A Diamond Jubilee oldie but Gold still holds lustre

Gold-Fun will line up in Saturday’s G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot as something of a venerable old-timer in a field that features a clutch of talented four-year-olds, each threatening to stamp their authority on Europe’s 1200m scene.

Twilight Son has already notched a G1 success – last season’s Sprint Cup at Haydock; The Tin Man was not far off that peer and last season’s European champion sprinter Muhaarar at Ascot in October; Limato has placed second in two major G1s, including the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in 2015; and Magical Memory has risen from the handicap ranks to score twice in Pattern company this term.

Those youthful talents are alluring. At the other end of the scale, the veteran Sole Power, at nine years of age, is set to be the old man of the party should he take up his engagement. Gold-Fun is an unrivalled second in seniority.

“That’s the question mark about him. He’s seven years old now but we’ve kept him fresh, he’s very consistent and his form has been good once again this season,” said trainer Richard Gibson, whose charge has a victory in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m), three smart seconds and two fourth place returns from his six starts this term.

But since 1971 when the Pattern was introduced and the race now known as the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, then called the Cork And Orrery Stakes, was designated Group 3 status, only one horse aged older than six has triumphed. That horse, however, like Gold-Fun, was a seven-year-old gelding, and, again like Gold-Fun, he was trained in Hong Kong. The victor in question was Cape Of Good Hope who took the 2005 edition when it was staged at York as the G1 Golden Jubilee Stakes.

And anyone with lingering doubts about the veterans being up to the task at Royal Ascot need look no further than Tuesday’s heroine of the old brigade, the nine-year-old Jennie’s Jewel, successful in the two and a half-mile Ascot Stakes.

Of more concern perhaps would be queries about handling soft going, where the race’s pace will be and whether a long-distance traveller, such as Gold-Fun, has taken the journey well and acclimatised quickly to its new surroundings. Able Friend appeared to have done so ahead of last year’s G1 Queen Anne Stakes but then failed to fire in the cauldron of competition. Oftentimes the answer is not known until the race has been run.

The Gibson camp is happy with Gold-Fun so far. The gelding appeared bright and healthy again this morning (Wednesday 15 June) as he followed the usual routine at Abington Place: horse walker, trotting ring then canter. Today the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) runner-up worked up the Bury Hill Ecotrack at a slightly swifter tempo and over a longer strip of ground than previously.

Eric Gandon was in the saddle for the six and half furlong stretch and described the work as “60 percent” pace, “easy work”. His summation: “He feels very good.”


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