Fun aims for more Group One 'Gold' in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup
A freshen-up and a gear change coming back to a trip where he produced what might have been a career-best earlier this season have Gold-Fun as the horse to beat in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup - but the race has a long and dangerous-looking tail.
There hasn't been much talk of Horse of the Year honours for Gold-Fun - he lacks the Group One title that award requires - but this race could easily deliver it, and there might not have been a more consistent top-level performer than Richard Gibson's five-year-old in the first four months of the term.
On this day 12 months ago Gold-Fun was third to stablemate Akeed Mofeed, another Pan Sutong-owned star, in the Derby, before dropping back to more suitable trips.
First-up and fresh this season Gold-Fun put in an electrifying effort over Sunday's course and distance, showing a blistering turn of foot to win the National Day Cup by one and three quarter lengths. He carried 124 pounds that day, giving 11 pounds to second-placed Blazing Speed, himself a subsequent Group One winner.
Gold-Fun already has a Group One next to his name after winning last year's Hong Kong Classic Mile, but that was against his own age group, and after the National Day heroics came two performances that put Gold-Fun in the Group One quality bracket against all comers.
Wins in the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy and Jockey Club Mile meant Gibson's star was sent out 2.7 favourite in the Hong Kong Mile - an indication of his quality regardless of the result. Gold-Fun ran up to his rating, but was perhaps exposed too early in the straight and it was only a fresh Glorious Days who was able to run him down.
Five weeks later in the Stewards' Cup, Gold-Fun went back from a wide gate and was with the group of favoured runners who just couldn't make ground as the winners came from the first half of the field on a heavily biased track.
A two month break since then is perfect, with a couple of sharp 1,000m trials in between to keep his mind on the job - plus the headgear goes on for the second time.
Gibson went to the shades when coming back from a third in the Derby off a similar length break into last year's Champions Mile. The cups replaced sheepskin cheek pieces that time - which the gelding hasn't sported yet this year - and that day, he blew the start and his chances, which horses can do first time in headgear. The blinkers should get a stronger response this time, and he is less likely to miss the start this time round.
Douglas Whyte has gate nine to contend with, but Gold-Fun's ability to run a genuine mile should hold him in good stead here - he is strong enough at the trip to make his own luck. A three-wide trail would be suitable coming onto the straight from a midfield position.
Lucky Nine (Brett Prebble) is the next elect - he won this race in 2012 and has an exceptional record over the course and distance, winning three of five and never finishing worse than fourth. The fear is that he will suffer a drop off three weeks after an all-out effort last-start, when he grinded out the Chairman's Sprint Prize coming off a troubled lead-up. Caspar Fownes has indicated the gelding hasn't had the smoothest preparation this time, either.
Outside of the top two there are some intriguing runners, including a few that get their first taste of open company. Flagship Shine (Joao Moreira) comes back to what might be his best trip after an aborted four-year-old campaign, as does Dundonnell (Gerald Mosse).
As for Smart Volatility (Tye Angland) and Super Lifeline (Karis Teetan), both may be way out of their ratings depth at set weights but both are in fine form and on the way up.