D-day for Deadline Day this Sunday

The legacy of former juvenile champion Onceuponatime already lives on at Kranji through progeny like winning daughters Moon Charm and Moonraker, but it’s a half-brother of his who will represent the family this weekend, Deadline Day.

The three-year-old by Rip Van Winkle is out of New Zealand mare Scarlet Runner, the same dam who foaled Onceuponatime nine years earlier.

Physically, the two siblings are no two peas in a pod. Onceuponatime was a flashy chestnut while Deadline Day is not as striking, but is still a well-balanced-looking bay.

Connections of the latest son of Scarlet Runner are obviously more concerned he would inherit some of the good genes of his famous half-brother down the road.

Deadline Day is raced by South African newcomer Green Street Stable and is trained by James Peters. He has trialled twice for two fair thirds at Kranji and will face the starter for the first time in Sunday’s $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1200m.

At both barrier trials, Deadline Day jumped fairly to stay in touch with the leaders before dropping back to third with jockey Olivier Placais not asking too much from his mount in the straight.

Expectations for a first launch have not been set high even if he has some big horseshoes to fill.

Contrary to his name, even Onceuponatime did not get off to a fairytale start (he ran third at his Kranji debut in a Restricted Maiden race on April 6, 2007), but he went on to win five races at Kranji, including two at Group 3 level, the Juvenile Championship (1200m) in 2007 and the Group 3 Singapore Guineas (1600m), which was then not the Group 1 race and third Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge it is today.

Though Onceuponatime, who was prepared by David Hill, did not win at the highest level, he held his own in feature races with several placings to his name, most notably, his remarkable flying third to Singapore legend Rocket Man in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) in 2009, which turned out to be his farewell race before he was retired to stud in New Zealand one year later.

“Mike Kneebone (one of New Zealand Bloodstock’s directors) was the one who approached me about a half-brother to Onceuponatime they wanted to place in Singapore,” said Gareth Pepper, Asian representative for Green Street Stable.

“Justin Vermaak, Green Street Bloodstock’s director liked him and bought him. We are very excited to have Justin in town; he flew in from Dubai this morning for a couple of weeks and he will see Deadline Day at his debut on Sunday.

“The horse has shown us a bit of potential in his trackwork, but 1200m might be on the short side for him. Being by Rip Van Winkle, the horse is bred to stay and I think we’ll see the best of him once he gets out to 1400m to a mile.”

Placais concurred with Pepper that Deadline Day had been well prepped up for his debut, but there was still some work to be done before he becomes the finished article.

“I’ve ridden him in his trackwork and he’s done a good job so far. He’s still green, but he does more or less what I ask him to do,” said the French jockey.

“I think he’s a nice horse, but for a first start, he may need the run. If he can finish in the first four or five, I’d be happy with that.”

Green Street is an emerging South African horse racing syndication group which came onto the Singapore scene late last year. Risky Rockefeller was the first horse (previous two-time winner with Steven Burridge) to fly their black and green colours at Kranji, though he has yet to score for Vermaak.

“Risky Rockefeller ran on well last Sunday, but the 1200m was too short. He is looking for more ground,” said Vermaak who came straight from the airport to be on hand at the Kranji barrier trials.

“We are really excited about racing horses in Singapore. Deadline Day will be our second runner, and we have exciting new babies coming in next month.”