Forever Young Guineas-bound after 'Lion-hearted' effort

Alvin Kuah Cheng Tee’s daring gamble with Forever Young in the Lion City Cup may not have come off, but the stunningly good fourth has spurred the second-year trainer on further.

Bolstered by that run which he described as “fantastic” despite the torrid conditions in the early part of the Group 1 sprint over 1200m, Kuah is now eyeing off the third Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) on May 14 for the American-bred by Run Away And Hide.

A few people scoffed when the then 61-point gelding and two-time winner up to Class 4 grade was thrown in against the likes of Lim’s Cruiser, Emperor Max and Alibi, but even if Kuah did not get the last laugh, they won’t be so derisive this time.

Forever Young is proving to be better than most give him credit for, picture Singapore Turf Club

Ridden by Benny Woodworth for the first time, Forever Young was poleaxed barely 200m into the race as he was settling into his strides after a good start, when Emperor Max (Michael Rodd) shifted in too sharply as he went to dispute the lead with Wimbledon (Vlad Duric).

But he did well to recover from that incident before plugging away solidly for fourth in the rain-affected track.

Kuah had mixed feelings as he watched the Hong Kong-owned galloper silence his detractors with a run that exceeded expectations. Herein lay the problem, Kuah is convinced he could have even blown them away if not for the bad check at the 1000m mark.

“I said before the race not to underestimate this horse. I know he’s got a lion’s heart and he showed it again on Sunday against Singapore’s best sprinters, it was a fantastic run,” said the Singaporean conditioner.

“He got badly checked, lost five lengths and got beaten only over five lengths by a Lim’s Cruiser who had a more than perfect trip on the rails. He also got a little bumped by Hip Hip Hooray before the home turn.

“I’m not saying he would have won, but I’m quite sure he would have finished closer. What I really liked was the way he kept finding when he was entitled to get tired.

“One thing is for sure, he can run against the best. Even the handicapper thinks so as he gave him six points after that run (now on 67).

“That is why I’ve decided to run him in the Guineas next. It’s true I said he was more of a 1200m horse before, but the way he runs and the way he has improved tells me he may be ready for the mile.”

Forever Young actually had his first stab at Group glory in the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m), running seventh to Countofmontecristo, but only just over three lengths astern.

“He was wide throughout in the Sprint. He ducked in sharply under pressure at the top of the straight, but kept on well,” said Kuah.

“This horse does not stop improving and I would say he is two or three lengths better since that run.”