€300,000 ARC Maurice de Gheest: King Gold's nose down, French heads up

6 August 2023

Gheest 23 King Gold

Photo scoopdyga.com


Sunday, August 6, 2023, Deauville Racecourse (Calvados). - Three horses trained in France, two of them by Nicolas Caullery, faced off against seven British raiders over the €300,000 ARC Prix Maurice de Gheest (Gr1)'s straight 6.5 furlongs trip. However, it was one of these steadfast French thoroughbreds that, digging deep in the latest strides, managed to keep a tiny edge over the English favourite, Spycatcher (Vadamos): the 6-year-old gelding King Gold (Anodin), bred by co-owner Mrs. Christian Wingtans and saddled Nicolas Caullery, and smartly ridden here just behind... Spycatcher! The gray took the lead from the recent winner of the Prix de Ris-Orangis (Gr3) a hundred yards from home, but it was never going to be easy, and the French horse defeated the British buy a short head, but it was a close call indeed. Just behind them, at a neck, Saint Lawrence (Al Kazeem), who took some time to find the way forward, finished a promising third.

It's worth noting that Vadamos, the sire of the beaten favourite, is now primarily used for national hunt stock, while Al Kazeem, the sire of the third, won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Gr1) over 1m4f. Anodin, the winning sire, was indeed a miler, but he is also partly known for producing jumpers at stud.

King Gold has a unique profile, too. He is the second of four foals out of the unraced Miss Gandelia (Kingsalsa), a sister to the good performer Queen America (American Post), placed in Group races as a 2-year-old, and also the dam of the promising Queensalsa (Kingsalsa), also placed in Group races as a 2-year-old.

Miss Gandelia has also given the 4-year-old Missalia (Prince Gibraltar), a race winner, and a 2-year-old by Spanish Moon.

As for King Gold, he has run thirty-one races and won eight times, including four of his last five outings. He started off as a 2-year-old and raced only once but won immediately in the following season. He then alternated between conditions races, handicaps, and stakes races, managing to take second place in the Grosser Preis von Lotto Hamburg (Gr3), over 6 furlongs, last July. He also spent the winter in Dubai this year, without claiming victory, before winning twice in a row and finishing third in the Prix du Palais-Royal (Gr3). He had just avenged himself in the Prix de la Porte Maillot (Gr3), and he more than confirms his form here, allowing his trainer, Nicolas Caullery, to saddle his first Group 1 winner.

What they said:

Nicolas Caullery (trainer of King Gold, 1st) - Chantilly Training Center (60)

"This is great! There was a photo finish... I thought we had won at the post, but I had some doubts when they played the finish on TV. Then, the number 8 appeared on the big screen... It would have been tough to come down from our little cloud. There's not much at the post, and history remembers the winners, not the second-place finishers. Regardless of the race, you have to win it!

We have always loved King Gold. He already showed promise at 2; he had some health issues. We took our time for him. At the beginning of the year, he went to Meydan, where he was unlucky; he deserved to win. I believe that trip triggered something in him; he gained a lot of maturity and experienced fast races. He came back to France: Main handicaps, Class 1, Group 3, and now Group 1, all in six months.

For his owners and breeders, this is the result of forty years of work with this family; it's just great. I think of many people... My wife, my family, my friends. The whole team, because it's a team effort. Racing is like rock and roll!"

Stéphane Pasquier (jockey of King Gold, 1st)

"Huge congratulations to the team and trainer Nicolas Caullery, who made this horse! There is a lot of emotion. I had the perfect race, and the horse showed determination until the end. He is giving it all. He was incredible today!"

Harry Herbert (manager of Highclere Thoroughbred Ltd, co-owner of Spycatcher, 2nd)

"He delivered a great performance. We almost retired him last year, but our veterinarian treated him, and he was able to return to competition. All credit goes to his trainer Karl Burke and his team, who managed to bring him back to this level. Winning a Group 3 and coming so close to winning a Group 1 was really unexpected a year ago! We will probably aim him at a race like the Sprint Cup at Haydock."