Having finished second and first on just two starts last year as a juvenile, Gold Stone looked set for a big year in 2018. There has been flashes of form but the winners enclosure has eluded the filly. She made amends for all of that with a stunning turn of foot, coming from last to first and taking the 5f Betway Sprint Handicap at Lingfield.
With just 2 runs to her name coming into the new season, Gold Stone had to start in Novice company. Her seasonal return was full of promising, finishing fourth in a very good race. When she followed that up with a 2nd on handicap debut it seemed as though wins would soon be following. That never materialised and the resulting three runs were well below par. After her run at Beverley, Kevin was convinced something must be holding her back as her form was not matching her work.
Small wind operations are very common and Gold Stone had one done after a check resulted in an issue being found. Now down to 69, Kevin was confident that she could quickly improve from that now the issue was sorted. The only problem was that after recovery the races would be on the AW and options were a little limited. She had already proved that she handled the artificial surface so there were no fears there but it was a waiting game for the correct race.
Lingfield is a good trip from Hambleton Lodge but with good prize money on offer it seemed the best option as Kevin sent two runners on the long journey. The race attracted 10 runners and it was a real mix of ages. With her recent wind op Gold Stone probably was the one in the field who was least exposed and likely improver. With the talented young Thomas Greatrex booked for the ride, Gold Stone was getting 5lb taken off although the pair were stuck with the worst draw, 10 of 10.
The filly jumped well from the stalls but there were some real trail blazers in the field. King Crimson was away quickly and set a furious gallop immediately, taking along those around him. The pace was break neck and as Thomas tracked over from his draw, Gold Stone found herself towards the rear. The field blasted through the first furlong and Stone found just one behind her and already struggled to go the early gallop. They start entering a bend so after completing the first furlong the field entered the back straight for just another furlong.
It was a crazy pace being set up front and this had the field well strung out. Thomas was already niggling away, trying to keep tabs with the rest of the field as they headed towards the home bend. King Crimson was not holding back and already had them moving into the second half of the race. By the time Gold Stone hit the bend the leader was almost halfway round.
Swinging off the bend the leader entered the home straight and kicked for home. It became clear that the pace was going to take its toll now as King Crimson couldn’t shake off those in pursuit. Thomas was low in the saddle as his filly straightened up for home and now he was getting a response. Although still well off the lead, Gold Stone was beginning to shift through the gears and did make up a bit of ground.
With 1 1/2f to run the lead had yet to change hands but it was obviously coming and those coming from off the pace were looking the most dangerous. Staying out of trouble, Thomas had decided to try and slingshot around the field and set his route down the centre of the track. Angel Of The South was the one who was making eye catching headway as those in front began to stall. Gold Stone was eyeing that rival but had about 3 lengths to find on that and even more to the front. That being said she was now starting to really pick up but it looked as though the task just might be too much to ask.
Entering the final King Crimson folded as Meerpat took the lead along the rail. Although there was just 200 yards to run that lead looked in danger with Angel Of The South still rattling home. Gold Stone was hitting top gear but the deficit was still looking impossible to overturn. They raced passed the 1/2f marker and now Angel Of The South snatched the lead and dived for the line. Thomas was asking for everything from his filly and Gold Stone was responding. Gold Stone was finding more and more and now was really flying home down the outside. With just 75 yards to run she still had 3 lengths to find but was full of momentum. Every stride taken was eating into the lead and as the post loomed Gold Stone was within inches of the lead. With one fell swoop she passed all of them and grabbed the lead in the dying strides, taking the win by a neck.
It was a very impressive performance from Gold Stone who was earning her second career win. She looked a filly who was well handicapped but there was plenty going against her here. Although a wind op was going to help sometimes the recovery and time between races can take its toll. She was also given the worst draw to overcome. Obviously the race was run to suit those held up but Gold Stone had so much ground to make up and did so very impressively. She will definitely come on for the run so this could be a precursor to more success. All will depend on what the handicapper does but she may well stay on the AW for the meantime and try to pick up some more wins, which certainly looks well within her grasp.