Chinese Whisper learned a few lessons at yesterday's International Gold Cup at The Plains. The Middleburg-owned and -trained timber runner learned a bit about endurance in the $35,000 feature. He learned strategy with a come-from-behind trip. He learned a bit about racing luck by way of an inside position and perfect take-off spots to the final pair of fences.
And he learned all about stealth style.
With amateur jockey Chris Read in the irons, the 7-year-old son of Manila gunned to victory in the final stride of the 31/2-mile headliner at Great Meadow. Read said he knew the competition, and with the horse's trainer had set a strategy; the rest was up to Chinese Whisper.
"I knew who was likely to be on the front, and we wanted to just wait," said the Warrenton native. "He likes to hit a lick and wait. But I know that he always finds another gear at the end."
Indeed, Chinese Whisper loped along at the back of the field of seven early, settling quietly and allowing Virginia Gold Cup winner Joe At Six to head the group.
"My horse was having a perfect trip," said Joe At Six's owner-rider Michele Hunter, the Pennsylvania-based amateur jockey who stunned with victory in the four-mile Virginia Gold Cup over the same course this May. "Joe had fallen last week [at Shawan Downs in Hunt Valley, Md]. I mostly wanted him to have a safe trip, but he was running and jumping well."
Joe at Six was all alone on the lead with his nearest rival, Salmo, a length or two back in second for three of the 31/2 miles.
Back in seventh, Read was unconcerned. Through his rain-spotted goggles, wet from a post-time squall, Read saw the sneak attack strategy setting up as the field rounded the final bend. "I hoped to sneak by her in the end," said Read. "I stayed right behind her, hoping she wouldn't see me coming."
The plan worked perfectly. In the final 100 yards, Read swung to the outside as Chinese Whisper found his best stride -- just in time for the Kinross Farm of Zohar and Lisa Ben Dov to win their second straight International Cup. The official margin was a long head.
It was a Kinross day from the start: The farm's Noblest won the day's opener, a maiden hurdle, for leading rider Matt McCarron. McCarron also scored on the flat with Kinross's Jack's Own Time. The Maryland-based pro leads the nation with 20 jump wins headed into the final four weeks of the U.S. 'chase season.