The JBBA Moonbeam Vase was not quite in the picture as the next assignment after Keep Spinning returned to winning ways at his last start, but it didn’t take long for the David Hill team to be lured by its appeal.
It was the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1800m which was the main race bandied around by Hill hot off that impressive demonstration in a Kranji Stakes C race over 2200m on April 2, but his daughter and assistant-trainer Samantha said the Group 3 JBBA Moonbeam Vase over 1800m has since popped up as the ideal “stepping stone” in the interim.
“Dad mentioned the QEII Cup, but it’s run on June 4 and to get there, he needs to go up in ratings anyway,” said Sam Hill.
Keep Spinning (Manoel Nunes) steals a march on rivals at last start, picture Singapore Turf Club
“The Moonbeam Vase was a nice race for him to run in. Whether he will win or not, we will see.
“The weight is not in his favour as it’s a condition race with very special conditions. His rating went from 61 to 68 after his win, but with a rating of 68, he gets 54.5kgs while a horse like Mr Spielberg, who is on 95 gets only 54kgs, but that’s because he hasn’t won at his last five starts.
“That’s the way the handicap has been worked out, but it’s still a good stepping stone leading up to the QEII Cup.”
Hill said the QEII Cup’s new distance of 1800m, which is the trip reduced from 2000m for the first time this year, is still not Keep Spinning’s best distance. The race which they have pencilled in further down the road, goes even further - and is the Holy Grail itself.
“He is a Gold Cup horse. Last year, he couldn’t make the cut after they raised the minimum rating to 71, let’s hope he picks up enough points this year,” said Hill.
“He’s a real stayer, but there aren’t that many 2200m races around. The El Dorado Classic (October 22) and the Singapore Gold Cup (November 12) are realistically the two main races we will set him for later in the year.
“He has pulled up good after his last win. It was a very nice win and he proved on that day he doesn’t have to be ridden at the back.”
The Keeper five-year-old began a searching run midrace when jockey Manoel Nunes sensed the slowed-up pace might get him locked away on the rails. Keep Spinning, who was third-up from a four-month spell kept wheeling away to go and score with just under four lengths to spare from Special Force.
However, Nunes won’t be aboard this time as he is committed to Infantry, probably one of the leading fancies. Hill’s apprentice jockey, Singapore champion Wong Chin Chuen takes over in the Moonbeam Vase.
“CC knows him well and has won once on him. He was the obvious choice to ride him,” said Hill.
Amazingly, Keep Spinning has drawn barrier No 1 for the third time in a row. While it is not always an asset in middle-distance races, it is not to be sneezed at, especially for connections who reckon their horse is better off racing in a handier spot.