Trainer James Peters does not seem overly concerned by the wide gate likely favourite Mr Hanks has drawn in the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) on Friday night.
No doubt anything in the lower range would have had a warmer reception than 14, but the English trainer is treating the wide alley in the sixth and final Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series more as a kink which can be ironed out.
To the second-year trainer, Mr Hanks’ early gate speed and greater exposure to racing are two factors which can keep him out of trouble, especially in the early part when a field of 16 two-year-olds can go helter-skelter.
Mr Hanks (Vlad Duric) will take some beating in the Aushorse Golden Horseshoe on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club
The Showcasing two-year-old has only one run under the belt at Kranji – the fifth Leg of the series, the Inglis Ready2Race Stakes over 1200m on June 11, in which he scored a thumping 4 ½-length win.
But that professional demeanour throughout that first Kranji race did not just come naturally. With four starts in New Zealand including two seconds as well as a seventh place in the Karaka Million this year, Mr Hanks was like this PSLE kid sitting for a Primary 1 exam.
Peters always thought he was a bit of magnet for wide gates with the run of bad luck he had with Magnum - and Titanium on a few occasions - in feature races, but he sounded less downbeat this time.
“There are a lot of lightly-raced and unraced horses in that race. Mr Hanks’ better racing experience will put him in good stead for that race,” said Peters.
“We saw at his debut win he races fairly handy. The draw is not ideal but he can go forward and get into a position, he can relax which is a good thing.
“Vlad has had a bit of time with this horse and knows him well. I’m sure he’ll know what to do when the gates open.”
More importantly, the Oscar Racing Stable-owned galloper, the first Peters trains for the former champion outfit, has pulled up in great order since his win.
“He’s really well, he’s pulled up well. Hard to say by how much he has improved, but there is a bit of natural improvement in him for sure,” he said.
“He had a nice soft trial last week (June 27) and he seemed quite switched on. It’s a strong competitive field he will run in on Friday, as it usually is.
“There are quite a few good horses in it this time, like Ferocious, Be Bee and Ricardo’s (Le Grange) horses. They really have strong good form.
“But my horse is also well and I hope he can put in a good run for us.”
Peters said that he would wait for the conclusion of the Aushorse Golden Horseshoe before deciding if the next progression is the Group 3 Juvenile Championship, the second two-year-old feature on July 30 which will for the first time be stepped up from 1200m to 1400m.
He has other two-year-olds in his yard but he said they would not be running in the Juvenile Championship.
“I’ve got quite a few two-year-olds but they’re not ready yet. Mr Hanks was the most forward,” said Peters.
“I will not run them in the Juvenile as it’s hard for a two-year-old to run over 1400m first-up. They’ll be ready when they turn three.”