Curvature fends off late assaults to score first-up

Progressive galloper Curvature’s upward spiral to the top showed no signs of letting up after he posted a fourth win on Sunday.

A second-up winner in Class 4 Premier company (1200m) back in March, the Snitzel four-year-old was successful in a Class 2 race over 1400m at his seventh outing this time, the $100,000 Hello Dubai Stakes.

At his last assignment, he even took a stab at Group glory in the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1400m), coming out with plenty of merit after testing eventual winner Elite Invincible all the way to the line before getting beaten a neck. 

Curvature (Craig Grylls) holds off Absolute Miracle (Olivier Placais) to score in Race 9, picture Singapore Turf Club

Curvature did not advance to the next two Legs, though, the Group 1 Charity Bowl (1600m) and Sunday’s Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m) with trainer Lee Freedman of the opinion they were too far for the China Horse Club-owned galloper.

A nice freshen-up of 35 days and a victorious comeback in Sunday’s 1400m event certainly rewarded the astute decision.

Senior track rider Reece Goodwin was on hand to lead in Freedman’s second leg of a double after Turf Princess opened proceedings in Race 1, the $20,000 Hello Moscow Stakes, an Open Maiden race over 1400m for eventual outright jockeys’ challenge winner Olivier Placais (five wins).

That 31st success – which moves Freedman up to third place on the log, three winners behind Shane Baertschiger – was, however, tinged with sadness. One race earlier, nine-time Singapore champion trainer Laurie Laxon’s mare Aotearoa broke down after finishing down the field in the Singapore Derby, having unfortunately fractured her off-hind pastern and was humanely euthanised.

“It’s good Curvature won after what unfortunately happened to Aotearoa earlier,” said a sombre Goodwin.

“This horse (Curvature) has put together a good record since he’s been here. We freshened him up after his last run.

“He didn’t have an easy run, but he did a good job under the circumstances.”

Normally an on-pace runner, Curvature was caught a little off-guard by the early mad rush from Solaris Spectrum (Matthew Kellady), Kratos (Saifudin Ismail) and Target (Glen Boss), the latter making a line of three.

The $8 odds-on favourite still followed within reasonable distance from the trio, before passing the weakening Solaris Spectrum at the 600m and squeezing through for a run between Kirks Ryker (Krisna Thangamani) and Target, the meat in the sandwich, at the point of the turn.

The tiring Target was paddling at the 300m while a more resilient Kirks Ryker tried to get into a good scrap with Curvature, but well ridden by Craig Grylls, the latter shook him off - but was not out of the woods yet with more swoopers running on inside the last furlong.

Long held up for a run, Absolute Miracle (Olivier Placais) was ducking and weaving around horses as he came rattling with a stinging challenge while Robin Hood (Nooresh Juglall) was also poking his head in out wide.

Curvature, who had only 53.5kgs on his back, seemed to be going up on the one spot, but mustering his last drops of petrol, he was able to hit the line with half-a-length to spare from a luckless Absolute Miracle while Robin Hood ran third another short head away. The winning time was a smart 1min 21.86secs for the 1400m on the Long Course.

Never out of the placings at his previous six starts, Curvature was taking his handy record to four wins, one second and two thirds for stakes earnings now edging closer to the $290,000 mark.

Grylls, who has been his exclusive partner from the outset, was full of praise for his latest effort.

“I’ve had a lot of luck with this horse and it’s great to get another win,” said the Kiwi hoop.

“He’s a good honest horse and he scored a tough strong win today. It’s been six weeks since his last run, and the boys have done a good job to get him fit again.”