Johnston double-handed as he aims for a Racing UK Zetland Gold Cup hat-trick

Saturday 27 May 2017

Johnston double-handed as he aims for a Racing UK Zetland Gold Cup hat-trick

MARK Johnston has won the last two runnings of the Zetland Gold Cup – and he’ll be double-handed as he bids for a hat-trick in one of Redcar’s feature races of the season on Bank Holiday Monday.

The in-form Middleham maestro, pictured, won with Revolutionist last year and Fire Fighting in 2015 and goes into battle this year with Rainbow Rebel and Beardwood, having originally had four entries in the race.

Rainbow Rebel, ridden by PJ McDonald, looks the more likely of the pair but Johnston runners always have to be taken into account and Beardwood, with stable stalwart Joe Fanning up, will have his supporters.

It looks a really competitive race and Johnston’s fellow Middleham trainer, James Bethell, also looks likely to have a big say with ante-post favourite Briardale, partnered by Paul Hanagan.
Briardale had Rainbow Rebel just over a length back in fourth when a neck second to Gurkha Friend at Ripon a week ago and the weight difference remains the same. Briardale had previously won well over 1m 2f on the all-weather at Newcastle, keeping on strongly to beat David O’Meara’s Gaelic Tiger, and the form looks solid.

Other winning trainers in recent years also come back for more. Thirsk-based David Barron clearly has a soft spot for the race having won with Clon Brulee in 2013 and Flipando in 2007. He’s represented by Swift Emperor who’s been running consistently this season and stayed on strongly over a mile to win at Newcastle in March.

Scottish trainer Jim Goldie loves a tilt at big handicaps and won the Racing UK Zetland Gold Cup with veteran grey gelding Nanton in 2013. Goldie’s raider from his Renfrewshire stables this time is recent Ayr winner Euchen Glen.

Ian Williams was in the money with Cashpoint in the big race in 2014 and he makes the journey from Worcestershire with Banditry who won at Lingfield in February.

It’s also hard to ignore Roger Varian’s King Bolete, the only mount for Andrea Atzeni, who has been acting as pacemaker for illustrious stablemate Postponed in recent outings.

In March, Sheikh Mohammmed’s bay gelding was supporting the King George winner in a Group 2 race, won by Prize Money, at Meydan, in Dubai

The time before that, King Bolete was given the task of setting a strong pace in the Juddmonte International at York, with Postponed victorious that day (pictured).

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King Bolete is a useful horse in his own right and his two wins last year, at Haydock and Ascot, came in May and June so he clearly comes to hand at this time of year. He has to be considered despite a steadier of 10 stones on his back.

The message from racecourse manager, Amy Fair, is to get there early. “Gates open at 11am, with the first of seven races at 12.45pm, so don’t leave it too late,” she said.

Redcar is enjoying a really positive start to the season, with three eight-race cards out of four so far. Racing UK Zetland Gold Cup day looks to be another cracker, with plenty of family entertainment to complement the racing, including bouncy castles, face-painting, stilt-walkers and “Learn How To Be A Princess” parties in the Course Enclosure.



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