Though the son of Showcasing had never faced the starter at Kranji, he came here with a promising record of two seconds (880m and 1100m) from four starts as Oscar Eight in New Zealand, but perhaps the one result that stood out was his seventh place, less than four lengths off the winner Melody Belle in last January’s Karaka Million (1200m) – credentials which in the end proved to be well worth their weight of gold in the fourth Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series.
Among his 11 opponents, only five knew a little about the racing caper, with Auspicious Day (Glen Boss) boasting the most mileage courtesy of his three runs, including a second place to Whistling Win in the second Leg at his last start.
But from the way Mr Hanks (Vlad Duric) cruised up effortlessly from his fourth spot in transit to clear out towards a most comprehensive 4 ½-length win, the contrast in early racing prowess between him and his rivals could not be starker.
Second to Yaya Papaya in the third Leg on debut, the Ricardo Le Grange-trained Mokastar (Barend Vorster) did his best to pull the ground off the runaway winner inside the last furlong, but the die had been already cast, and he had to settle for another runner-up spot.
As for Leslie Khoo’s Auspicious Day, he continued his consistent form, making ground late to wind up in third place another 1 ½ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 10.04secs.
As its Hollywood-inspired name might give it away, Mr Hanks is raced by the Oscar Racing Stable (he actually had two previous horses by the name of Hanks at Kranji), but his handler was not Laurie Laxon, Cliff Brown or Bruce Marsh, but James Peters.
The English trainer was rapt he was able to saddle a first winner for the Singapore multiple-champion outfit headed by Mr Phua Chian Kin, hopeful it would mark the dawn of a successful partnership.
“The horse came here with strong form, including his Karaka Million race in New Zealand,” said Peters.
“He won very impressively today. He showed a good turn of foot when he let down, and found the line very strongly.
“He had a good gate (one) and Vlad (Duric) rode him very well. He looks the goods for the other two-year-old races (two Legs to go, including the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe over 1200m on July 7).
“I currently have three to four horses for the Oscar Racing Stable. It’s a great start and hopefully, I’ll have a few more.”
Duric said Mr Hanks was a quality juvenile who looked all set to have a bright future at Kranji as long as he keeps heading in the same direction.
“James had this race in mind for a while and he gave him the right prep,” said the leading Australian jockey.
“Once I pushed the button, he lengthened up like a smart horse. You could tell from the way he finished off that he was a very professional racehorse already.”