Exceed Express back in the fast lane after three years

New Zealand jockey Craig Grylls was all smiles as he brought home his first Singapore double on Sunday.

Two races after he had to battle the elements – rain and mud - and land the spoils on roughie Heracles (read other report), Grylls was able to enjoy a smoother ride on bold frontrunner Exceed Express in the $60,000 Class 4 scamper over 1000m.

The son of Exceed And Excel has not greeted the judge since November 2011 when victorious for Corey Brown and his former handler Laurie Laxon in a Kranji Stakes C race over 1200m.

Exceed Express (Craig Grylls) scoots clear for an easy win first-up, picture Singapore Turf Club

At the time, the speedy three-year-old was one of Laxon’s up-and-comers, ringing up his fourth win in only seven runs, with a whole vista of opportunities at his doorstep.

But his next 16 starts – interspersed by many breaks - have all come to nought until Sunday, which was at his first start for Lee Freedman and Grylls.

Taking full advantage of his inside draw (two), Exceed Express ($34) pinged the gate to take the lead rather effortlessly. Once in front, Grylls was able to give him a breather before stoking him up for the last dash to the line.

Exceed Express actually bounded away inside the last 250m to put a big space of four lengths between him and the next best, Faithfully (Manoel Nunes) who won the battle for the minors in a four-way go with Bringer Of War (Shafiq Rizuan, 3rd, head), Elite Takes All (Barend Vorster, 4th, short head) and Auspicious Ace (Azhar Ismai, 5th, short head).

The winning time was a slick 58.25 seconds for the 1000m on Polytrack, only 0.07 second outside the Class record established by Stock Broker.

Grylls, who was at his eighth success in Singapore and recently had his licence renewed until the end of the year, was surprised how the Lai Voon Wai-owned galloper was so dominant on Sunday.

“I rode him in trackwork once and he pulled a lot. He pulled so hard again today,” said Grylls.

“Though he was fresh-up, he still had a kick left in him at the top of the straight. This is my first double here, may there be more winners.”

Freedman said the key to Exceed Express was to keep his runs well spaced out.

“He hasn’t won for three years. So you can say his wins have been well spaced out!” he joked.

“He has a few issues, but I told (assistant-trainer) Shane (Ellis) he is still going so well. He feels no pain right now.

“He’s been trialling very well. He leads at all his jumpouts and he did that so well today.”

With that fifth win, Exceed Express has now taken his stakes earnings past the $270,000 mark for his owner.