Perfect Neighbour claims Gold Cup with blistering finish
The 2013 derby and St Leger winner PERFECT NEIGHBOUR ticked off another major win at Caymanas Park yesterday, capturing the 44th running of the Alex's Imports Gold Cup feature over 1400 metres for grade one horses.
Installed a marginal 7-5 favourite over last year's winner, POTCHEEN, at 8-5 in a star-studded field of seven, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, with title-chasing jockey Robert Halledeen riding for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, ran on strongly on the inside rails leaving the furlong pole to outfinish hat-trick seeker UPPA TUNE (3-1), under Paul 'Country' Francis, by 11/2 lengths.
With DaCosta's other runner, the in-form American horse, FORTUNEONEHUNDRED, missing the break, UPPA TUNE showed his usual dash to lead the early stages, but FORTUNEONEHUNDRED, with apprentice Linton Steadman, recovered quickly on the inside to join UPPA TUNE on the lead after the first 400 metres.
Both raced neck and neck just ahead of UNCLE TAF (8-1), followed by PERFECT NEIGHBOUR some six lengths off the pace in fourth passing the half mile. But it was UPPA TUNE who proved the strongest to turn for home three lengths clear, only to be gobbled up by PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, who came flying at the crucial stage under a torrid right hand stick, for a decisive win.
The recent Fontainbleu Trophy winner, UNCLE TAF, kept pace with the leaders to the last furlong to finish another 13/4 lengths third, with FORTUNEONEHUNDRED fourth.
DaCosta, who is well on course for a record 15th trainers' title, which would surpass the legendary Philip Feanny, hailed PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, a five-year-old dark bay horse by Natural Selection out of Desperatehousewife who has won practically everything on the calendar for total stakes of 18.3 million.
"He's an exceptional horse who has settled down since his three-year-old career. He has won from six furlongs to a mile and a half and with the Superstakes and inaugural running of the rich Diamond Mile coming up in a matter of weeks, I feel good about his chances," added DaCosta.
PERFECT NEIGHBOUR is co-owned by Alfred Lee and Jeffrey Mordecai and bred by the Y.S. (1955) Limited.
Meanwhile, DaCosta and Halledeen teamed up for a second winner on the 10-race programme, with the Alexander Haber-owned three-year-old gelding, POKER STAR, who romped the fifth race over 1300 metres in the smart time of 1:17.2.
Also saddling two winners was second-generation trainer Ryan Darby, including the 300th of his career, GIRLY GIRLY LINKS, at 2-1 in the two-year-old race.
Darby started training in 1998 and saddled his first winner, ROMANTIC HUNK, that year with Winston Griffiths aboard.
Griffiths and Feanny, the one-time dream team of local racing, got together to win the third race aboard 2-5 favourite CAMPESINO, while leading jockey Shane Ellis celebrated his 42nd birthday with a win aboard LORD STORM (9-5) in the third race over 1100 metres.