Le Grange cannot fault his big Gold Cup team

Even though staying stalwart Quechua is not having a fourth crack at the Singapore Gold Cup, trainer Ricardo Le Grange will still be highly represented in the banner race.

Winner at his first attempt in 2014 when trained by Le Grange’s former boss Patrick Shaw, Quechua had two more tries in the next two years, but ran fifth on both occasions, to stablemate Cooptado in 2015 and to the Stephen Gray-trained Bahana last year.

The Argentinian-bred seven-year-old had been aimed at this year’s renewal of the $1.35 million Group 1 race over 2200m, but Le Grange eventually decided to abort these plans.

Dester Singapore Gold Cup contender Majestic Moments (Nooresh Juglall) has not found the line since April 24, 2016, picture Singapore Turf Club

“Quechua is resting. He is going for a spell,” he simply said.

Already a Group 1-winning trainer (pictured on top) at his first season with Quechua landing the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in June, Le Grange currently has five nominations in the $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m), who are, starting from the highest-rated, Majestic Moments (99), Perfect P (98), Emperor’s Banquet (91), Mighty Kenny (77) and Mighty Emperor (69).

The first four came out at the barrier trials on Thursday, with Le Grange clearly satisfied with that second-last tune-up before D-day.

In Trial No 4, Emperor’s Banquet (Barend Vorster) and Perfect P (Nooresh Juglall) ran third and sixth respectively while in Trial No 5, Majestic Moments (Vorster) won with Mighty Kenny (Juglall) fourth another 2 ½ lengths away.

“I’m very happy with all four. It was a nice hit-out, they will have a grass gallop next week, and all four will run in the Gold Cup,” said the South African conditioner.

“Obviously, Majestic Moments and Emperor’s Banquet trialled better, but Mighty Kenny still hit the line well. As for Perfect P, he is not a horse who shows much in his trials.”

Le Grange said he had yet to decide on the riding roster for the Gold Cup. Vorster for one could not fault either of his two rides in the barrier trials.

“Emperor’s Banquet had a good trial, especially as he’s not a 1000m horse and is quite an old horse now (8yo),” said the South African jockey.

“He’s feeling good within himself and that will make him nice, strong and fit for the big race.

“Majestic Moments felt good as well. At his last start (in the Group 1 Raffles Cup when eighth to Gilt Complex), he wasn’t quite himself, he was too switched off.

“He had the pacifiers again in the trial today. The idea is to switch him on, put more speed into him.”

One Le Grange customer who was definitely switched on at the trials was his exciting three-year-old Captain Jamie, who erased the memory of his last-start flop with a 8 ¾-length rout in Trial 2 under regular partner Juglall’s guidance.

The son of Captain Sonador fell by the wayside at his last outing on October 22 when he weakened to ninth place in a Class 4 race over 1600m won by Murrayfield.

“I can’t work it out what happened at his last run. Hopefully, it was a one-off,” said Le Grange.

“We’re back to the drawing board with him. Next week, there is a Class 4 race, we’ll see how he goes from there.”