Review: Another Gold Cup trophy for Marcus

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Review: Another Gold Cup trophy for Marcus

<p>NICCI GARNER<br />
BASIL MARCUS, who twice took laurels in the Canon Gold Cup as a jockey, added a third trophy to his cabinet, this time as a trainer, when Desert Links won the R1.2-million Grade 1 event at Greyville on Saturday.</p>

<p>Desert Links, who Marcus admitted before the Durban July was being prepared especially for this race, was 7-2 co-favourite with Equal Image. Well-backed Omaha Beach, who had finished second in this race last year, was next on offer at 11-2 with River Jetez the only other runner quoted in single figures at 9-1.</p>
<p>As they went past the post for the first time Brian Nyawo on Bayete and Brandon Lerena on Prince Asad were disputing the lead, with the latter conceding right of passage to his older rival shortly afterwards. They were followed by Ser de Carrera in third and Equal Image in fourth with Meteor Shower on the grey favourite&rsquo;s outside. Magical Ballad was hugging the paint behind Equal Image with Desert Links racing wide alongside Autumn Frost on the fence and Wainona next best. River Jetez was midfield alongside Likeithot and Membrado with Jagged Ice, Floatyourboat and Master of Note on their heels. Pick Six and Long Dollar were near the back with Omaha Beach and Bill of Rights disputing last place.</p>
<p>The order remained much the same in a slow-run race as the field galloped down the back stretch, but jockey Greg Cheyne started niggling at Desert Links as the apex of the triangular track approached and they had moved up to join Equal Image halfway round the turn.</p>
<p>Brandon Lerena pounced as the field turned, but Prince Asad&rsquo;s lead was short-lived as he was swamped by challengers on all sides. Desert Links&rsquo; challenge proved decisive and he took the lead about 200m out. Membrado, who had been caught a little flatfooted, was closing sharply, but the line came in time for Desert Links to win going away by 1.25 lengths.</p>
<p>Omaha Beach, who wasted no time in mounting his challenge in the short straight, kept on strongly for third, another 1.50 lengths back with Magical Ballad keeping on well for third place.</p>
<p>Ser de Carrera finished fifth with Equal Image a one-paced sixth, 4.50 lengths behind the winner. Prince Asad weakened to seventh, while River Jetez never got a blow in at the leaders and finished ninth. The gallant pacemaker faded late to 16th.</p>
<p>An eltated Marcus said: &quot;He&rsquo;s a really decent horse and I was very confident because he had done exceptionally well in Durban. This time round (in KZN) he won his first start then ran a great fifth in the July. Our big concern was how well he would stay the 3200m. Of course, the ground was nice and quick, the race wasn&rsquo;t run at a fast clip, but he finished off very well. It was a great ride from Greg. He&rsquo;s a super horse.&rsquo;&rsquo;</p>
<p>It was the biggest win of Cheyne&rsquo;s career so far and he paid tribute to his mount: “It&rsquo;s not always your game plan to be three deep, but I had to accept the cards that were dealt to me. We stayed out of the scrum. He was loafing where he was and as the race was unfolding I could feel he was very happy. As we went through the 800m marker, he started taking the bit with me. So 600m out, I looped one and when I set him alight, he&rsquo;s got an incredible turn of foot. It was a very, very due win.&quot;</p>
<p>It was Desert Links’ seventh win from 19 career starts and the R250 000 buy at the 2005 National Yearling Sale has now banked more than R1.25 million.</p>

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