MADNESS was the best way to describe last year’s finish to the bet365 Gold Cup.
First, Enrilo looked like the winner. Then Kitty’s Light looked like the winner. Then Enrilo bumped into Kitty’s Light and then neither of them won. In the end the race had to go to Potterman, who was, in essence, the third best horse on the day, but first best on a technicality.
Had Kitty’s Light’s fast-finishing effort not been stopped by Enrilo, he’d probably have won, but so much was his momentum halted, he didn’t even get second. Enrilo had to be demoted to give him that position and then Potterman couldn’t have been demoted as he played no part in the shenanigans.
All three are back for more today (3.32) and it would be no surprise to see them all involved in the finish again. Then again, it also would be no surprise to see Win My Wings and Cap Du Nord, stablemates of Kitty’s Light, involved in the finish also. They all hail from the yard of Christian Williams, the Welsh trainer who has carried all before him in the big staying handicap chases this season, not least the Scottish Grand National where Win My Wings led home Kitty’s Light for a famous one-two for the yard.
Naturally, he was the focus of attention this week for this feature contest, the final marathon event of the season at this traditional closing fixture in Esher. Speaking at a Jockey Club media event, Williams said: “I think Ayr may have suited the mare (Win My Wings) better than Kitty’s Light.
“We aimed Kitty’s Light for the Scottish National so we don’t worry about things like last year too much. If we had a chip on our shoulder and had a big issue about it, we would have laid him out for this race.
“I just feel a bit sorry for Kitty because a Christian Williams horse has stopped him in his two starts this year – Cap Du Nord at Kempton and Win My Wings at Ayr – but I think he’s won over £80,000 in those alone so he’s won good money for his owners.
“I think everybody would think that he’d very much deserve a success, not just us at Christian Williams racing. There would be plenty of cheers at Sandown if he was to win, he’s just so consistent. He’s a mile horse really being by Nathaniel, it’s not his fault he was bought by a staying chase trainer!
Win My Wings was a sensational winner of the Scottish National under Rob James, who takes the ride again, but she is rated a stone higher now and will have to concede weight all around.
“She’s gone up 14lbs and I think it’s sporting of the owners to run her, she’s only a small mare so to carry 11st 12lbs at Sandown is a big ask, so all credit must go to the owners to carry on.
“A stone is a lot of weight so it will be tough, but she’s in great form. She went away on the Thursday (for the Scottish Grand National) and she looked better on the Tuesday coming home after travelling 10 hours and running four miles.”
Song setting up for possible Gold Cup tilt?
NAVAN is predominantly recognised as a National Hunt track but today’s card wouldn’t be out of place at the Curragh, most notably through the reappearance of dual Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song in the Listed Vintage Crop Stakes (4.46).
It is a little surprising to see the six-year-old make her seasonal debut this early given she didn’t return until late May last year and in June the year before. Her early return could be an indication of a grander plan this season, with this race often used as a stepping stone to the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Indeed Weld’s last winner of this race Forgotten Rules went on to finish third in the Royal Ascot feature in 2015. Search For A Song only won one of her five starts last season and perhaps staying trips can unlock a new lease of life for her. Most notably, on her previous run in the Prix Royal-Oak, run over just short of two miles which is the furthest trip over which she has raced over, she was staying-on fourth.
Uniquely, she’ll be joined by her full brother Kyprios in the same race today. Aidan O’Brien’s colt disappointed in the Lingfield Derby Trial and that was his last run after he had to be declared a non-runner after getting upset in the stalls prior to the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot.
Joseph O’Brien’s money spinner Baron Samedi goes for back-to-back wins in the race.