Kieswetter dreaming of Gold Cup glory with Rain

Craig Kieswetter is dreaming the next stage of the Echoes In Rain journey leads to an Ascot Gold Cup triumph as the former England international cricketer has eyes for only one trophy at Royal Ascot.

Kieswetter was named man of the match in the World Cup Final when England conquered the cricketing world at the 2010 T20 World Cup. But since crossing the boundary for the final time at the tender age of 27, he has gone on to play a major role in Barnane Stud and now stands on the brink of reaching the pinnacle of Flat racing when the standard bearer of his family’s racing operation lines up in Thursday’s main event.

Trained by Willie Mullins, Echoes In Rain has raced 23 times in a dual-purpose career that has seen her win nine times, striking at Grade One level twice – including on her most recent outing at the Punchestown Festival when she arguably produced a career best, romping to an imperious nine-and-a-half-length victory.

Her record could be even more impressive if not racing in the era of Honeysuckle, but it is somewhat fitting that the Barnane stalwart could provide her owners with their biggest triumph on the ultimate stage.

“She’s an incredible horse and all the credit has to go to Peter, Ross and Anna Doyle who purchased her for us and Willie and his team for the way they have looked after her,” said Kieswetter.

“She’s one of those horses that doesn’t come around too often and she has given us so much pleasure over the jumps and on the Flat for a good few years.

“As grateful as we are for the great times and the journey she has taken us on, at times it has been frustrating because she has come up against Honeysuckle. It’s been an amazing journey and it would be great to continue that journey on Thursday.”

Mullins is seeking his own slice of history and he attempts to become the first man to win both the Cheltenham and Ascot versions of the Gold Cup in the same year.

Vincent O’Brien is the only man to win both races, but it was not in the same calendar year – showing just how remarkable Mullins’ achievement would be.

The Closutton handler came close to Gold Cup glory 10 years ago, when Simenon was narrowly denied by the late Queen’s Estimate in the week’s premier staying contest.

Kieswetter continued: “Willie is happy with the mare and hopefully he can create a bit of history for himself and become the first trainer to win both Gold Cups in the same year – that would be one hell of an achievement.

“He’s a genius and he knows what his plan is. He is hungry to give the race a good crack and is sending a good team of horses for the week. It’s extremely exciting, the Gold Cup is the Gold Cup and we’re just hoping the mare gives a good account of herself and if she does, we will be happy with that.

“After chatting to Willie, he did mention a couple of options for her at the Royal meeting and some other Flat races throughout the season, but I think he must be quite chuffed with her and confident after her last performance.

“Willie isn’t going to just enter a horse for the sake of entering it, so he must be confident and that in turn gives us confidence.”

Barnane Stud broke their duck at the Royal meeting when the William Haggas-trained Candleford stormed to success in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes 12 months ago, a result that simply whetted Kieswetter’s appetite to return in search of further glory during one of the biggest weeks of the racing year.

Now, like their horses, the close-knit family operation is ready to make the step up to the highest level and – win, lose or draw – they are determined to enjoy the day to its full potential.

“Last year we had a nice result with Candleford in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes,” added the South African-born owner-breeder.

“Just to have a runner is great, but to have a winner is very special. It’s an incredible week of racing.

“The Gold Cup is steeped in history and tradition. The whole week of racing is amazing, but the Gold Cup is the pinnacle of the week and to have a runner the trainer is confident in is very exciting.

“We have the whole team over from Barnane and South Africa and we will be racing with a lot of friends, so it will be a fun day.

“If she wins the Gold Cup, I’m pretty sure we will open up the local pub to the whole of the town and drink them out of Guinness.”

A Gold Cup victory would make Echoes In Rain a valuable broodmare proposition for Barnane Stud with Kieswetter tentatively mooting they could decide to pull stumps on her racing career there and then in the Ascot winner’s enclosure if big-race success came her way.

There is, of course, plenty of water to cross through Swinley Bottom before a date with the breeding sheds is inked into the diary, but it appears Kieswetter’s mating plans are as aggressive as his exploits with cricket bat in hand as he suggests he would not be shy in pointing Echoes In Rain the way of Frankel amongst others.

He said: “If she does happen to do something special, she will undoubtedly be going to the best Flat stallion. It would make sense being a Gold Cup winner or placed mare, so she would be deserving of the full treatment and we certainly wouldn’t hold back on her.

“Frankel is most probably on the cards. He’s a superstar and his results are outstanding. But that is something we will sit down as a team and no doubt discuss the options. Although it is important we don’t get carried away and we need to get through Thursday first before we can sit and decide anything.

“The fact we are able to even have these dreams is what the sport is all about and we are grateful for.

“We’ve got a beautiful team, both over here and in South Africa, and what we want to do is breed top quality racehorses and that is what the goal is.”

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