By Michael Manley
Symon Wilde suggested this week that if Gold Medals could win another Grand Annual Steeplechase he would be regarded as a Legend of the Warrnambool May Carnival.
The trainer though is downplaying his stable star because in the view of the racing community, he’s already achieved legendary status through his longevity and performance.
If the Warrnambool Racing Club was going to build a statue of a local horse, Gold Medals would be first in line.
The 11-year-old will be back in action for the ninth time at the Warrnambool May carnival next week and for an eighth consecutive year. The only carnival he has missed since 2012 was when he ran in the South Australian Derby in 2013.
Surely, in terms of appearances, this is a record at the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival and for that matter any horse anywhere at any annual carnival.
Also, he’s not just turned up to run but in recent years he’s been one of the stars and the horse who has flown the local flag in the major jumps race.
Gold Medals is a great advertisement for the training skills of his Warrnambool based trainer and also for jumps racing.
Gold Medals first appeared at the ‘Bool 2012, his second start, where he contested the two-year-old event and finished seventh behind Murcielaga.
He also contested the 2015 Warrnambool Cup where he finished seventh.
For the past three years, Gold Medals and his sparring partner Zed Em, who he will renew his rivalry with next week, have been the mainstays of the feature jumps races.
Gold Medals won the 2018 Grand Annual Steeplechase, and has since finished second in the two subsequent editions which were behind Zed Em in 2019 and Ablaze last year.
He also won the 2018 Brierly Steeplechase and finished second in 2019.
Wilde admitted he was concerned that Gold Medals was struggling this campaign after two poor flat runs but a win in a jumps trial over 2800m at Warrnambool on April 23 gave the trainer’s confidence an added boost.
Wilde said they decided to be positive with him in the trial and attempt to win it.
“By design we wanted him to win the trial. We thought we’ve got to get him up and going. He hadn’t done a thing in his flat starts,” Wilde said.
“Dougie (Clayton Douglas) said he felt good. There was a sense of relief. He enjoyed being up there. What it showed was how much he loves to jump,” he said.
“He coasted home but it was a bit of an optical illusion though with other horses coasting around him as well but we saw what we wanted to see.”
Wilde said Douglas wanted Gold Medals to run in the Brierly Steeplechase on Tuesday but he didn’t think that was the best way to win another Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Wilde said he would accept Gold Medals for the Brierly Steeplechase and then make a decision closer to the race as to whether he would run.
“I’ll nominate but I don’t want to jeopardise him running in the Annual. I’d hate to see him finish second in the Grand Annual due to being a bit tired after running in the Brierly,” he said.
“Clayton thinks he can do it. If he was a younger horse, yes, but I don’t want to come out of the Annual thinking we might have cost him that by running in the Brierly.”
Wilde said once Gold Medals ran in the 2021 Grand Annual he would already turn his thoughts to running in the 2022 event which would be his swansong.
“It’s amazing what he’s done. He ran as a two-year-old over 1000 metres, he ran in a Warrnambool Cup,” Wilde said.
“He’s been an incredible horse. He’s not a champion but he’s so tough and he’s won almost $1 million. This will be his fourth run in the Grand Annual. That’s also something special.”
Wilde also pointed out that it would be Gold Medals tenth consecutive year of racing in May as he only missed the 2013 carnival due to running in the South Australian Derby.
Wilde will also run promising jumpers Elvison and Georgethefifth in the Brierly Steeplechase on Tuesday.
Wilde said he would also consider starting them in the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
He will also start rising jumps star Brittanicus in the Galleywood Hurdle on Wednesday.