Sports

El Dorado Classic winner Quechua eyes the Gold Cup

TNP PHOTO: NURJANNAH ZULKIFLI

Argentine stayer QUECHUA cemented his status as one of the early favourites for the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup over 2,200m on Nov 16 with an easy win in the traditional lead-up, the $150,000 El Dorado Classic over the Gold Cup trip yesterday.

After being settled in the first tier under a good hold from jockey Corey Brown, the Patrick Shaw-trained galloper was never in doubt once he was launched four wide with a swooping run from the 600m mark.

Backed down to solid $15 favouritism, Quechua looked home and hosed when he drew clear by two lengths halfway up the home straight, but started to wobble out to the centre of the track under pressure.

Smelling blood, Cheetah On Fire pounced on the rails, but Brown was able to steer Quechua straight to the line to hold his bold challenger safely at bay by two and a half lengths.

Quechua improved the course record by 0.27sec to 2min 13.94sec. Two races earlier, Spalato also bettered the 1,200m record in the Luzerne Cup.

Quechua's stablemate Emperor's Banquet seems to have also earned his Gold Cup ticket, with his creditable third, one and a quarter lengths away.

Shaw said the game plan with his El Dorado winner was always to stretch him in distance from Day 1, with the Gold Cup always in their sights.

After making his Kranji debut in a 1,400m race, he had progressively been stepped up to 1,600m, 2,200m, back to 2,000m when he registered his first local win, and then 2,200m again, with the same winning results.

"He's fully acclimatised now. We always knew that if he settles, he will stay," said the South African conditioner, who won the Gold Cup with Mr Line in 2006.

"He had his first run over 1,400m and did well. When we stepped him up to 2,200m, that found him out, but he made amends in the next 2,000m race. Today, we put him back over 2,200m and he scored a good, nice solid win. He had a nice weight (51.5kg) on his back and let's hope he can go to the Gold Cup with a light weight as well."