Past Winners » African Gold


While Salubrious ran into a rapidly improving horse in At Fishers Cross on his most recent run, and is still a lightly-raced horse with a good deal of potential himself, he was ultimately put in his place quite readily. Also, the winner apart, the rest of the race is not working out well, he has to prove he stays quite this far and that he handles ground this testing – it is heavy ground all over on the hurdles course – and Harry Derham is replacing Ruby Walsh in the saddle. He is a horse who can be overbet and that is the case again today.

Bakbenscher is interesting, he was as good as he has ever been over hurdles when winning at Haydock last Saturday and he is unbeaten – four for four now – in heavy ground. However, his jumping is always a slight issue and the fact that they omitted two of the hurdles in the home straight was a big advantage for him last weekend. That race fell apart in front of him a little and, under a penalty, I am happy to take him on today too.

African Gold has a lot going for him in my book and I am backing him at 11/2. Nigel Twiston-Davies’s gelding is only four, he has run just four times in his life, three times over hurdles, but he has already reached a high level of form. He took a big step forward from his previous runs to win over this course and distance on his most recent run at the Hennessy meeting.

The strong galloping Ivor’s King set a decent pace from the start that day, half the runners were beaten at the end of the back straight and, from a group of four who had gone clear around the home turn, African Gold and Faultless Feelings broke away from the third last hurdle. Faultless Feelings had a very narrow advantage against the stands rail over the final flight but African Gold stayed on really strongly out in the centre of the track, away from the favoured stands rail, and was ultimately quite well on top at the line, with a big gap after the second horse back to the rest.

That race is working out well. Four horses have come out of the race so far – Faultless Feelings and Ivor’s King have both finished third in a higher grade in open handicap company, the sixth home, John’s Gem, has won a race at Plumpton, and Bathwick Brave, who fell on the far side at Newbury, has been beaten fairly narrowly twice since having looked the winner both times.

The fact that that win for African Gold came over course and distance, and on soft ground, is significant today. Also, he had run well on his hurdling debut on heavy ground at Carlisle behind Ballybough Pat, who has since been second in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle and who runs in the Challow Hurdle today.His win at Wetherby on his penultimate run is working out well too.

He was raised 8lb for winning last time, which is not excessive given how far he and the runner-up came clear, and, although he is 3lb out of the handicap today, he will be better equipped than most to handle conditions. He will have just 10st on his back and he has much more scope to progress again than most in the race.