fit and well, but the only question mark is the trip,” said trainer Kuah Cheng Tee.
“Whether he can stay, I am not sure, but from that gate, he will hopefully be able to go forward and save as much petrol as possible.”
DARSHINI (EA4) – Barrier No 7
“It’s a good gate, but unfortunately, he won’t run. The horse has improved a lot,” said trainer Mohd Yusof.
SECRET WIN – Barrier No 10
“Barrier No 10 is really good for Secret Win. It doesn’t really matter much anyway, as he will probably settle last in the race,” said trainer Daniel Meagher.
“That is his normal pattern. He will switch off and hopefully, that gives him every chance to use that sprint that he has in the end.
“Benny (Woodworth) knows him fantastically well, but the big question mark that remains is ‘is he good enough?’.
“He’s definitely a stayer, he can handle both dry and wet. He won on a wet track in New Zealand, and 50kgs on his back will give him every option.
“I’m definitely happy with the way everything has gone for him, right up to the draw he got.”
CHAIRMAN (EA2) – Barrier No 11
“The barrier doesn’t really matter now, does it?” said trainer Lee Freedman’s assistant-trainer Shane Ellis
“He’s a horse that sits in the first five or six, and needs a genuine speed. If he gets a start, then we’ll work out what to do.”
ORDER OF THE SUN – Barrier No 12
“He’s right in the middle. After the EAs drop out, he’ll jump from nine which isn’t too bad,” said trainer Desmond Koh.
“He is a jump-and-run type of horse and he will definitely go forward. A lot will depend on the early pace.”
INFANTRY – Barrier No 13
“It’s not too bad. I expect him to drop to barrier 10 if the three EAs on his inside come out,” said Singapore champion trainer Alwin Tan.
“The pace is more important. If Manoel Nunes can relax my horse with a bit of cover, he’ll be right there as he’s got such a big heart.
“I hope there’s no rain as he will then give too much weight to the other horses (Infantry is the topweight on 57.5kgs).
“As for the injury to his hind leg (sustained in the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile which he won six weeks back), it’s behind him now. The horse is in perfect condition.”
SONG TO THE MOON – Barrier No 14
“I’m actually pretty happy with barrier No 14. He’s a horse best left alone to do his own things,” said trainer Michael Clements who has had the previous Ricardo Le Grange-trained five-year-old son of Savabeel only for two runs, including at his last-start seventh to Secret Win in the Gold Cup trial, the Group 3 El Dorado Classic (2200m).
“From barrier four at his last start, he was forced to be up there early and then he dropped back on the rails whereas he likes to have a bit of space around him.
“The horse has been improving steadily. My riders are happy with him, he’s a fit horse.
“He has a light weight and we’ll go into the race with a bit of a chance and a certain level of confidence.”
SANDTOP – Barrier No 17
Comments not available (to be updated later)
BLUE SWEDE – Barrier No 18
“Last year, he drew 11 from 12 and he ran a super third to Bahana,” said trainer Shane Baertschiger.
“He will come into barrier No 14 after the withdrawals, so he’ll be 14 from 16, which is a similar scenario to last year. He’s a horse who needs to come around horses.
“If he had drawn the inside, it would have worked against him actually. So, 14 is good for him.
“He will get back as he does. With horses like Forever Young and Order Of The Sun, there will be plenty of speed in the race and he will come home at the end.”
JUPITER GOLD – Barrier No 20
“Can I not give any comments?” said four-time Singapore Gold Cup hero Hideyuki Takaoka with a wry smile.
“I actually discussed about the draw with (jockey) Alan Munro this morning. He said if we draw in, he will settle somewhere in the first half or midfield, but if he draws wide, he will drop back at the rear.
“When I told him we got the worst one (20), he laughed! I think he didn’t have this in mind when we were talking about it!
“Anyway, a lot will depend on the early speed.”