A lighter workload this season has Richard Gibson confident Royal Ascot raider Gold-Fun will still have some gas left in the tank later this month when the veteran sprinter contests the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Gold-Fun was given a quiet trial yesterday morning at Sha Tin ahead of his Saturday departure for England and will head into the race on June 18 having had just six starts so far this season, with Gibson deliberately spacing the seven-year-old’s runs.
On Sunday, a poor run by John Size-trained Contentment was blamed in part by a heavy racing schedule that saw the usually consistent type put in a career-worst effort when finishing last, but Gibson said his horse will be travelling under very different circumstances.
“We’ve kept this horse very fresh, he runs very well fresh and we are in the sprint division, I’ve got less concerns about that,” said Gibson, who himself flew out yesterday morning to undertake a reconnaissance mission where the horse will stay at Newmarket in the Abington Place stables of champion South African handler Mike de Kock.
“I just want to see the training tracks and work out a plan around that,” he said.
Christophe Soumillion has ridden Gold-Fun in six of his last nine starts and will be back aboard again at Royal Ascot, but Chad Schofield kept the saddle warm in the 1,000m turf trial, where the horse was allowed to cruise along in behind the speed and crossed the line two lengths behind 99-rated sprinter I’m In Charge.
“Chad was very pleased with the horse’s action, we gave him a bit of a blow-out and it is all systems go,” Gibson said after the hit-out.
Gibson had planned to take Gold-Fun to Royal Ascot last season for a race he believes is ideal for a horse considered a 1,400m specialist.
“We considered running him last year but he had a chip in his ankle we needed to take out,” he said. “We always thought 1,200m at Ascot would be better for him than the 1,200m here in Hong Kong. The 1,200m here is a bit quick for him, so we hope the straight at Ascot going up the hill will be a better test of his ability.”
Gold-Fun will be out to join past Hong Kong-trained Royal Ascot winners Cape Of Good Hope (2005 Golden Jubilee Stakes) and Little Bridge (2012 King’s Stand Stakes), with Gibson believing his three-time Group One winner’s form is better than the profile those horses had at the time.
“They were a little bit before my time but I think Gold-Fun has a better race record than those two horses,” he said.