In a bygone era – the Shepparton Gold Cup was one of the most sought after prizes in Victorian provincial harness racing.
Champions the calibre of Raiarmagh Pool, Bold David, Just Too Good, Royal Gaze, Popular Alm and Quite Famous just to name a few not only contested the race, but etched their name into the record books by winning in front of capacity crowds, while in more recent times horses such as Sokyola, Sting Lika Bee and Mr Feelgood have greeted the judge.
The race appeared to lose its identity for a period of time, but is now back to where it once belonged and a terrific field lined up at the Kialla Racing Complex on Saturday January 18 for the 2014 version – a Group 2 event for M0 or better class horses over 2690 metres sponsored by Neatline Homes– the victor being Cranbourne Cup winner Gold Ace for NSW based Belinda and Luke McCarthy.
In what was one of the most exciting cups this season, Smudge Bromac one of three David Aiken trained runners handed up to Bitobliss (20 metres) shortly after the start, with The Gold Ace (20 metres) circling to race in the open being followed up by the phenomenal Smoken Up (30 metres) who assumed control mid-race.
While all this was going on, Restrepo (10 metres) was enjoying the run of the race just off the speed.
The favourite Bendigo Cup winner Im Corzin Terror was slowly away from 10 metres settling closer to last than first, while Scandalman having his first try from the tapes missed away hopelessly and was tailed off.
When Luke McCarthy put his foot to the floor with The Gold Ace in an effort to cross Smoken Up in the last lap, the tempo was hectic and it appeared that the likes of Bitobliss and Restrepo could fight out the finish, however it was Smoken Up showing his “never say die” attitude holding a slender margin all the way up the running only to be bloused in the last stride by a game The Gold Ace, with Restrepo third – the sectional times for the last mile being 30, 32, 27.3 and 28.3 seconds – the margins being a head by a half neck in a mile rate of 2-00.6.
A prolific winning intact son of Bettors Delight and Hill Of Gold, The Gold Ace has raced only 52 times for 20 wins and 12 placings and in all probability will now go straight into the A.G. Hunter Cup in two weeks time.