Mornington trainer Mark Riley has confirmed that his last-start Ipswich Cup conqueror Gold In Dubai will seek back-to-back Cup victories at Caloundra this weekend.
Nominated for both the $175,000 Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) as well as the $200,000 Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the highly-anticipated Sunshine Coast meeting this Saturday, Gold In Dubai is set to take their spot in the Cup field.
“The reason we put him in the 1400 metre race (the Glasshouse) was if the track ended up a bog I wouldn’t want to pull the guts out of the horse in the Caloundra Cup,” Riley explained.
“He doesn’t handle heavy tracks so we’d use the 1400 metres as a gallop for him and go to the Grafton Cup.
“It was just a precaution in case it was very wet there but the weather has been fantastic.”
With reigning Caloundra Cup winner Ironstein unlikely to be accepted for the feature, Desert Sun five-year-old Gold In Dubai will be the equal 57kg top-weight of the race along with last year’s runner-up Tinseltown.
Gold In Dubai scored just their fifth career victory from 34 starts on June 18, jockey Michael Walker guiding the galloper to an impressive all-the-way two and a half length victory in the Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) that boosted the horse’s total prize money earned to over $500,000.
Having originally been raced over distances between 1200m and 1600m, Gold In Dubai has been racing far more consistently and competitively since Riley stepped them up to 2000m for the first time in April of this year.
The only time Gold In Dubai has finished out of the top three since jumping up in distance was when they ran 11th to Mystical Grey in the Listed Spear Chief Handicap over 1500 metres at Eagle Farm on June 4.
“He’s done a great job the horse,” Riley said.
“He’s had a lot of bad luck in a few runs, he never runs a bad race.”
On Saturday Gold In Dubai will seek to show their potential as an even longer-distance stayer racing over 2400 metres for the first time.
As well as the distance increase in the Caloundra Cup, Gold In Dubai will also rise 2.5kg in the weights from their Ipswich Cup win.
Riley remains unconcerned over the weight, however, Gold In Dubai having carried 57kg to run a game third over 2000m at Flemington on Anzac Day.
“I think my horse has improved in his last two runs since Flemington,” Riley said.
“It’s the warmer weather and the travelling.
“He loves to travel and I’ve taken him to Tasmania and Adelaide and each time he’s loved it.”
Gold In Dubai had their first look at the course proper at Caloundra on Monday and Riley was happy with the way the horse worked.
“He galloped on the course proper here…and had no problems with it,” Riley said.
“He’s pulled up very well and has thrived in Caloundra.
“The facilities here are A1.”
After the Caloundra Cup, Riley hinted at Gold In Dubai progressing onto the $160,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2300m) on July 14.
“If he pulled up exceptionally well and did exceptionally well I would go to Grafton if the track is going to be alright there,” Riley said.
“I was born in Melbourne but I grew up in Grafton so it would be a great thrill for us to have a runner in a Grafton Cup.
“At the end of the day the priority is the horse.
“If I think he’s been up for too long I’ll give him a break.
“But while he’s racing so well and doing well I’ll just keep racing him.”
Other long-term goals for Gold In Dubai if everything continues to go to plan include the $150,000 Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) this October as well as a possible trip down to Tasmania for next year’s Summer Racing Carnival in February where the $300,000 Group 3 Hobart Cup (2200m) and $225,000 Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) would be on the cards.