Monday, 14 November 2011
: Japanese-bred El Dorado etched his name into racing history by claiming his third victory in Singapore's biggest domestic race, the Group 1 $1.35 million Longines Singapore Gold Cup over 2200m.
| El Dorado and Hideyuki Takaoka|
Photo by Singapore Turf Club
The Hideyuki Takaoka-trained and Ronnie Stewart-ridden seven-year-old joined Three Rings as the only previous three-time winner of the race.El Dorado
captured his first Singapore Gold Cup back in 2008 and followed up in 2009 but was forced to miss the 2010 edition through injury.
Three Rings also won his three Gold Cups over four years in the 1950's capturing the 1954 edition before claiming successive wins in 1956 and 1957.
What sets the victories of El Dorado
apart from Three Rings was Stewart's association with all three wins.
At the end of the slogging 2200m contest that was run on a soft 5.6 rated track, El Dorado
, the third favourite at $38, scored a half-length victory over Lizarre (Barend Vorster) with Martial Art (Joao Moreira) running on for third, one-and-a-half length further back.
The race was run in 2 min 20.24 secs, almost eight seconds outside his course record of 2 min 14.81 secs set in his 2009 Gold Cup win.
The victory was the perfect going-away present for Stewart who is returning to Australia at the end of the season.
As he usually does, El Dorado
was a little slow from the barriers but having the advantage of the inside draw, Stewart was able to tack up on the inside to be in a midfield position on settling down.
Gordon Roberts (Koh Teck Huat) led them out at a relatively slow tempo over Nandowra (Danny Beasley) in the early stages before Speed Baby (Jose Verenzuela) moved around the field to be in second place. Samurai Phoenix (Sam Subian) was trapped wide while Clint (John Powell) and Lizarre were in close attendance.
Racing down the back, Gordon Roberts was racing well away from the fence, leaving plenty of room for the likes of those down on the inside to take advantage of gaining a rails run.
As the hometurn was reached Speed Baby took a narrow lead from Gordon Roberts and Samurai Phoenix with Lizarre poking up on the inside ahead of Clint who was starting to feel the pressure.El Dorado
was hot on the tail of Lizarre
and on straightening the latter assumed control with Vorster edging off the fence. Stewart was going to come around the heels of Lizarre to the outside but switched to his inside and in the run to the line just outstayed the Patrick Shaw-trained stayer.
Stewart said he was “lost for words” as the enormity of winning his third Gold Cup aboard the one horse was beginning to sink in.
“I don't know how to explain it,” said 28 year-old Stewart. “The horse's work the other day had me feeling confident he would run a great race.
“He's got such a big heart this horse. Every time I sit on this horse he just gives a great feeling.
“It's a great present to be going home with. Three Gold Cup wins in four years and if he lines-up next year and I get the chance to come up and ride him then I'll be here.
“At this stage of my career I would have to say he's one of the best horses that I have ridden.”
Stewart said the race panned out pretty much as he expected although there were a few worrying moments in the run.
“As usual he can be a bit slow from the barriers but he quickly gathered his momentum and I was able to get onto the back of Barend which was the one I wanted to follow,” said Stewart.
“I was a bit worried about the crowding coming over from the outside but they went quick enough for us so there was little crowding, but they then slowed up in front going down the back.
“Going past the 1000m they started moving off the fence and it opened up quite a bit and Barend had to take advantage of it which allowed me to track into it.
“It was quite a slug to the finish but the old boy gave his all.
“He's just an out-and-out stayer and he proved that again today.”
A man of few words, Takaoka described El Dorado
as a “special horse” in providing him with his third Gold Cup victory.
Takaoka has an affinity with stayers and goes about his business quietly. He also trained another Japanese-bred galloper Jolie's Shinju who was successful in the 2009 Singapore Derby over 2000m.El Dorado
missed last year's Gold Cup following an operation to remove bone chips from his off-side fetlock two months before the race.
“I'm very happy,” said Takaoka. “He's such a special horse to me.
“He has taken advantage of his opportunities and I was confident of him coming back after his time off through injury.
“After his work on Wednesday, I was confident that he had come back as good as he was when he won two years ago, but I was a little concerned with the soft going after all the rain.
“Luckily we got the inside draw and he was able to come through for his third win.”
Masa Otani of Big Valley Stable, also could not contain his delight at landing his third Gold Cup victory.
“I would say that this has to be a career highlight,” said Otani. “Winning one Gold Cup is great, but to win three is just fantastic.
“I never lost faith in the horse despite him missing last year and I must thank all the staff in the stable who have helped pull this win off.”
Shaw was one of the first to congratulate Takaoka on his success and landing three Gold Cup victories.
“I always knew El Dorado
was the horse to beat,” said Shaw. “He's the true stayer in the field and had a lightweight. What more can you ask?
“But my horse ran a bold race. I think in hindsight, if he had drawn slightly wider off the track, he would have had a better run in transit.”
Vorster said the track conditions didn't pan out well for him as he had to make his run a little earlier than expected.
“I just had to ride him as the race panned out. With the heavy track, he just had to be ridden along a little more,” said Vorster.
“I probably went on him a bit early but I had no other choice. He couldn't quite quicken on the heavy track but nevertheless, he ran his heart out.
“I'm very proud of him and at the same time very frustrated. But that's racing.”
Moreira who is used to winning races on numerous occasions, was ruing his bad luck again in a feature race.
“He just had no luck in the running. Horses came bumping around me all the way and as a result I got further back than I wanted,” said Moreira.
“If not for that, I think he should have won. The winner had an ideal run on the rails and had an uninterrupted run in the home straight but we were caught in traffic from a long way back.
“It's very disappointing to lose like this.”
In winning his ninth race from 44 starts, El Dorado
, by Stay Gold from the White Muzzle mare White Leap, took his prizemoney to around $2.85 million following his victory.