Kok and Nunes hope 2016 Derby winner not Done yet

Trainer David Kok has every hope Well Done will be presented in a much better shape in the $300,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1800m) on Sunday.

Last year’s Emirates Singapore Derby winner has had two 2017 runs since returning from his Singapore Triple Crown series campaign which was cut short by a chip to his joint after the second Leg, the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m).

On both occasions, in the Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes (1400m) and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m), the Falkirk six-year-old could not quite reproduce that devastating turn of foot that saw him sweep seven wins in his heyday, including the Derby and the Group 1 Patron’s Bowl (1600m). He ran out of the placings at both runs.

Manoel Nunes has a good hunch about Well Done, picture Singapore Turf Club

Kok is aware the chestnut gelding might have taken a while to bounce back to his best post-surgery, but the latest signs had been rather encouraging.

“I think he needed the run at his two runs back, and he also drew 14 in both races. He has improved a lot since,” he said.

“The Chairman’s Trophy was always a race we had targeted for him. There is no other race for him, anyway.

“He had a gallop yesterday and I was happy with his condition. He’s definitely better than what he was at his second run.

“I think the surgery did put him back, but I think he’s not far from the real Well Done now.

“At set weights, it will be a difficult task to beat Quechua (his nemesis in the QEII Cup) again. People underestimate this horse, but from barrier No 1, he showed how good he was in the QEII Cup.”

The reins have again been handed to Manoel Nunes, his last-start partner who won on him once at four previous associations. The Brazilian three-time Singapore champion jockey then lost the ride after he was felled by kidney stones, giving way to Glen Boss (Patron’s Bowl) and Michael Rodd (Singapore Derby).

Nunes hopes he has been reunited with Jason Goh’s gun galloper at the right time.

“He’s very well. I galloped him over two laps on Saturday and he had his final gallop yesterday,” he said.

“He also trialled very well a few weeks ago (second to Viviano). He was supposed to trial last week, but David decided not to in the end and to just leave him happy.

“At his last start, the barrier 14 worked against him. I tried to ride him quiet at the back, but he pushed out at the home turn and was too wide.

“He got a bit tired in the end, but I still expected him to do more. But he’s happier this time, and is feeling really well.

“David gave him a freshen-up and he’s been very good since he was put back in work. Hopefully, from barrier No 7, I can ride him where he is happy somewhere in midfield, and he’s a horse who knows what to do.”

Kok said Well Done’s performance in the Chairman’s Trophy will give him the answer he needs as far as loftier targets down the road are concerned.

“The plan is to go for the usual races like the Kranji Mile, Raffles Cup and Singapore Gold Cup, but that run on Sunday will tell us where he is at,” said Kok.

While he charts this year’s plan for his stable banner, he is also in the process of unveiling Goh’s latest purchase, a new three-year-old by Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom – Heng Kingdom.

“Jason owns this new horse in partnership with the owner of Royal Sabah Turf Club,” said Kok.

“As he is by Animal Kingdom, he wanted to have the word ‘Kingdom’ in there and thought why not put ‘Heng” in front as in ‘Heng ah” – Lucky!

“I don’t think he’s 100% but it will be a good first run for him. On his pedigree, he is probably looking for more distance.

“But look, most of the horses in that race (Stepitup 2015 Stakes Restricted Maiden race over 1100m) are also fairly new. That Conatus G ran well at his first race and we don’t know how good this Super Denman is.

“Whatever he does, he will improve from that first run.”

Heng Kingdom went through two Kranji barrier trials where he showed some qualities and will also be ridden by Nunes.