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Amazing Paints San Sebastián Red

Fri 16 August 2019

Well that was a good day at the office! After weeks of planning and build up, Amazing Red delivered the most wonderful result for La Grange Stables when skipping clear of his rivals to win the Listed Copa De Oro at San Sebastian racecourse in the Basque region of northern Spain yesterday evening. It was a much deserved first Listed success for the horse - at six years of age - and was just reward for his loyal owner Mr Ronnie Arculli, whose willingness to keep his older horses in training and campaign them sportingly around the world is to be cherished.

The triumph also added another laurel to the glittering international CV of Ed Dunlop, featuring as it does major landmarks in England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and now Spain. The trainer’s passion for international racing, and determination to conquer new frontiers, remains undimmed.

After declarations came through earlier in the week we discovered that Amazing Red was drawn in stall six of the 11 strong field. This favourable berth allowed us various options from a tactical perspective, with the decision taken to place an emphasis on gaining a more forward position than is usually the case. Although Red is typically ridden patiently, the tight bends and helter skelter run into the home straight suggested it would be imperative not to be too far back - and those with local knowledge concurred. And so it was left to Jose Luis Martinez, the veteran former Champion Jockey and winner of the Copa as far back as 1995 on Madrileno, to deliver the goods on the day.

Breaking alertly, Amazing Red was quickly able to find a position disputing third place on the rail alongside last year’s winner Cnicht, the pair sitting about  four or five lengths off the pacesetting Atty Persse. The positions were generally maintained throughout much of the race behind the leader, although the formerly Roger Charlton-trained son of Frankel went on to stretch his lead down the back stretch. However, by the time they swung for home the field were bunching up on his tail and his lead was probably only being maintained on sufferance.

Tuvalu was the first to range up on the outside of Atty Persse, with Amazing Red just beginning to engage in the heat of the battle as they passed the 500m mark. Just inside the 400m pole we had brief heart palpitations as Jose Luis spied a gap between Atty Persse and Tuvalu that duly closed, but as the leader tired and rolled to his left a yawning gap appeared on the far side rail. Our jockey quickly manoeuvred Amazing Red to the inside of Atty Persse and his mount shot through the gap and went on to win in highly impressive fashion by two and a half lengths. Last year’s winner Cnicht stayed on for second, ahead of Atty Persse who bravely maintained his gallop all the way to the line, with Tuvalu having to settle for fourth.

The scenes in the aftermath were quite something, and hopefully the picture gallery attached to this piece will help to convey some of the extraordinary atmosphere. We were perhaps caught out by just what a major event the Copa De Oro is in the grand scheme of Spanish racing; it is the most prestigious race in the calendar and it is an exceptional honour to add it to the trophy cabinet.      

A lot of people need to be thanked for their part in this emotional victory. First of all Amazing Red himself, whose courage and longevity have been thoroughly deserving of a marquee success, and his owner Ronnie Arculli, for his continued loyalty and commitment to the stable. We must also extend our thanks to Sophie Buckley and her team at Culworth Grounds, who took in Amazing Red for a break from racing after his disappointing run at Newmarket in June, and delivered him back to us in the form of his life (she performed the same trick with Red Verdon earlier in the year). The continued hard work of our team at home must not be overlooked, as this horse has received extraordinary care and attention over many years - as cannot the contribution of Mrs Dunlop, who is Amazing Red’s regular partner on the gallops and has helped fine tune him for this assignment. Also the lads who took Amazing Red out to Spain, Scott and Tom, did such a fine job in ensuring that Amazing Red took the long journey in his stride, and helped prepare him in the days leading up to the race.

Finally, we must put on record the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to Nick Higgins, who was our local contact on the ground and did so much to keep us informed of developments in the days and weeks leading up to the race, was an invaluable source of local information and even booked the winning rider!

It was a thrilling adventure and a sweet victory, one to cherish and savour.


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