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Adrenaline will be pumping during Gold Cup and Saucer

The horses in the 2017 Gold Cup and Saucer, top row, from left, Crombie A, Sapphire City, Arque Hanover, Shadow Place, Ys Lotus, Always At My Place, Do Over Hanover and Sports Lightning.
The horses in the 2017 Gold Cup and Saucer, top row, from left, Crombie A, Sapphire City, Arque Hanover, Shadow Place, Ys Lotus, Always At My Place, Do Over Hanover and Sports Lightning.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Always At My Place appears to be a layover in tonight's $60,000 Sobeys Gold Cup and Saucer final but Sapphire City's driver reminds us anything can happen in this race.

The prestigious competition lines up in the Race 14 finale at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park as the culmination of Old Home Week. Anthony MacDonald drives Sapphire City from Post 2 in a race that has eluded him after numerous appearances.

"I'm like a bad maiden," MacDonald said with a laugh. "I've had my opportunities in the Gold Cup, as the favourite one or two times and just got beat with Atta Boy Dan. I just feel really privileged and appreciate the opportunity to drive in the race."

Sapphire City was third in Trial 2 for trainer Ron Burke of Pennsylvania with Marc Campbell driving. The winner of $1.3 million shows first quarters in 26 and change, which plays into MacDonald's driving style.

"I don't think you have to be Jimmy The Great to figure out where Sapphire City is going to be sitting going around the first turn," MacDonald said. "He is going to come to play, same as I do every time I go on the track."

Always At My Place was dominant in Trial 1, winning in 1:51.1 over a sloppy track a week ago with Campbell in the bike.

"Marc Campbell's horse looks to me to be a layover but he drew the six-hole and real strange things happen to people when they draw outside on a half-mile track," MacDonald said. "It's a big race, everyone is going to have their adrenaline pumping. You know I'm going to be leaving out of there and I think there will be some horses in the middle of the gate leaving and see someone getting parked. If Marc gets himself stuck in some traffic trouble, I don't want to say that's great for Anthony, but it isn't good for Marc."

Campbell, who has Post 6 with Always At My Place, isn't as confident in his dominance as other horsepeople.

"People keep saying to me that I'm the best, but (Trial 2 winner) Ys Lotus is a great horse and anything can happen in a horse race," Campbell said. "It's not like someone is going to hand me the lead and say 'Go ahead, go get it.' They're all right there. It is going to be a race. The first turn will tell the tale. I think it is going to be pretty crazy. Everybody wants to win this race bad too, so it's not going to be a walk in the park."

Campbell respects the talent of Louis Philippe Roy, who drives Ys Lotus from Post 5, and expects a cool driver from the Quebec native, who will drive a horse sporting an unbeaten record in six starts on P.E.I.

"I don't think Louis is going to get crazy and be in a battle early," Campbell said. "If everything you wanted to happen could happen I'll be first up or second over behind Louis. Then Louis clears and we battle home. That would be the best race because I think they are the two best horses."

Campbell has won the race twice before with Burke trainees Escape The News in 2013 and Take It Back Terry in 2015.

"You still want to win it just as bad as you did the first time," he said. "The one thing is my nerves have gotten a lot better about the pressure of a big race like this."

Crombie A has rail control for trainer Rene Allard and driver Gary Chappell.

"Crombie A goes to front and Crombie A wins," Chappell said while pointing to Ys Lotus as the horse to beat. "That's the plan. What else am I supposed to say? But it's going to be hard to get off the rail."

The third part of the Allard entry is Post 7 starter and Governor's Plate winner Do Over Hanover for the local ownership group of Red Isle Racing of North Granville and Steven MacRae of Vernon Bridge, along with Allard Racing Inc., of Quebec. Jason Hughes will make his first start in the race behind the four-year-old son of Western Ideal.

"It would mean everything," Hughes said of a win tonight. "My family is there and my friends. Growing up around the Charlottetown Driving Park I've watched a lot of Gold Cup and Saucers and always wanted to win it."

Do Over Hanover was driven aggressively in his third-place finish in Trial 1, rolling a half in 54.3 while putting Always At My Place in behind him.

"Do Over Hanover has wicked gate speed but from Post 7 I don't know if I'll be able to use it," Hughes said. "But Post 7 is only where you start from. It is a real competitive field. . .

“Anthony will be leaving off the gate hard, but don't kid yourself about Crombie A leaving off the rail. If Chappell can get him off on the right foot, he could surprise them all."

NEED TO KNOW

Post 1

Horse – Crombie A

Driver – Gary Chappell

Trainer – Rene Allard

Ambassador – Laurissa Handren

Post 2

Horse – Sapphire City

Driver – Anthony MacDonald

Trainer – Ron Burke

Ambassador – Hailey Cole

Post 3

Horse – Arque Hanover

Driver – Marcus Miller

Trainer – Dylan Davis

Ambassador – Juli MacMillan

Post 4

Horse – Shadow Place

Driver – Gilles Barrieau

Trainer – Kyle Fellows

Ambassador – Katie Wight

Post 5

Horse – Ys Lotus

Driver – Louis Philippe Roy

Trainer – Rene Allard

Ambassador – Catherine MacCallum

Post 6

Horse – Always At My Place

Driver – Marc Campbell

Trainer – Ron Burke

Ambassador – Mikaella Taylor

Post 7

Horse – Do Over Hanover

Driver – Jason Hughes

Trainer – Rene Allard

Ambassador – Jillian Doucette

Post 8

Horse – Sports Lightning

Driver – Brett MacDonald

Trainer – Jamie Copley

Ambassador – Brooke Clarey

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