Royal Ascot officials have convinced connections to enter Gold-Fun in June’s Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes as trainer Richard Gibson indicated his gun sprinter’s season is most definitely “back on”.
It appeared Gold-Fun’s season was over after a flat fourth behind Aerovelocity in the Group One Centenary Sprint Cup in January, but a bright recovery and lure of glory at the prestigious royal meeting means the battle-hardened veteran has remained in light work.
Gold-Fun will still miss Sunday’s Group Two Sprint Cup at Sha Tin in an attempt to keep the gelding fresh, but provided the seven-year-old comes through the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin unscathed on May 1, then a trip to Royal Ascot is on the agenda.
“The timing is right this year, and it is very much our intention to go,” Gibson said of a possible start on June 18. “We’ve kept him fresh with a view to heading over there, that’s why we will be skipping Sunday’s race, and as long as he runs a good race here against some of the world’s best sprinters in the Group One, which he usually does, we will be on our way.”
Officials had made overtures to Gibson and Gold-Fun’s owner Pan Sutong for the past two years, with fetlock surgery putting stops to their plans 12 months ago.
The tough and relatively undulating 1,200m of the Diamond Jubilee looks tailor-made for Gold-Fun, who had performed well at a mile but built a reputation as something of a 1,400m specialist before successfully dropping back in distance last year.
“The five furlongs of the King’s Stand Stakes is too sharp for him, but a nice six furlongs up the hill there at Royal Ascot will be perfect for a horse with his stamina,” Gibson said.
Pan’s electronics company Gigaset is an official partner at the meeting and Royal Ascot director of racing Nick Smith admitted that was part of Gold-Fun’s allure.
“It would provide a tremendous synergy between his commercial and equine interests if Gold-Fun were to run. We await any decision with keen interest,” said Smith, who said the Chairman’s Sprint Prize could provide a pathway for other runners.
“The standard of sprinting in Hong Kong is remarkable and we are also hopeful of possible entries from Peniaphobia, Not Listenin’tome and Aerovelocity, if the latter is back on track,” he said.
Trainer Paul O’Sullivan provided an update on Aerovelocity after the tough sprinter returned from Japan yesterday and it appears he is on track for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize after a bout of colic that forced the gelding’s withdrawal from the Takamatsunomiya Kinen.
“He is back here in quarantine and should be back in work tomorrow,” he said.
The local sprinters will face a tough task in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, with Group One Al Quoz Sprint winner Buffering and Hong Kong Sprint fifth Mongolian Saturday confirmed by connections as starters.
Meanwhile, Australian jockeys Zac Purton and Brett Prebble will fly to Sydney to ride at the first day of The Championships at Randwick Racecourse this Saturday.