Gold Trip set to contest Winter Challenge at Randwick

Originally scheduled to make his Australian debut in the Cox Plate, the mid-winter appearance of high-class French import Gold Trip might be a lower-key affair, but it will be no less anticipated.

An Australian Bloodstock syndication and multiple Group 1 placegetter in Europe, Gold Trip was sensationally scratched on Cox Plate eve when Racing Victoria vets ruled he was lame.

A subsequent foot issue wiped out plans to run him during the Sydney autumn, leading the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained five-year-old to Saturday’s Listed Winter Challenge (1500m) at Randwick.

Eustace is relieved to finally get the horse to the races and says Saturday’s assignment is an important fact-finding mission.

“It is a race for us to learn a little bit more about him, but we are just looking forward to getting him back to the races for the owners,” Eustace said on Sky Sports radio.

“The horse should have run in the spring, and we got held up in the autumn for another reason.

“His European form suggests he is a 2000 and 2400 (metre horse), but you see time and time again these horses come over and acclimatise and have a just a little bit more sharpness when they step out.”

With a benchmark rating of 114, equal to that of 2021 All-Star Mile winner and potential Winter Challenge rival Mugatoo, Gold Trip and his fellow Australian Bloodstock galloper are clearly the class in the race.

Pending Gold Trip’s performance, he is likely to be freshened up for the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) on September 17 and longer-term, a second chance at a Cox Plate start.

“I think 1500 is actually ideal for him to have his first start and his second-up run is then going to really identify where he goes, but we’d like to end up running in a Cox Plate with him,” Eustace said.

The stable will also be represented in the Winter Challenge by stakes performer Charleise, who is coming off a Listed placing on a heavy track in Brisbane.

Unbeaten in two starts at the distance and with the benefit of race fitness, Eustace believes the mare could be the surprise packet.

“She will handle the conditions, she’s fit, she’s got runs under her belt, a lovely weight. I think she will run a really big race,” he said.

About RS NewsWire

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