What a strange year it has been and it feels even stranger now as we are already beginning to see the yearling sales starting. With the new influx of youngsters being picked out by owners there are other sales where they can move on horses that don’t fit their future plans. Gift Of Kings was considered for the sales after a disappointing first half of the season but patience has paid off when he won the 1m2f Free Tips Daily On anthraces.com Handicap at Newcastle.
The fine looking Kingman colt was an exciting prospect last season when his work looked above average. It convinced Kevin to tackle the ultra competitive Convivial Maiden with Gift Of Kings. Finishing 6th was a very promising Strat to his career but he couldn’t quite go from that on his next run when encountering dead, tacky ground at Ayr. Despite not getting a win, Gift Of Kings was certainly an eye catching 3yo prospect with time to mature over the winter.
Back into training, it did seem as though Gift Of Kings would appreciate a little stamina test in time but he maintained plenty of speed. This led to him returning over a mile, where a finish of 5th was a very good effort, especially in a warm novice event. Unfortunately next time it was clear that the bare mile was too sharp and his future would certainly lie at 1m2f+. When Gift Of Kings headed to Doncaster to try the new trip, off a fair mark of 70, confidence was high that he could now show his true potential. It wasn’t to happen and the run proved to be very disappointing with Gift Of Kings always in the rear and never landing a blow.
After such a disappointing couple of runs the questions began to arise but Kevin and connections decided to keep the faith. Gift Of Kings had a second chance at Hambleton Lodge and he would immediately try to repay the faith. With the weather changing and turning conditions very tough, Gift Of Kings would head to Newcastle to try the Tapeta surface. The 1m2f trip and track should play into his hands as well as the drop to a mark of 68. Gift Of Kings had a lot of positives that looked to play into his hands but now he had to go and do it. Clipper Logistics retained rider, Danny Tudhope, was booked after being unavailable on his last two runs.
The 0-70 handicap attracted 14 runners and although competitive, Gift Of Kings was going into the contest as the least exposed. Up against elder counterparts, Gift Of Kings was the only likely improver in the field and the market spoke for that too. On just his second start over 1m2f, Gift Of Kings would be sent off the 11/4f.
Connections felt that if any day could be the day then this was it and Danny would ride with plenty of confidence. Leaving the stalls well, Gift Of Kings was not rushed and settled into the race towards the rear of the field. There wasn’t much separating first to last through the early stages and Gift Of Kings had only 3 behind him. They passed through the first furlong, racing slightly left handed past a small kink int he track to head down the back straight. It was a fair gallop being set and Gift Of Kings travelled fine but just took a pull for a couple of strides.
Very few of the runners wanted to go on so the leader was handed quite a soft lead. Down the back straight he slowed it down to a steady gallop with the rest following suit and happily steadying down. Gift Of Kings was in a smooth rhythm but was giving the leader around a 7 length head start.
Coming towards the end of the back straight the field was well bunched up. With the left handed home bend in front of them there was a small injection of pace as the leader was pressed on the outer. For the first time the tempo increased and entering the bend the two in front pressed on. This gave them a small break over the rest but nobody was yet to make a move, with all the jockeys happy to wait. There was still over 1/2 mile to run and Danny looked content to take the patient approach.
Swinging off the home bend and racing down towards the 3f marker the leaders attempted to kick. They did steal a march on the field and it was I Can’t Remember who held the advantage racing towards the far side. Danny just had to shake his mount up to get him to shift up a gear and Gift Of Kings snuck past a couple of rivals. Weaving his way through Danny was still not panicking and was allowing his mount to find his feet and shift through the gears.
Racing down to the 2f Gift Of Kings would need to make up 6-7 lengths if he was to challenge but he also had to task of finding a clear passage. The leader had made his move and committed so was trying to pour it on and testing the rest to catch up. Gift Of Kings was making some headway and weaving in and out of rivals who were weakening around him. Although making up ground he did run in snatches, quickening up then petering out fro a couple of strides. The deficit was almost halved but the time they reached 1 1/2f from home and now Danny was getting serious. After cutting through the field, Gift Of Kings just flattened out but after changing leads he could go again.
Heading into the final furlong the leader was being hard pressed but it was the closers who looked like the biggest danger. Back on an even keel, Gift Of Kings was starting to motor and down the rail Contrast was finishing well too. Smelling a win Danny only had a couple of lengths to make up in the final furlong but fellow closer Contrast was matching stride for stride. The leader was brave but Contrast joined 100 yards from home. Again Gift Of Kings just hit a couple of flat strides but when Danny went for one more run he got a great tune from his mount. Gift Of Kings quickened up to join and pass I Can’t Remember, leaving the final yards free for a run at Contrast. It was nip and tuck but Gift Of Kings was really getting up ahead of steam. There may have been a slight momentum shift but Contrast held the advantage with the winning post just yards away. In the dying strides of the race Gift Of Kings joined Contrast and the pair flashed past the post together. Crossing the line it wasn’t clear who had come out on top but the judge did not take long to Gift Of Kings as the winner.
This result was pleasing, especially after it came so close to the potential sale. After disappointing results it was great to repay owner Steve Parkin’s faith and it looks as though Gift Of Kings could go on from here. Now he has his head in front there is no reason why he can’t continue to improve. It looks as though he will get further too which could see the colt put a few runs together now and progress through the ranks.