Singapore Cup day some 12 months ago, the stable was cheering home Melbourne Cup winning jockey Corey Brown aboard Gilt Complex in the Kranji stakes C over 1800m, the consolation race for Gold Cup aspirants that did not make the field. Feeling somewhat bemused by the handicappers decision to leave Gilt Complex out of the 2016 Gold Cup, Corey remarked post race that had he gained a Gold Cup start he would of been a huge light weight chance.
Fast forward to Sunday, and a plan hatched a year ago by Cliff together with owner Graham Mackie came to fruition, with Gilt Complex winning the 2017 Singapore Gold Cup, in one of the best finishes seen in many years. Racing is such a tough game and more often than not plans do not come off (particularly 12 month plans!), but in a training masterclass by Cliff, Gilt Complex peaked at exactly the right time, to prove he is the best stayer in Singapore and add the third leg of the Triple Crown to go with his Raffles Cup Victory some 3 weeks ago.
With a perfect draw in 2, and with stable jockey Michael Rodd able to take the ride with stable star Debt Collector not attempting to add the Gold Cup this year to his fabulous CV, the omens were looking good for Gilt Complex to run the race of his life. What Gilt Complex had to contend with was a recent race history of light weight winners and also one of the most open Singapore Gold Cups for many a year, which included stablemates Elite Excalibur and Laughing Gravy.
Using his good gate to advantage Rodd was able to have Gilt Complex out quickly and had him well positioned before the first turn, which was critical as it was a charge of the light brigade with those drawn wide looking to cross over towards the front of the field. Elite Excalibur was one of these, but unfortunately stable mate Laughing Gravy copped severe interference with Emporer’s Banquet looking for the rail when not clear and clearly costing the big bay 3 or 4 lengths as Craig Grylls had grab hold of Gravy so as not to fall.
From there a genuine tempo was set with leaders Order Of The Sun and Forever Young matching strides with Elite Excalibur in the “one back and one out” position next to last year’s winner Bahana followed by Gilt Complex on the outside of Newlands. With 800m to go the runs started to commence with Newlands the first to make a move, attempting to angle out, faultering and dropping back through the field. Rodd avoided the back wash and on straightening had Gilt Complex in the clear and ready to let rip at the top of the straight some three lengths off the leading pack.
With the leaders weakening, it looked like last years winner Bahana and Elite Excalibur had the race between them, going toe to toe up the straight with Gilt Complex grinding away just behind them, and Majestic Moments setting sail down the outside. At the 200m with the three nearly in a line and no room between for a improving Gilt Complex, Rodd switched the big son of Gold Centre back to the rails. Once clear on the rails Gilt Complex found another gear and with all jockeys throwing everything at their mounts, Gilt Complex and Bahana hit the line together with Elite Excalibur inches away. Race Caller Matthew Jones’s voice “It’s a photo in the Gold Cup” echoed around Kranji Racecourse.
It took an agonizing few minutes for the result to be known and when number 2 went into the frame, joy took over. An emotional Rodd paid tribute to the team effort heaping praise on both Cliff and B trainer Tim Fitzsimmons for their incredible efforts with the team of horses, and of course the courage of Gilt Complex on the biggest stage of them all. There were great scenes at the winners stall with owners and connections joining in for the post race photo’s and then the formal presentation post race.
Stable mate Elite Excalibur was incredibly brave in running third, (his third Group 1 placing this year), and is sure to capture Group 1 Glory in Singapore. Laughing Gravy battled on into 8th place with pre-race plans ruined by being bumped after jumping and copping a severe check at the winning post the first time round.
The Gold Cup victory continued the stable’s great run in the feature races in Singapore, winning the last two group 1’s of the season to go with a record haul of 5 Group 1 wins last season. This season the stable also had Group 1 2nd place finishes in the Patron’s Bowl (Elite Excalibur), QE 11 Cup (Laughing Gravy), Raffles Cup (Elite Excalibur), and 3rd place in the Kranji Mile (Debt Collector) and the Gold Cup (Elite Excalibur).
Gilt Complex has been a revelation since joining the stable in March 2016, and through Cliff’s careful planning has achieved the ultimate success. It’s been a huge team effort with from his Syce Shar looking after him so ably to all the other syce’s and track riders contributing to the success. Sure to be crowned 2017 Champion Stayer, Gilt Complex is now a dual Group 1 winner and has amassed over 1.5 million for owners Graham Mackie and Trish Dunell. Still lightly raced, the 6 year old will prove to be a major force in the feature races again next season.