Mornington-based trainer Mark Riley is likely to vie for a Queensland cups double with his intrepid galloper Gold In Dubai, naming the upcoming Caloundra Cup as the next target for last Saturday’s Ipswich Cup conqueror.
Desert Sun five-year-old Gold In Dubai ($9) showed their class and proved their staying potential when the Michael Walker-ridden former sprinter lead all-the-way to score a decisive two and a quarter length win over the Lawrie Mayfield-Smith-trained Danagaze ($9.50) in the $200,000 Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) on Saturday.
“It was about the perfect ride in front from Michael,” Riley said.
“I sent him out with a brief to go forward early and just work it out for himself.
“We actually like the horse in front in these sort of races because he does settle and relax better but there looked to be speed in the race, there was a good chance something else would set the tempo.
“Once they let him make his own pace I knew he would be hard to beat.
“I could see he had the others struggling before the home turn.”
Running a brave third just a further quarter of a length away was dual defending champion, the Robert Heathcote-trained Our Lukas ($11) who failed to make history as the first ever triple Ipswich Cup winner.
Race favourite was Yves Seguin’s imported Kiwi filly Arcenciel ($4.20) who was the flop of the feature, finishing over 14 lengths away 11th.
The Ipswich Cup was run at a blistering speed, Gold In Dubai winning in 2:12.35, just under two seconds outside the course record.
The Ipswich Cup success was Gold In Dubai’s fifth career win from 34 starts and pushed their total earnings to over the half a million dollar mark.
Riley will now head towards the $200,000 Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday July 2 with Gold In Dubai, but will await a final decision on running the horse in the race until the release of the weights.
“I’ll see how he pulls up first and then look at the weights, but I’d like to run him at Caloundra,” Riley confirmed.
The Grafton Cup on July 14 is also on the radar for Gold In Dubai at the home track of Riley’s father Martin, who has been a big part of the horse’s preparation this season.
“We bought him (dad) out of retirement to do it,” Riley said.
“It’s a great thrill to win this race (the Ipswich Cup) and there’s every chance if he runs at Caloundra that we might try for the Grafton Cup on the way home.”
Gold In Dubai started their career on the track back in April of 2008, scoring a black-type win at just their second start in that year’s Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m).
Connections then stepped the horse up to the mile at Flemington, but Gold In Dubai failed to beat home any other runners and was sent for a spell.
In their next 26 starts over three years, Gold In Dubai raced over sprint distances of 1100m – 1400m and was only given a handful of starts over the mile.
Failing to produce in their runs, Riley eventually stepped the sprinter up to 2000m for the first time in April of this year where they finished an eye-catching third to The Big Steel in a race at Flemington on Anzac Day.
Winning their next start over the 2000m on May 7, Gold In Dubai then finished second in the Banjo Paterson Heat 1 (2000m) on May 21 before stepping back to 1500m at Eagle Farm on June 4 for the Listed Spear Chief Handicap (1500m).
They were well beaten there when 11th to Mystical Grey, but bounced back in a brave front-running display when winning the Ipswich Cup over their newly preferred distance of over 2000m.
Riley credits the reinvigorated career of Gold In Dubai to the altered approach to the horse’s ability as a stayer.
“He (had) a fall at Caulfield and, for some reason, that seems to have turned him around,” Riley said.
“All of a sudden he was relaxing…and easily stepped up to a middle distance.
“Early in his career, we were looking at him as a potential stayer, but he just wouldn’t relax.”