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Sayce Gold ready again next month

Sayce Gold will be ready to run again next month, with the benefit of a short break following her defeat at Thurles.

The Mick Winters-trained mare won a bumper, a maiden hurdle and a Grade Three all in the space of four weeks.

She then dropped back a mile to the minimum trip for a Listed event at Thurles, but was never travelling with her usual zest and trailed in well beaten.

“I’ll start looking at races for her after February 1,” said Winters.

“There’s a race at Navan she could run in next month – we’re just looking after her, because she’s a big horse.

“We’re happy with her. Last time we might have just gone to the well a bit soon – but it could have been ground, (or) it could have been the trip.

“The jockey (Darragh O’Keeffe) reported to the stewards that she didn’t give him the same drag down to the start even.”

Winters himself sensed in the preliminaries that Sayce Gold was perhaps not quite herself.

He said: “I thought before the race she was a little fractious.

“That was unusual, because she can be moody at home but usually when she gets to the track she’s very quiet and professional.

“She’s had a couple of weeks off, has just been ridden back for the first time – and we’ll look for a race in February.

“I’ll have a chat with Mick Meagher (owner Trevor Hemmings’ racing manager).”

Sayce Gold out to keep up winning run for Winters

Eight days after taking Cheltenham by storm with Chatham Street Lad, Mick Winters is hoping Sayce Gold can win her fourth successive race in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Boreen Belle Mares Novice Hurdle at Thurles.

Chatham Street Lad was a brilliant winner of last Saturday’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in the Cotswolds, after which his ever-popular trainer performed a celebratory roll on the ground in the Prestbury Park winner’s enclosure.

While scenes are likely to be a more low-key should Sayce Gold triumph in Listed company on Sunday, she is undoubtedly an exciting prospect – having already won a Fairyhouse bumper, a Thurles maiden hurdle and a Grade Three at Cork this term.

“We were worried about the extra trip going up to three miles in Mallow (Cork), and now we’re coming back to two miles, so we’ll see how it goes,” said Winters.

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“She looks well in herself, and we’re very hopeful and looking forward to it.

“She has to give a bit of weight away to the younger horses. But she’s a big, strong mare – and it’s not going to be easy for four-year-olds in very soft ground.

“This mare has her job done so far, and hopefully she can keep it going.”

The Trevor Hemmings-owned Sayce Gold heads a field of 11 runners, with a pair of unbeaten four-year-olds in Henry de Bromhead’s Kapard and the Willie Mullins-trained course-and-distance winner Gauloise among her rivals.

Chatham Street Lad bolted up at Cheltenham
Chatham Street Lad bolted up at Cheltenham (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Winters also provided an upbeat report on Chatham Street Lad’s condition, with connections identifying a handicap chase at Fairyhouse in the new year as a potential next target.

The eight-year-old was priced up for the Marsh Novices’ Chase, the RSA Chase and the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival following his latest triumph, and his trainer is in no rush to decide where he will end up come March.

He said: “We had an enjoyable trip across the water. We were well looked after, and we really appreciated it.

“It was very exciting watching the young jockey on him (Darragh O’Keeffe) floating down the hill. It’s made us all walk a little bit lighter for the moment!

“The horse has come back home very well – the race didn’t knock a feather out of him, and he came out of it without a scratch. He travelled better home than he went.

“The owners are thinking of running in Fairyhouse in January – there’s a two-mile-one-furlong handicap chase there. He’s in great order and he might go there.

“The owners have plenty of time on their hands because they’re half in lockdown, so they’ll be studying away seeing what’s what.

“I think he’s improving all the time, and he can have a bit of time off over Christmas while we all watch the King George and the big races at Leopardstown and stuff like that.”

Thurles possibility for exciting Sayce Gold

Sayce Gold could make a quick reappearance in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Boreen Belle Mares Novice Hurdle at Thurles on Sunday.

Trainer Michael Winters is eyeing the Listed contest over two miles for the exciting seven-year-old, who completed a four-week hat-trick when scoring by eight lengths at Cork.

That success came in a Grade Three heat over three miles, while her two earlier wins were over two-miles-seven at Thurles and in a two-mile bumper at Fairyhouse.

Winters is tempted to run the Trevor Hemmings-owned mare before Christmas, in a race won in 2018 by Irish Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle, as Sayce Gold has taken her recent exertions so well.

“She came up from the gallop, just to keep her ticking over, and her ears were pricked and she was dancing and having a slight skip and trot,” said the County Cork handler.

“I’d imagine there’s a possibility she’ll running in Thurles. It sounds very close, but she’s bouncing. We don’t have to give her any gallop, but we’ll play it by ear.

“When the ground goes against her we’ll be stepping aside because we want her for chasing next year. It would be great fun and it’s exciting to watch her jump fences at home. She is so athletic.

“I hate to put my head on the block, but the entry is going to be made and, if all is good, she might go there.”

Winters is already looking to next season when Sayce Gold switches to the bigger obstacles.

“She’ll go novice chasing next season and it probably be next October if the ground is right,” he added.

Super Sayce is all Gold for Mick Winters

Sayce Gold looks a hugely exciting prospect for Mick Winters having strolled to victory in the Kerry Group Stayers Novice Hurdle at Cork.

Winters has scaled the heights of the game with the likes of Rebel Fitz and Missunited – and after a few quiet seasons he looks sure to be back in big time with this Trevor Hemmings-owned mare.

The seven-year-old won a point-to-point last November and broke her duck under rules in her second bumper at Fairyhouse last month.

Sent immediately over hurdles, the imposing type stepped up to just short of three miles at Thurles and fairly bolted up, making all the running.

Up in class to Grade Three company on this occasion, she was ridden with more restraint by Darragh O’Keeffe but never looked in any danger.

Always travelling extremely strongly, O’Keeffe was happy to stick to the rail while several rivals went in search of better ground and on turning into the straight Sayce Gold (7-4) was clear.

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She did not have to be asked a question to beat Ragnar Lodbrok by eight lengths.

“We are very lucky to have one like that and we have great help at home and all work together. Darragh O’Keeffe came over the other day when Brian Hayes (riding at Punchestown) couldn’t make it and did a bit of work with her,” said Winters.

“She learned a bit today as she didn’t have to do it all in front.

“I think two and a half miles is perfect for her and soft ground is a help – if the ground was too quick you wouldn’t run, she loves to put her toe into it. I have no idea what plans are and I’ll leave that to Mick Meagher, Trevor’s manager.”

Reflecting on some of the good horses he has had in his care, Winters said: “Some horses you can see, some you can’t. When Rebel Fitz came into the yard, he reminded me of Master Minded, although I had one horse Monsignor (dual Cheltenham winner) who was a great mover and I even had him out hunting, but he slipped me.

“I had him out hunting and a man hopped off him after a day’s hunting and said ‘he’s only a hunter!’.

“If she (Sayce Gold) is one piece and we are all alive, fences are tempting.”

Mount Ida put in a huge leap at the final fence to win the Kerry Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, the six-year-old had finished one place behind Joseph O’Brien’s Scarlet And Dove in third at this track last month, and the two met again on the same terms.

It was the two main market protagonists who were fighting out the finish in the straight and the final fence proved a turning point.

Denis O’Regan was positive on his mount, asking for everything, and she fairly flew it, while Scarlet And Dove was not quite as fluent.

Mount Ida, the 5-2 favourite, went on to win by four and a half lengths.

“She stayed at it well. I felt if she showed up in the same form as the last day, with a good round of jumping, and go forward a bit earlier, she was bound to be competitive,” said O’Regan.

“She possibly came forward from her run the last day and that run the last day wasn’t a bad race. It is lovely to win the race and get the black type all in one.

“It’s great to get a winner for Gordon.”