The connections of newly-minted Gosford Gold Cup winner Oriental Lady could be the subject of a re-handicap for Saturday week’s The Metropolitan after the mare was finally awarded her first stakes race amid the cobalt saga.
Stewards stripped the race from the Sam Kavanagh-trained Midsummer Sun when handing down their penalties in the long affair on Monday, promoting Oriental Lady as the winner.
Her trainer Kris Lees is considering whether to tackle The Metropolitan after probably skipping this Saturday’s Colin Stephen Quality.
And Racing NSW handicappers have flagged the possibility of raising the six-year-old’s handicap from 52kg to factor in the Gosford Gold Cup win.
It could prove a huge fillip for the Australian Bloodstock-owned mare, which is trying for a spot in the $750,000 group 1 staying feature.
Oriental Lady, part-owned by Australian cricketer David Warner, ran fourth in last Friday’s Newcastle Cup and is 59th in the ballot order.
“We have decided to leave her where she is in the ratings because she has had eight starts since the Gosford Cup without winning and her form is well exposed,” said Racing NSW’s chief handicapper Damien Hay.
“She went from a [benchmark] 86 horse to 92 when she ran second at Gosford and would have obviously gone higher if she won. We are comfortable she is at the right mark.
“However, if she was to [run in the Colin Stephen] and win on Saturday we would look at her weight in The Metropolitan and in considering the penalty would take into account the two wins she would have had since the weights were released.
“It might entitle her to a bigger penalty but it would depend on a lot of factors, including the strength of any win on Saturday.”
Racing NSW will now redistribute the Gosford Gold Cup prizemoney, which carried a $90,000 winner’s purse.
The result has also added value to Oriental Lady’s pedigree, which includes black type success.
“That win is now worth quite a bit of money to us,” Australian Bloodstock director Jamie Lovett said. “We have discussed running her in The Metropolitan and, to be fair, she will get in light anyway, but there are races like the Cranbourne Cup we are we looking at too.”
Among the hefty penalties handed down over the saga, triggered by Midsummer Sun’s caffeine and cobalt positive after the Gosford Gold Cup, included a nine years and three month disqualification to Kavanagh and a six-year ban for veterinarian Tom Brennan.
Both are likely to appeal the sanctions.
The NSW vet board has refrained from launching an investigation into Brennan, who is also at the centre of claims he promoted a bottle labelled “vitamin complex”, later found to have high concentrations of cobalt, to under-fire Flemington trainers Mark Kavanagh, Sam’s father, and Danny O’Brien.
Brennan, who stood himself down from providing services to racehorses in Victoria last month, denies knowing the exact contents of the “vitamin complex” bottle. He is also understood to have ceased practising in NSW.
“The main thing we will be doing is maintaining contact with Racing NSW,” said John Baguley, the Veterinary Practitioners Board of NSW registrar.
“[Any appeal] will be one variable we will have to consider and the other is to continue as per the normal complaints process from another body and then we examine the findings to see if there is a breach of our legislation.”
with Chris Roots
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