desert links horse
desert links horse

Desert Links : Canon Gold Cup 2008

(Photo : John Lewis)

Group 3 $200,000 Jumbo Jet Trophy

The 3200m Canon Gold Cup (Gr1) kicks off the new South African racing season on Saturday and it’s fitting that champion of the 2008 renewal, Desert Links, should embark on his Singapore campaign exactly a year from that historic day.

On Sunday 2 August, the son of Kahalwill line up in the weight-for-age Group 3 $200,000 Jumbo Jet Trophy over 1400m, for trainer David Hill and jockey Mark Gallagher aboard.

Thoroughbred News Singapore reports that David Hill is filling in as caretaker-trainer of Desert Links until Basil Marcus takes up his Singapore training post next year.

David Hill and Basil Marcus have a long history together having teamed up in Hong Kong during the 1990’s, when Hill was in the training ranks and Marcus a leading jockey.

Desert Links arrived from Dubai with trainer Herman Brown in May, when Jay Peg was in town to defend his Singapore Airlines International Cup crown. He was left behind for Basil Marcus to take over as trainer upon his arrival in Singapore.

The gelding has been in David Hill’s yard just shy of two months and to date hasn’t been asked to do anything too strenuous, although he did catch the eye with a good second in a 1000m trial on July 21.

“He’s been in my stables from around the middle of June,” said Hill. “He hasn’t been asked to do anything too strenuous to date. He’s just been out to do some long slow canters and he’s had one trial to sharpen him up a bit. He was finishing the trial off quite nicely and I’m hoping he will be doing the same in his race on Sunday.”

“I am a little concerned whether he is fit enough to run, but I thought the seven furlongs (1400m) would be a good race to start him off in. I just hope he doesn’t blow out in the straight. If he does then I’ll have to give him quite a bit more work.”

David Hill said he was quite taken with Desert Links who is a seven time winner in South Africa including two wins at “black type” level.

“He looks like a racehorse and importantly performs like one,” said Hill. “The hardest part is trying to get a guide on his form, but he certainly looks the part anyway.”

Following Sunday’s race, David Hill said he would look at stepping Desert Links up in distance in an effort to get him to his ultimate goal, the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2200m in November. He explained that Desert Links would target the new “Classic” races aimed at getting more stayers into Singapore.

“There will be some nice races for him in the lead-up to the Gold Cup,” said Hill. “Those new staying races that the club will be putting on will be ideal for him. I hope that he can pick up some prizemoney along the way before I hand him over to Basil, so in the meantime I’ll just keep him ticking over through to the Gold Cup.”

Desert Links is a five-year-old by Kahal from the Home Guard mare Selborne Park. He arrived in Singapore with a rating of 97 and has raced on 22 occasions in South Africa and Dubai, registering seven wins and a further three second placings over distances of 1600m up to 3200m.