Not so long ago the Zetland Gold Cup was a prestigious race but it has been in the doldrums for some years. The prize money has been doubled however for this year’s renewal to £50,000 and this Class 2 handicap has consequently attracted a good field including a number of very interesting, progressive contenders
Of the trainers with runners this time, Mark Johnston has won it twice in the last three years, while James Bethell’s Briardale bids to reprise his wide-margin success in the race 12 months ago. This race could be used as a stepping to Royal Ascot handicaps next month such as the Royal Hunt Cup, Wolferton Handicap, or the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap.
Favourite Leader's Legacy
Lightly raced and progressive last season, Saeed Bin Suroor’s gelding stepped up from a mile to win over the extended nine furlongs at Wolverhampton last time out on his first start for over 10 months. Pat Cosgrave’s charge will be a popular choice to carry the Godolphin blue colours to victory.
With trainer William Haggas in fine form his Seniority, who runs in the colours of The Queen, will surely attract interest. There are plenty of others with solid chances in an open renewal, including Restorer, Abareeq, Indian Chief and Titus, among others.
This is a fascinating handicap in which a case can be made for at least half a dozen horses. The market is likely to focus on Saeed bin Suroor’s Leader’s Legacy who is very unexposed having had just five runs so far, winning three times. He scored on the All Weather surface at Wolverhampton last month over 9 1/2 furlongs on his first start since finishing seventh in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot last June, winning in good style, but he has been raised a hefty 8lb for that comeback success.
That doesn’t make life easy, and while he could be a Group class horse masquerading as a handicapper, Leader’s Legacy is taken on today with the former Dermot Weld-trained TITUS, who appears to have turned over a new leaf since joining Yorkshire trainer Declan Carroll this year. A son of Dansili, out of a 10-furlong listed race winner, Titus beat subsequent Chester Vase winner and Group 1-placed Venice Beach on his racecourse debut in Ireland before losing his way.
He was subsequently sold for a relatively modest 47,000 guineas, and after showing little on his first start for his new connections won nicely over today’s trip at Wetherby three weeks ago. In a much better race at York 10 days ago, the four-year-old moved easily into the lead over a furlong out before eventually being caught, finishing third to the decent Thundering Home (see video below).
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There is a strong suspicion that Titus needs to be produced late on the scene, so with this in mind his apprentice rider should have learned a thing or two from the York run. He rates good each-way value running off the same mark.
The Queen’s Seniority scrambled home by a nose over a mile at Chelmsford last time out and is only 2lb higher. He stays well so is respected, while Mark Johnston has a fine recent record in this race so his Abareeq, raised 8lb after bolting up in a mile-and-a-half handicap at Newmarket last time, has to be a danger.
Others with a shout include Rebecca Bastiman’s Indian Chief, placed twice in two decent events of late, while Restorer, a good winner at the Chester May meeting and raised 5lb for his troubles, is another to consider along with Via Via, who drops back from listed class to handicap company. It’s hard to enthuse though over last year’s winner Briardale who was badly out of form at the end of last season.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.