Reigning Dester Singapore Gold Cup-winning trainer Stephen Gray was one happy and relieved man at the post position draw ceremony for Singapore's richest classic at the Fountain Square at Clarke Quay on Wednesday.
Held at night for the first time, in tandem with the Chill Party, the other must-have component of Kranji's biggest racing event of the year, Gray's two runners - Newlands and defending champion Bahana - drew barriers one and nine respectively for Sunday's $1.35 million Group 1 feature.
Gray, however, was biting his nails for the draw for Newlands, as only the two extreme slots were left - No. 1 and No. 20.
But Japanese trainer Hideyuki Takaoka, who was the second-last to go up on stage, picked the widest draw for his runner Jupiter Gold, much to Gray's relief.
"Both my horses have drawn great. I actually feel sorry for Taky," said Gray. "It was one or 20 and, well, the luck of the draw was with us. It's good for Newlands as he's an on-pace horse.
"Nine for Bahana is also good as he is also an on-the-speed type of horse, like he did in last year's Gold Cup. Such gates will give them a better chance."
Bahana led all the way from marble 12 with visiting Australian jockey Craig Williams astride last year. Newlands went with the pace and ran fourth from gate seven.
Recent Raffles Cup winner Gilt Complex, who is spearheading trainer Cliff Brown's four runners, was drawn in barrier two and has a great chance to achieve the rare Raffles Cup-Gold Cup double.
"Two is really good for Gilt Complex. It'll be perfect from there as it will give him every chance," said Brown's assistant trainer, Tim Fitzsimmons.
But luck was not with Brown's Raffles Cup runner-up Elite Excalibur, who ballotted gate 16.
"It's a tricky gate for Elite Excalibur, though. He will need a special ride from Glen Boss and, hopefully, he can settle down in midfield with some cover," said Fitzsimmons.
Trainer Alwin Tan was not losing sleep with the gate 13 draw for his star galloper Infantry in the 2,200m, Group 1 race.
"It's not too bad. I expect him to drop to barrier 10 if the three EAs (emergency acceptors) on his inside come out," said the reigning Singapore champion trainer.
"The pace is more important. If Manoel Nunes can relax my horse with a bit of cover, he'll be right there as he's got such a big heart. The horse is in perfect condition."
DESTER SINGAPORE GOLD CUP
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