Joey Ramsden landed the second eLan Gold Cup of his career on Saturday and the keys besides training skills were jockey Nooresh Juglall taking full advantage of his low draw of two and the tough four-year-old filly responding obediently to his adept instructions.
Dynasty’s Blossom was not favoured by the compressed handicap conditions of the race, as opposed to her last start in the Gold Vase over 3000m, where she was well weighted.
However, it has been proven time and time again in South African racing that weight in 3200m races is not the deciding factor. Staying every inch of the trip and being tuned to the minute are just as important and enjoying a good passage in the race is crucial.
The way it panned out for Juglall was the pole opposite to the way it had happened just one race earlier on Ramsden’s charge Double Alliance in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes over 1600m. This Twice Over gelding began pulling from a good draw of three and was then caught without cover for a few strides, so his race was run before they turned for home.
Dynasty’s Blossom, on the other hand, relaxed well from the off, even when she faced the breeze for the first 250m. Juglall was then able to ease her on to the rail as the wider draw horses came across to take up the running. She had thus found cover without any exertion whatsoever.
She was much more relaxed in those first 250m metres than the favourite Doublemint, who was quite strong on the bit until the cover had come across.
Doublemint’s fancied stable companion Strathdon began pulling before the first turn and it took him a while to settle after that.
Another fancied horse, Shenanigans, found himself trapped wide down the back straight and jockey Lyle Hewitson was forced to go forward.
The second favourite Gimme One Night was crossed by Dynasty’s Blossom 250m after the start, forcing him to ease, and he became unsettled for a few strides. However, after that he settled well and can have few excuses, so perhaps his pedigree, which is not as suitable for this trip as Dynasty’s Blossom, was the telling factor. He had won a Listed race over 3200m at Kenilworth in January, but that race was run at a canter for the first kilometre.
Another horse who was in single figures in the odds, the topweight Roy Had Enough, was a bit strong in the first 350m before Piere Strydom expertly placed him one wide with cover in midfield. However, Strydom sacrificed his good position at about the 11000m mark when deciding the pace behind the leader Dark Moon Rising, who had gone few lengths clear, was too slow. He inched his charge forward on the outside of horses. Roy Had Enough stayed on well in the straight but the weight of 60kg told.
Strydom’s early move might have been necessary, considering he was still beaten a head in the end by Dark Moon Rising, but it also helped the horses who were further back. As it happened the first three home all came from the back half of the field.
Juglall took full advantage of Strydom’s move and made the race-winning decision at about the 900m mark. He switched outward off the rail and got on to the back of the train which was beginning to chase Dark Moon Rising.
Dynasty’s Blossom thus had momentum turning for home and had plenty of fuel in the tank too due to the good passage she had enjoyed.
She gave a tremendous kick and now just had to stay. She also had to get through some traffic and once again Juglall’s decision-making helped as he switched her a few horse widths inwards when passing Roy Had Enough. This ensured the filly would not be hampered by the slowing Dark Moon Rising.
Dynasty’s Blossom began to hang outward late in the race but had done enough to beat Made To Conquer, who came from last, by 0,80 lengths.
Doublemint ran on well but his exertions in the first 250m might well have caught up with him and he could only manage a 1,20 length third.
The pole position-drawn Al Bon Dubai, whom Dynasty’s Blossom had sat behind for most of the journey, also enjoyed a good passage but didn’t have the same momentum coming into the straight. He stayed on well for a 1,80 length fourth.
The unlucky horse was no doubt Shenanigans. Despite the poor trip he had. He still managed to battle on for a 2,05 length fifth.
Dark Moon Rising also did remarkably well to hold on for sixth, beaten 2,75 lengths, considering he led by about seven lengths at one stage.
It was a peach of a ride by Juglall and another fine training feat by Ramsden, whose expertise as a horseman will be sorely missed if he does relocate to Singapore.
Juglall gave credit to four time-winning Gold Cup jockey, Glen Hatt, for advising him how to ride the filly.
Hatt is the racing manager of Dynasty’s Blossom’s part-owners Maine Chance Farms. Another part-owner is of high profile in world racing, Mrs John Magnier, and the other part-owner is Jagessar Limited (nominee Alan Cooper).
Dynasty’s Blossom was bred by Highlands Farm Stud and Georgina Jaffee.
If lessons were to be learned by punters and pundits it is that how a horse behaves in the first half of a race should be studied just as much as it does in the closing stages. Pedigree analysis and an attempt to calculate how the race will pan out for the first 1000m are also of importance.
However, by the time the Gold Cup arrives next year these lessons will likely have been forgotten and the usual collateral form and weights will likely take precedence over all other predicting factors.
By David Thiselton