Defending Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup champion Sayler’s Creek landed safely at Grantley Adams International Airport yesterday with running mate Watchyourownbobber for next week’s running of the 35th Gold Cup. Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the pair arrived from Miami in good form.
“I think they are in great shape, no bumps, no bruises. Sayler’s Creek once again travelled without any problems with dehydration and Watchyourownbobber also came in fine –– he doesn’t seem dehydrated,” Dr Dean Springer, the official vet for the horses, told Sandy Lane correspondent Hayley Morrison.
A vet at the Garrison Savannah for the last 15 years, Springer inspects and oversees the care of the Gold Cup contenders to ensure they travel safely without any issues and remain hydrated and in good condition leading up to the big race.
“We usually do a quick skin pull test and if the skin doesn’t snap back into place pretty quickly you’re pretty much going to get an idea if they are dehydrated and how dehydrated they are.”
Upon arrival at the airport the horses received a vet inspection by the veterinary officer on call.
“We checked them for any signs of infectious or contagious diseases, any parasites. We checked to make sure that the markings or any microchip are the same. And, we ensure all the paperwork is in order,” said Dr Vicki Aimey, the vet attending to both Ramsey’s horses.
Once overseas horses clear customs they are then transported directly to the Garrison Savannah. During their stay at the Garrison the international horses are stabled separately from all the local horses at the track.
“We have a small area across the racetrack where they go in for quarantine. They don’t interact with the other horses and only certain people will be allowed in the quarantine area,” Springer said.
Even if there isn’t anything suspected with their condition, the international horses remain in quarantine until they fly back home after the race.
Settling in quickly, Sayler’s Creek seemed at home as he grazed outside his quarantine stall. Although the dark bay gelding romped home victoriously in last year’s Gold Cup he has not run a single race since then. The long lay off may leave fans wondering whether the former champ can make it a double and come out on top again. Upon his initial inspection of the horse and following his training abroad Springer didn’t seem too worried about Creek’s chances.
“I always tell people you don’t have to get a race on a race day to get a race in. You know you get the race from the starting gates . . . the Ramseys and Mike Maker [who trains the horses abroad] they have the facilities so they can put two or three horses together to work, get that race in before they travel. Obviously, most people would prefer to see a horse have a race or two going into a race like the Gold Cup, because it’s not an easy race.”
The six-year-old son of Bernstein has to contend with a strong field of nine other entrants including his flying mate, Watchyourownbobber. The four-year-old chestnut horse and son of Hard Spun may give him a run for his money. A graded stakes placed horse, Watchyourownbobber has been training out of Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida and turning in very quick workouts in preparation for the 1800m Gold Cup.
While they are in Barbados both horses will be trained under seasoned local horse trainer Jonathan Simpson. Given the vet’s go ahead both horses will be out on the track as early as tomorrow morning.
“They’ll probably just go out and have a look at the track, maybe trot around, canter around –– just enough to stretch their legs a little bit.”
The final pair of international horses are scheduled to arrive early next week. War Envoy, a four-year-old bay horse trained by Wesley Ward will be flown in with Dorsett, a six-year-old horse trained by Robert Pierce. Both horses are making their first Gold Cup appearance on March 5.