Koh hopes Oxbow Sun won't be under the yoke on Sunday
After finding the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup a little too rich, former Victorian Oxbow Sun tackles rivals who are more within his realm in the $60,000 Open Benchmark 67 race over 1400m on Sunday.
But the noted frontrunner will still face another major hurdle, this time represented by only one horse – unbeaten three-year-old Chopin’s Fantaisie
Despite all the respect trainer Desmond Koh has for Michael Clements’ promising galloper, he said the level of difficulty was obviously not as dire as in the Stewards’ Cup – a set weights event where he was up against the likes of Alibi and Infantry, the two winners of the three Legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.
Oxbow Sun (Benny Woodworth) at his first Kranji win on March 19, picture Singapore Turf Club
Still, he could not fault the way Oxbow Sun has come through his seventh spot in the Group 2 race as the $330 rank-outsider, and gave him a decent chance to at least finish in the money seven weeks later.
“He pulled up well after the Stewards’ Cup. Sunday’s race is obviously easier even if Chopin’s Fantaisie remains the horse to beat,” said Koh.
“He did his best by leading but it’s a Group 2 race run at set weights. On ratings alone (Oxbow Sun was then on 67 while the top-rated horse was Debt Collector on 110 points), he had no chance.
“But we tried our luck as you turn four only once. He led as is his normal pattern, Alibi stayed on his outside right through, and that probably took something out of him in the end.
“At the 300m he was still in front but once Alibi went past, he soon got tired and got beaten by around seven lengths.
“Like I said, there was nothing much more the horse or CC Wong (Chin Chuen) could have done at level weights. I was still happy with his run all things considered.”
Koh said that Oxbow Sun, who will have Wong back astride, has worked and galloped to his satisfaction leading up to his next assignment this Sunday.
“The horse is in good shape. He galloped very well the other day,” said Koh.
“The seven furlongs on the Short Course will suit him better.”
The Australian-bred had prior to his Group 2 run, won once over the same trip in Class 3 company, leading all the way for Benny Woodworth. In Australia where he was known as Oxbow, he won two races, and also over 1400m, when prepared by trainer Stephen Brown.
A son of Encosta De Lago, Oxbow Sun is among a big team of 17 “Sun” horses raced by Macau businessman Cheng Ting Kong put under Koh’s care. He shares the same sire as Cheng’s stable banner Order Of The Sun, the highest-rated of the lot.
Koh has four other horses – Million Round, Cavatina and Grand Paris while High Street is the EA1 in Race 5 - facing the starter on Sunday but he is not really holding his breath for any of them. He has no runners on Friday night.
“It’s another quiet weekend,” said Koh whose last winner was Mastermind on June 16, his only winner for that month to bring his midtable total up to 16.
“Competition is tough, but we try our best.”