How Gold Trip Won the 2022 Melbourne Cup
Gold Trips life in racing began when he was sold for just €60,000 at the 2018 Arqana August Yearling Sale in Deauville, France. Gold Trip was purchased by Jean-Louis Bouchard who took up ownership of the Grandson of none other than Exceed and Excel.
Bouchard would stable Gold Trip with prominent French trainer Fabrice Chappet who would oversee the development of the horse up until 2021.
Gold Trip - An Emerging French Racing Talent
Gold Trip made his racing debut on the 24th October 2019 when he lined up against 12 other runners at Deauville racecourse and went on to finish second, narrowly missing out on a debut win when going down by a head.
On that performance Gold Trip was being touted as an emerging talent and would return to the track just three weeks later when a $2.90 favourite in a 2yo race. A sub par performance would see him finish 5th over 4 lengths off the eventual winner which would lead Chappet to spelling the 2 year old.
Believing that a line could be drawn through that performance Chappet would send Gold Trip back to the track and at odds of $22 he would finish an impressive 2nd behind Port Guillaume.
It would be this return to form that would see the French trainer step his runner up in trip slightly to 1600m and it would be his very next start where he would salute for Chappet and his owner Jean-Louis Bouchard in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe in the June of 2020.
His debut win would begin Gold Trips trajectory towards the highest level with a number of Group One contests soon to be lined up including a crack at the biggest French race of all, the Group One Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe.
French Group Ones and The Arc
Having now registered a strong win at Group 2 level Chappet and Bouchard were looking at testing there 60k purchase at the highest level.
Two subsequent starts at Group One level would see Gold Trip finish 11 of 16 at Chantilly and 3rd of 10 at Longchamp however it would be his third start at the top grade in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe that would be the focus.
It would be Gold Trips biggest test to date with some of the biggest talent from the UK, US and Germany competing in Frances most prestigious race. With the likes of super horses Enable and Stradivarius in the field it would be a true test of where Gold Trip was in terms of his racing talent.
Despite finishing fourth Gold Trip would show an impressive turn of foot when entering the home straight which would see him challenge for the lead at one stage. Peaking in the run meant that the he would drop back in to fourth but he would beat home race favourite Enable and Stradivarius with ease.
Gold Trip would go on to race two more times for Chappet and Bouchard where he placed in the Prix Ganay and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at Group One level. This would peak the interest of a number of parties which included Australian Bloodstock.
Australian Bloodstock Purchase and a trip Down Under
Having challenged at the highest level in France Australian Bloodstock came knocking on the door of owner Jean Bouchard and tabled an offer in the region of a reported $2.3m AUD. Having purchased Gold Trip as a yearling for just €60,000 and winning over 10 times that in prize money Bouchard decided to sell to the syndicating group.
At this point Gold Trip had only won one in his first ten starts and placed in 5 of them. The price tag looked a significant one for the horse however Australian Bloodstock believed he had all the makings of a solid distance horse who could compete for the riches Australian Racing had to offer.
Gold Trip would soon be moved to the control of Victorian based trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace with the now 4 year old arriving at Werribee Quarantine centre at the start of the 2021 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
After purchasing Gold Trip at a hefty price, Australian Bloodstock straight away made plans to tackle Australia’s biggest Group Ones. The immediate goal was a tilt at Melbourne’s premier weight for age contest. The $5m W.S Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
Lame decisions and Cox Plate Controversy
Having arrived in Australia as a 2021 Cox Plate favourite and also being touted as a strong Melbourne Cup contender there was a lot of interest around Gold Trip and was backed into a strong market position in nearly all the big spring races. So what happened next was a complete surprise to everybody.
Having competed on a regular basis in France up until he was imported to Australia it was expected that given the seamless transition between stables that Gold trip would be ready to roll. However Racing Victoria stewards and vets flagged their concerns around an unnatural running style created by lameness.
This led to the shock decision to scratch Gold Trip on the eve of the Cox Plate after a number of veterinary reviews.
The issue stemmed from the unnatural running style. Maher, Eustace and connections argued that this was the way he normally ran with co-founder of Australian Bloodstock Luke Murell believing the stallion was being penalised for being born with how he walks.
Racing Victoria Vets had Gold Trip assessed by six different Vets all of which found that the running style was created by lameness and he was therefore banned from competing in Melbourne until he could prove that the lameness was no longer present.
Maher and Eustace argued that their recent stable acquisition was fit and ready to race however the RV decision stood. Without changing the way Gold Trip actually walked the co-trainers would have to look elsewhere to race the import.
How to prove fitness and racing abroad
The decision to ban Gold Trip from racing in Melbourne and subsequently stop his owners from recouping any of their $2.3m investment incensed Murrell who instantly began talking up opportunities to race in Sydney as well as upping sticks all together and head overseas with Hong Kong and Dubai touted.
Gold Trip wasn’t an isolated case of Racing Victoria vets being overly cautious however with Peter Moody trained import Nickajack Cave being banned from racing in the state in the Autumn before relocating to Sydney and going on to race in Sydney where he would finish well behind Sir Dragonet in the Tancred Stakes.
Having seen the blueprint laid by Nickajack Cave and Moody, rather than head overseas they decided to focus on a Sydney campaign that could prove Gold Trips fitness and demonstrate his fitness in the Harbour City.
A number of complications would stop Gold Trip from joining the Autumn Carnival action and it wouldn’t be until July of 2022 where the French import would face the starter in the Listed Winter Challenge Stakes at Randwick.
So on 30 July 2022, a total of 391 days after last seeing any competitive racing action, Gold Trip would step back out onto the track in Sydney and finish third in the Listed Winter Challenge Stakes.
Under the ride of Jason Collett, Gold Trip went round without drama proving he was able to compete in Australia and after he was cleared by Vets to race in Victoria it was all systems go to get the French import back down to Melbourne with a plan to make up for lost time.
Spring Carnival Round 2 In 2022
Making up for lost time Maher and Eustace would chuck Gold Trip straight into the Spring action where he was nominated for the MRC Foundations Cup at Caulfield. Having only one race in 391 days it was a great tune up to go on and contest 4 Group ones including the big three from the Spring Carnival Calendar.
Next step on the way to Melbourne Cup triumph would be his biggest rise in grade to date where the French import would tackle the Group One Turnbull Stakes. In a tight affair won by Smokin Romans, Gold Trip would be able to showcase that impressive turn of foot and finish within two lengths of the leader.
With fitness building with every start Gold Trip kept stepping up in grade and over 2400m tackled the Caulfield Cup. He was all be named the winner in the final straight before Durston came flying from the pack to pip Gold Trip by 0.2l.
This was his biggest result to date in Australia. The extra distance looked to be suited and he looked to be improving physically with each run.
His next challenge would be the time honoured W.S. Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. Godolphin trained Anamoe was having a Spring for the ages having already rattled off three Group One titles however there were still signs Gold Trip was on the right track for victory on the first Tuesday of November.
The stable had tried blinkers for the first time, the tight Moonee Valley track didn’t seem to suit and he got too far back in the field to affect the result. Despite these three issues Gold Trip still showed something with the French import rattling home with just hands and heels riding under UK Jockey Jamie Spencer.
Gold Trip wins the 2022 Melbourne Cup
It was quite polarising when it came to the Melbourne Cup in 2022 as a lot of tipsters like the form of Gold Trip and the way he had finished in his last few races. With conditions to suit could he get home on top?
The flip side argument was that the horse had 1 career win to his name. He hadn’t been racing for over a year between campaigns and didn’t look fit enough to win. Given his long build up to the race people were happy to let him slide in favour of other local and international runners.
Of course we know what happened in the end with the bigger track, extra distance and full fitness allowing Gold Trip to win the Melbourne Cup for Maher, Eustace and Australian Bloodstock connections. But boy did they have to work for it.
Gold Trip, an original $60k purchase had to go through the doubting, the false injury claims, real injury complications, racing red tape, a trial race in another state as well as 391 days away from racing to win the 2022 Melbourne Cup.
Talk about going round the houses to get something done.