The Stephen Gray-trained Heng Kingdom became the first progeny of Kentucky Derby winner and Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom to score at Kranji on Sunday.
Retired to Arrowfield Stud in Australia in 2013, Animal Kingdom had his first foals on the ground in 2016, with exciting two-year-olds Platinum and Earth Angel among his best advertisements.
One Singapore owner who was appealed by the relatively new sire is Singapore Derby-winning owner Jason Goh, who is never one to baulk at untested bloodlines.
Heng Kingdom (Glen Boss) digs deep to defeat Auspicious Day (Wong Chin Chuen, obscured) in Race 2, picture Singapore Turf Club
“I wanted to try a new sire and I saw this two-year-old by Animal Kingdom at the Inglis Ready-to-Run Sale in 2016,” said Goh who is better-known for racing Singapore Derby winner Well Done as well as New Year Cup winner Speedy Dragon.
“I liked the way he breezed up and paid A$72,000 for him. I shared him with the Royal Sabah Turf Club chairman (Mr Peter Chin) and called him Heng as it means luck in Chinese.
“I’m very happy he won today as I thought he had a good chance and I’m very happy he becomes the first Animal Kingdom to win here.”’
The milestone of sorts will also be a confidence booster for Goh ahead of the David Kok-trained Well Done’s second-up run in the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) next Sunday. The six-year-old chestnut ran on for fifth to Clarton Super at his comeback race in the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1400m) on February 17.
“Well Done has improved after his first-up run and is in good form. I hope he runs well next Sunday,” said Goh.
While Heng Kingdom was ridden to victory by Well Done’s 2016 Patron’s Bowl’s winning partner Glen Boss, the Australian hoop won’t be aboard the son of Falkirk in the Committee’s Prize. Vlad Duric takes the reins for the first time, while Boss will be riding arguably Well Done’s main rival, 2017 Singapore Horse of the Year Infantry.
The Australian Hall of Fame jockey might be riding a rival to Well Done next weekend, but he couldn’t be more rapt to bring up another winner for Goh on Sunday.
“It’s nice to ride for Jason. He is a real giver to charity,” said Boss.
“We need good people like him in racing. He puts in the good vibes, he gets the good vibes back.”
Sent out as the joint $17 favourite with Cracking Tottie in the $85,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1400m, Heng Kingdom was giving Boss “bad vibes” instead when he took a bad check at the 1000m mark, but they soon changed to “good vibes” when he noticeably improved along the rails to be within striking distance upon straightening.
With race-leader Auspicious Day (Wong Chin Chuen) as the bunny to chase down, Heng Kingdom stuck to his task very well, tussling it out manfully with Auspicious Day for about 150m before grinding out a neck victory.
After losing his spot to sit ahead of only stablemate Gold Company (Amirul Ismadi) from the 800m, Cracking Tottie had to go around more runners than Heng Kingdom to launch her assault. Under the circumstances, Cliff Brown’s So You Think filly did very well to run third another 2 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 23.15secs for the 14000m on the Long Course.
“I thought he would win easy, but I think he is looking for the mile. There wasn’t any such race, and we ran him over 1400m, and that’s probably why he was a bit dour towards the end,” said Boss.
“He never got away from the other horse, but he did the job in the end, which was good.”
On record, there is one more Animal Kingdom registered at Kranji, Elite Kingdom who has yet to score or place for champion trainer Mark Walker. Ridden by Boss as well, the three-year-old last raced on Friday night, running seventh to Istana.