HEADING into this year’s renewal of the Longines-sponsored Gr 1 Singapore Gold Cup with a smashing four-pronged attack, Durbanite Patrick Shaw, who already had two previous Gold Cups to his name (Mr Line in 2006 and Quechua last year), again cemented his mettle as a conditioner of stayers with a podium finish for two of them – Cooptado on top and Perfect P third – while Quechua and Emperor’s Banquet did not finish far behind in fifth and sixth place respectively.
While to some observers, Cooptado (Shafiq Rizuan) was arguably the unproven quantity among Shaw’s foursome given he had yet to open his Kranji account in six runs, Shaw always knew the Equal Stripes five-year-old would hit his straps once he steps over the right trip.
Pat Shaw, delighted.
A closing fourth in the Gold Cup trial, the Group 3 El Dorado Classic (2200m) three weeks ago had Shaw brimming with some confidence for the Russian-owned Cooptado, though he could not split the other trio either, but in the end it was Cooptado’s proven stamina that won the day, albeit by only a head from a very brave and again unlucky Fastnet Dragon (Alan Munro).
A touch suspect at the distance before the race, Perfect P (Barend Vorster) finished a meritorious third another 2 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was 2min 14.69secs for the 2200m on the Long Course.
“He was the true stayer among the four, obviously along with Quechua, who showed he had the distance when he won the race last year,” said Shaw.
“Emperor’s Banquet always does well and he was not far behind. Perfect P was the only doubtful over the trip but he showed he got the 2200m with his third place.
“But when we got Cooptado from Argentina, my agent Ignacio already told us he was one of the best stayers there. He came with a big reputation but we still had to give him time to prove himself.
“When he came for the SIA Cup (Singapore Airlines International Cup), we were trying to figure him out within such short notice. His body weight was an issue as (previous Dubai trainer) Doug (Watson) doesn’t weigh his horses.
“He was not ready in the SIA Cup, but with more time, he’s slowly improved and never ran a bad race. I’ve been increasing his distances and the Gold Cup was always going to suit him.
“But after three months with us, we realised he had some back issues. We had to treat his back with a lot of acupuncture and luckily, he’s come right.
“I was very happy with his run in the El Dorado when he carried 57 kg while giving Sebrose seven kilos. When I put a set of blinkers on him, he really travelled a lot better and I knew he would run well in the Gold Cup.
“He travelled well in the race, and with a good ride from Shafiq, he got there right in the nick of time.”
With the bulk of his horses belonging to either fellow South African owner Fred Crabbia or the Avengers/Tmen Stable, Shaw was delighted he had picked up the biggest prize on the Singapore racing calendar for Russian owners Evgeny Kappushev and Valentin Bukhtoyarov of Red Stable.
“I have to thank Evgeny and Valentin for their support and patience. It’s nice for them to win the Gold Cup even if they’re not here,” said Shaw.
“It’s also wonderful I have won three Gold Cups. Laurie (Laxon) is always having a dig at me, but I’ve won three and he’s still on two, but I’m only joking as he’s also a great trainer!
“It’s funny how I was known as a staying trainer all my life, as I won three Derbies in South Africa and also won the July Handicap with Teal, but then came Rocket Man.
“But it’s a fact I’ve always had a lot of luck with stayers and I guess there must be some truth to it.”