Gibson wants a Gold-Fun gold run in Stewards’ Cup

Gold-Fun has an impressive race record. The horse that currently holds the title of Hong Kong Champion Miler has notched eight wins from 18 starts since relocating to Sha Tin from Ireland, including high-level victories in the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile, G2 Jockey Club Mile and HKG1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup. But an international Group 1 has so far eluded him.

Despite his consistency against the best around, Richard Gibson’s talented charge has failed to claim the number one spot in four attempts at the elite grade, twice finishing runner-up in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile. The six-year-old will attempt to amend that record in the Stewards’ Cup this Sunday, 25 January, but to do so he will have to defeat his latest nemesis, Able Friend.

Gold-Fun conceded 5lb to Hong Kong’s new superstar in November’s G2 Jockey Club Mile and came up two and a quarter lengths short. In an attempt to claw back that margin at level weights, against a seemingly formidable opponent, Gold-Fun’s regular partner Douglas Whyte employed front-running tactics in last month’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile. That approach failed to find a chink in Able Friend’s make-up and Gold-Fun was left toiling in second as the winner powered to a four and a quarter-length triumph.

“I would be very surprised if the tactics were similar this time,” said Gibson, who is pleased with the chestnut’s condition ahead of the newly-promoted international G1 contest.

“He’s had his usual prep and I’m delighted with how he is, he’s in really good nick again,” continued the Englishman. “He’s such a good athlete that it’s a pleasure working with him. He’s in tremendous shape, and, as usual, he will take a lot of beating. He’s very able and it’s only the very best that can beat him.”

Gold-Fun will face not one but two nemeses. As well as the John Moore-trained Able Friend, the field of nine features Glorious Days, John Size’s crack miler who swept past Gold-Fun to snatch the 2013 running of the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

And in a field replete with stars, former two-time Horse of the Year and 2012 Hong Kong Mile victor Ambitious Dragon will take his chance in an attempt to replicate his 2012 Stewards’ Cup win.

Blazing Speed, last year’s Stewards’ Cup victor, is one of two Tony Cruz-trained runners alongside Beauty Flame. The Moore-trained Rewarding Hero, All You Wish from the Dennis Yip stable and the Size-trained Real Specialist complete the line-up.

The G1 Stewards’ Cup is the first leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown. The second leg is the G1 Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) on 1 March and the third-leg is the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on 31 May. All three legs have attained international Group 1 status this year, are open to international competitors, and carry increased prize money of HK$10 million.

This year’s Triple Crown carries a bonus of HK$10 million, paid to the owner of any horse that can win all three races.



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