Wide gate no barrier to Gariza

Argentinian four-year-old Gariza returned from a short let-up to record his maiden Kranji win in the $60,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m on Friday.

A two-time winner over 1200m in his country of origin where he was known as Grazias Spirit, the son of E Dubai showed his liking for the six furlongs had not worn off in Singapore with a superlative performance that speaks volumes about his sprinting prowess.

Jumping from the outermost alley (11), Gariza, who last ran fourth to Big Man in a similar Class 4 event over 1200m on June 4, was bustled up early by first-time partner Oscar Chavez to take up a forward spot outside leader North Sky (John Powell), albeit three wide.

Gariza (Oscar Chavez) knocks in his first Kranji win on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club

Chavez later said such a move was in his book, “beautiful”. The noted horseman was certainly not wrong as the deft manoeuvre paved the way to something even prettier two furlongs later as Gariza ($26) struck the front upon straightening, looking full of running despite the wide berth in transit.

In one fell swoop, the Al-Arabiya Stable-owned chestnut made a beeline for the winning post with the well-backed Soonbaby (Olivier Placais) and Lincoln’s Excuse (Matthew Kellady) struggling to keep up.

It was in the end left to backmarkers Dreamer Legend (Matthew Poon) and Run It Twice (Glen Boss) to test Gariza inside the concluding stages, but the race was already over as they made do with the minor placings.

Smokie Dreamer Legend punched in late to snare the runner-up spot, half-a-length away with Run It Twice third another head away. The winning time was 1min 10.96secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.

“He landed in a beautiful spot considering he jumped from barrier 11 and ended up third three wide,” said Chavez.

“He travelled as he wanted and I had so much horse left at the top of the straight.

“But he’s still a moody horse. His ears were twitching as he hit the front, but he will learn with more racing.”

Le Grange said Chavez had been sparing no effort with Gariza, and he was glad to see his hard graft pay dividends.

“A big thank you to Oscar as he has been riding this horse a lot and educating him at the barriers. If Oscar doesn’t ride him, it’s Eddie Boy, my track rider who rides him every day and a big thank you goes to him, too,” said the South African trainer.

“This horse can be a handful at the barriers and (Singapore Turf Club starters) Damien Kinninmont and John Pepe have also done a great job with him. As you can see, it’s a team effort.

“These Argentinian horses always come into the fold. They are hard-knocking horses, and even from the wide barrier, they show how tough they can be.

“It’s also good to train another winner for Mansoor Gandhi and the Al-Arabiya Stable.”