The 1972 Benson and Hedges Gold Cup
LET US REMEMBER
THE fifth renewal of the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup created no less a stir than it had in the five previous years.
It all started on nomination day -- December 4. Twenty of the top performers of the local turf were entered.
The official handicaps released on the morning of December 11 were as follows:-
Montes Stitch 140 Sarnia Conita 105
Hillsdown 135 Sherpa 104
Blusterous 133 All Relic 103
Polka Dotty 130 Klarimosa 102
Calejucam 129 Paddy's Doll 102
Common Market 129 Black Bullet 99
Miss Lou 123 Gabriela 98
Fearless Princess 117 Pops Gem 97
Star Dancer 109 Regal Bloom 95
Zareba 107 Out Yonder 88
It had not been the first time in the history of the race that the top weighted horse was being asked to take the maximum allowed by the Rules of Racing. In the inaugural race the honour had fallen to the mighty None Such, but he could fare no better than 11th of the 16 starters although he was installed the favourite, and in 1970 Helio Bird had the distinction, but she too failed and finished last but one of 12.
What then was to be the fate of the illustrious Montes Stitch who boasted a string of previous victories, his last three in succession and going from strength to strength with each succeeding outing? Could he, a horse known to be a dyed-in-the wool stayer, muster the speed to be in striking distance of his fleet-footed rivals when the crucial last quarter was to be run? Could he succeed under his welter impost where None Such and Helio Bird had failed? Could he possibly even place? These were the burning questions.
And the answer seemed all the more difficult to come by when on declaration day only two (Hillsdown and Regal Bloom) backed out, leaving 18 starters for the first time. Montes Stitch had drawn post position two with the 'flyers' all outside of him and certain to shut him out within the first 100 yards.
To make matters apparently even worse, the stable had elected to give Donald Andrade, their number one heavy jock, the mount on the speedy Blusterous, while Montes' partner was Glenford Walker, whose services had been sparsely used all season and who was certainly not in demand.
But as usual, the Gold Cup would be a real thriller every inch of the 1680 yards.
At the off another stable companion, Polka Dotty, was early on the headlines, hotly pursued by Calejucam and Gabriela. She shook them off after two furlongs and established a clear lead. Not far behind were other speedballs Sherpa, Black Bullet, Sarnia Conita, Blusterous et al. Montes Stitch was among the back benchers.
Polka Dotty led into the straight and into the final furlong. Then she began to shorten, and a wall of horses swiftly closed on her. Then within 100 yards Zareba pointed, and for a moment it seemed all over. But Fearless Princess was soon on the scene to challenge.
With the winning post apparently moving to greet them, only one of the commentators picked up the "big bay" coming with a devastating run on the outside, overhauling the leaders with lightning speed. As the name of Montes Stitch resounded through the track loudspeakers, the two radio commentators who were still yelling their heads off for Zareba and Fearless Princess heard the mighty roar from the huge crowd and caught sight of the colossus just as he held off Fearless Princess by a neck, and "a bolt from the blue" named Pops Gem ran through to take 4th place with Miss Lou 5th, All Relic 6th, Calejucam 7th and pace-maker Polka Dotty 8th - less than four lengths separating all 8 of them.
"Monte" went off at 10 to 1 (one stone of weight for each point in the betting).