Gold dreams still alive for Forever Young

Trainer Alvin Kuah Cheng Tee is still pressing on towards the Dester Singapore Gold Cup with Forever Young despite his latest defeats in the first two Legs of the Singapore Triple Crown series, including the Raffles Cup on Sunday.

Kuah had long held the belief the US-bred winner of the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) and Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1800m) can stay, even if he is still only three being a Northern Hemisphere-bred.

If there was one Leg which he dithered over, it was the first leg, the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m), first-up and coming back from the 1800m distance of the Chairman’s Trophy two months earlier.

Forever Young (Benny Woodworth) at his Singapore Guineas triumph in May, picture Singapore Turf Club

Kuah winged it in the end. After taking up his customary role of leader, the son of Run Away And Hide was, however, already a beaten horse upon straightening, eventually running eighth to Infantry.

It was not the performance Kuah was hoping for, but neither was he all that disappointed. He thought he probably needed the run, and besides, having Laughing Gravy on his girth right through might have softened Forever Young up.

Kuah was confident the 1800m trip of the Group 1 Raffles Cup would suit his charge better, but again, he came a cropper.

Even though he jumped from the widest barrier, Forever Young found the lead rather easily for regular partner Benny Woodworth, going on to enjoy an even cheaper run. Hopes rose in the Kuah camp when Forever Young pinched a break at the top of the straight, reminiscent of his winning run in the Guineas, but he soon compounded to run seventh to surprise winner Gilt Complex.

The easiest conclusion to jump to would be Kuah’s “Lion Heart”, as he calls him, did not stay, but the young Singaporean trainer is not deviating from his path.

“The track was too firm on that day. He actually ran a quicker time than in the Chairman’s Trophy,” said Kuah.

“He came back with a swollen right foreleg, but Dr Peter Briggs (Singapore Turf Club veterinary surgeon) has treated him and the swelling has come down already.

“He is still going for the Gold Cup as I still believe he can stay. The owner Mr Wong Chi Tat also told me that even if he is beaten in the Kranji Mile and Raffles Cup, he will still go for the Gold Cup.

“If Infantry runs, he will be the highest-rated runner on 109, which means Forever Young, who has 94 points, will get only around 52 to 53kgs.

“To me, running in a staying race is not so much about the distance, whether a horse can stay or not. To me, it’s more about the handicap.

“If you check the records for the Gold Cup, only Smart Bet has won with 59kgs in the last 15 years. Most had light weights.

“I told myself that if Forever Young gets more than 55kgs in the Gold Cup, I won’t run him.

“I will let his leg recover fully first, and then bring him back to work next week. There won’t be any special stamina exercise he will do, just keep him fit and ready for the big one.”

The $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup will be run on November 12, and will be for the last time run over 2200m as next year, it will be dropped to 2000m.