No clear pick

Atabaas Pride of St Kitts, with race day jockey Jason Liburd aboard. (Picture by Basil Griffith.)

By Lindon Yarde | Fri, March 04, 2011 – 12:05 AM

When the Sandy Lane Gold Cup runs off tomorrow, there will be no outstanding favourite, which should make it an extremely competitive race.

Die-hard race fans will more than likely turn to the jockeys to make their final decisions as to which horse they will choose to win the prestigious event.

When one looks at the past performances of all entered for this glamorous event it makes for interesting reading.

Silver Oaks LLC-owned Grand Cash has the most impressive record. The American gelding has won eight of his career 28 starts. The Wesley Ward-trained gelding who runs on the pace, was involved in a dead-heat in his last start at Gulfstream Park in the United States on January 6 in a Claiming US$44 000 event over 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

On that occasion, he stopped the clock at 1:41.3. It was an impressive victory as he slugged it out at the top of the lane.

The Eugene Melnyk-owned Safety Zone is not in the same category of his stablemate Sterwins, last year’s winner. After winning the Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine, in Canada, he then journeyed to Tampa Bay, Florida, where he won a Starters Handicap US$18 000 race over 1-mile in a time of 1:36.2.

He was then third next outing at the same venue in a Starters Handicap US$20 000 event over 1 1/16 mile. With career statistics of 28 starts with nine wins, this turf specialist is a late running type. He will have to contend with traffic if he is to retain the coveted prize for his connections.

The Tres Amigos-owned Just Call Me Roger has been working exceptionally well. His career record of 14 starts, with four wins looks good when judged against some of the other starters in the race. This front runner was swallowed up by his opponents at Woodbine in a Claiming $40 000 race.

He made amends on November 25 last year with a pole to pole victory at the above-mentioned venue in a claiming $10 000 race over  seven furlongs, stopping the clock in 1:24. He has performed well on turf and will get the distance.

Local favourite, the Elias Halute and Sir Charles Williams-owned Apostle will have his work cut out for him. The fact that he has to use his early speed to get over to the rail can be detrimental to his chances at the finish.

In his fourth Gold Cup and modest returns for the last year which have yielded only two wins, he does not inspire the same confidence as in the past. Apostle should take them along at a hectic clip early on, and should not be ruled out, as this style can be advantageous.

Daislyn Sharpe-owned Bad Action will seek to extend his unbeaten run from St Kitts, and make it five wins on the trot. He has won at all distances at Beaumont Park (four, five and seven and a half furlongs) and much is expected of him this time around.

Of the others, A Marshall-Way and H Spencer-owned Mingun Temple showed great form with a devastating performance in last year’s Victor Chandler Stakes and Trophy over 1 570 metres against top rated horses.

He then disappointed in the Coolmore “Home Of Champions” Stakes and Trophy over 1 800 metres, where it was believed that the firm going was his undoing. Mingun Temple’s four career wins were all achieved on soft going.

A firm track will surely reduce his chances.

Melrose and Clifton Racing-owned Rocamadour has won four of his eight starts, including three over the Gold Cup trip. He romped home in the Val Gale Cup over 1 800 metres, before an injury set him back.

He was a no-show in the Victor Chandler Stakes and Trophy over 1 570 metres. This trip is right up his alley. He will probably be a race or two short, but could be considered a live outsider.

The Lord Michael Taylor-owned Show Me The Money has won four races from 12 starts, three at this distance. The Queen’s Plate Handicap is his most celebrated accomplishment.

Sir David Seale-owned Reward Me, has won once in a maiden race, and in higher company has only managed a third place finish as his best effort in his last race. This will be a sterner test, and although improving could find this race way out of his league.

 Zoom, owned by Gay Smith, is in good form, but has scored once in two years, and looks outclassed.

Aysha Syndicate’s Charge It has chalked up three wins from 12 starts, all over 1 570 metres, and if one is looking for a real dark horse, he could be it.

Sir David Seale-owned John Brian, in his fourth Gold Cup, is the only horse in the field not to have won a race in over a year, after five attempts in the last year. On that form he might be best ignored.