AWESOME STORM TAKES PRIDE OF PLACE IN SELANGOR GOLD CUP
Kuala Lumpur, September 13
AWESOME STORM (Phenomenons – Forewarning by Magic Albert) is undoubtedly the best sprinter in the country in recent years with already 10 wins in 18 starts since arriving in Malaysia.
Who can forget his runaway win by a massive eight-and-a-half lengths in the Tunku Gold Cup (1200m) last year. He just failed to defend his crown this year when he went down to SAN ANDREAS by half a length last May.
The Australian six-year-old will face his biggest challenge yet when he takes on the best in the land in the RM150,000 Hygain Horse City Selangor Gold Cup run over 1600m at Sungei Besi this Sunday.
AWESOME STORM, who has won up to 1400m, has never been tested over the mile and will shoulder a punishing 60kg on his back. But who dares say that the champion cannot pull it off, especially with Jose De Souza on board.
Jose is the rider who rode him regularly last year, including in the Tunku Gold Cup, and recently scored a comeback win on him.
Trainer Simon Dunderdale must know a thing or two about his charge to nominate him for the Selangor Gold Cup.
Dunderdale is in an enviable position in the Cup this Sunday. He has two other very good runners in PASIR PINJI and GOOD FIGHT.
PASIR PINJI (Nadeem – Mistaar by Iffraaj), who managed a solitary win in Open Maiden in Singapore, has made astonishing progress since his move across the causeway.
The New Zealand gelding rose from Class 5 to win eight (and was placed second twice) of his 10 starts in Malaysia. And he is a proven miler with a double over 1600m and 1775m last month. The seven-year-old is eyeing his fifth consecutive win on Sunday.
Currently Singapore-based Bernado Pinheiro, who has scored twice on him in hit-and-run visits to Sungei Besi, will make the trip again on Sunday. That looks an awesome combination.
GOOD FIGHT (Super One – Bella Elegante by Exceed And Excel), with one win in nine runs at Kranji, has won six times in 14 outings in Malaysia and is a last-start winner in Class 3. But he is yet to be tested over 1600m and will have to raise his game a notch or two.
If AWESOME STORM is talked of as a potential winner, then SAN ANDREAS (Smart Missile – Shamardal Gold by Shamardal) must be considered a strong contender too.
The Australian gelding came from last early to beat AWESOME STORM in the Tunku Gold Cup this year and he will be well suited by the distance on Sunday.
Winner of just one race (over 1600m) in five runs in Singapore, the Australian gelding has won seven times in 22 starts in Malaysia.
Since his shock win in the Tunku Gold Cup, SAN ANDREAS has registered three good placings over various distances. He will be aiming to be the first to complete the Tunku and Selangor Gold Cup double since SUPERB CLASSIC in 2005.
Edson Ferreira, who rode him in the Tunku Gold Cup, will partner the gelding again.
But the horse everyone might have to beat is BERRY BLISS (Charm Spirit – Star Class Eagle by Domesday).
Imported into the country unraced, the New Zealand five-year-old has won nine times up to 1775m in 17 starts and he the second highest rated runner in the field.
BERRY BLISS is in superb form, winning three of his last four runs and beating the talented KONG FU PANDA last time out. Apprentice Clyde Leck, who was his regular rider before starting his current stint in Singapore, will be back for the first time to partner him in the Cup.
KONG FU PANDA (Showcasing – Hermitage by Generous) came into prominence with seven wins in the last two seasons, also finishing second to BLACK THORN in the Selangor Gold Cup last year.
The New Zealand gelding has yet to win in 2023 but has performed consistently with placings behind BERRY BLISS, AWESOME STORM and SINCERELY in his last five starts.
BLACK THORN (Redwood – Veva Girl by Fastnet Rock) is a pale shadow of his former self, finishing down the field in four runs since his Cup success. This is probably why his owner decided on a change of trainer and transferred him to Frank Maynard recently.
Maynard also trains SKYDANCE ECLIPSE (Foxwedge – Mothwing by Encosta De Lago) who is also trying to find his way back to form after a winning start to the 2023 season.
Last December, the Australian gelding finished third to TELLER in the Piala Emas Sultan Selangor (2000m).
But then the Australian trainer has two in-form runners in LEOPARD ECLIPSE and SACRED GURU who both get into the race with very handy weights.
Eight-time winner LEOPARD ECLIPSE (Road To Rock – Kathy O’Reilly by O’Reilly) is in great form, having won his last two runs and as recently as last week. But this is a step-up in class, being pitted against this sort of company for the first time.
SACRED GURU (Savabeel – Biriyani by Danehill), who managed just one win in Singapore, has scored five times in Malaysia. Two weeks ago, the 10-year-old returned to the winner’s circle after more than two years to beat SINCERELY and SKYDANCE ECLIPSE over 1500m.
SINCERELY (Evasive – Desilusion by Dyhim Diamond) will carry the hopes of trainer Richard Lines who has never won the Selangor Gold Cup. Twice a winner in Singapore, the French gelding has also scored twice in Malaysia and both times beating KONG FU PANDA into second place.
The seven-year-old landed in Singapore with a record of three wins in France, including a listed race over 1600m. The Selangor Gold Cup is the type of race for him to win.
Lines has another runner in TOP KNIGHT (Zoustar – Nero Cavallo by Charnwood Forest), on paper the best-credentialled runner in the race.
The Australian gelding won the Singapore Guineas in 2019 and the Derby and Queen Elizabeth II Cup the following year.
A recent transfer to Lines, the 10-time winner is unplaced in seven outings since taking out a Class 1 in June last year.
ARC TRIUMPH (Showcasing – Wind Of Savannah by Savabeel) is the third highest in the ratings together with TOP KNIGHT.
Six times a winner in Singapore, the New Zealand gelding has performed consistently with five wins to his credit in Malaysia. His only crack at a Cup race thus far was in the Tunku Gold Cup this year in which he finished eighth.
The 2023 Selangor Gold Cup, sponsored by Hygain Horse City, will be a clash of proven quality versus the upstarts. With a capacity field of 16 runners, it’s definitely a race to look forward to.
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