Tuesday morning trackwork at Kranji was a hive of activity among the local hopes for the $1.5 million Invitational Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) while the “foreigners” were just humming along, but still looking ready to go.
Eight of the 10-strong home team had a blowout on mainly the Polytrack, except for Volkstok’n’barrell who drew plenty of notice with a late hit-out on the turf track at around 9.15am and Elite Excalibur who went dashing over 800m on Track 6.
While the local connections – except for Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy winner Circuit Land who gallops on Wednesday – having all put the bulk of the prep work to bed back home, the attention will now turn to the earlier time slot of 5am to 5.45am for any faster work from the three overseas contenders, Hong Kong’s Southern Legend and Horse Of Fortune and New Zealand’s Ocean Emperor.
None of them have required clockers to get their finger poised on their stopwatches thus far. They came to Singapore race-fit and just needed to be kept ticking over.
A leisurely canter on either Track 2 or Track 4 was all they were put through with the possibility of more work coming in the next couple of days while trainer Caspar Fownes has indicated Southern Legend won’t need a track gallop.
Ocean Emperor (NZ) – Gary Hennessy
Trotted and cantered up and down Track 4 with track rider Tui Miles up.
“He had a quiet morning today, just trot and canter down the back,” said trainer Gary Hennessy.
“He may breeze on the Polytrack tomorrow. He’s put on five kilos; he is where we want him to be.
“He is bright and well.”
Southern Legend (HK) – Caspar Fownes
Two laps of canter on Polytrack (Track 2) under work rider Mok Chun Wa.
“He did two rounds of canter. He loves that Polytrack, it’s got a lovely underfoot,” said trainer Caspar Fownes.
“It’s a great surface and it’s been very well maintained. He won’t be doing any gallop, just canter on grass tomorrow as he’s a fit horse.
“I’ll still be here tomorrow morning and then I’ll fly back to Hong Kong as I’ve got horses running tomorrow, and I’ll come back here the next day.”
Horse Of Fortune (HK) – Tony Millard
Steady canter over 2000m on the Polytrack (Track 2) with Beverly Millard in the saddle.
“We did 1 ½ laps on Track 2 this morning. We’re trying to do the same distance we work him on back home -2000m,” said Beverly Millard, Tony Millard’s wife.
“Going the other way, yesterday, he changed his legs in the second lap but today he did it no problem on the first lap.
“When he returned to the stables, he went straight for his water bucket, which is a good sign. There is not much of him, but we didn’t weigh him yesterday – he will have a day off in the afternoon.
“He is from an ordinary family. I haven’t really heard of his sire Stronghold, but his dam Sweet Virginia was quite a good mare.
“There are no rules in racing. In South Africa, he was well beaten in the Cape Guineas which is our most prestigious mile race for three-year-olds, by a horse called Elusive Gold.
“That horse was trained by Brett Crawford and ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe, but was also sent to Hong Kong where he was renamed Golden Sleep, but he became an ordinary handicapper whereas Horse Of Fortune has turned out to be a very nice horse.”
Horse Of Fortune (Beverly Millard) stretches out nicely on Track 2.
Circuit Land (SG) – Lee Freedman
One lap of canter on the Polytrack (Track 2) with jockey Daniel Moor in the saddle.
“He will gallop tomorrow. He just cantered today,” said trainer Lee Freedman.
“I’m happy with him. He is at the same level of fitness he was at his Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy win, he’s nice and bright.
“He’s only a small thing, but he has a big heart. It’s not the size of the dog in a fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
Jockey Daniel Moor who is only warming the saddle for French jockey Alexis Badel said that Circuit Land was primed and ready.
“We did one lap of canter, and his fitness is good. The main thing is he is relaxing a lot better now,” said Moor who has worked the Hong Kong-owned gelding before.
“I would say he has maintained his form.”
Daniel Moor and Circuit Land return to the stables after their workout.
Clarton Super (SG) – Tan Kah Soon
Regular partner Azhar Ismail took him for his final hit-out on Polytrack (Track 2). The dual Group winner cantered off the first lap before working home in 37.3 seconds.
“That was his last gallop, his job is done. The horse is back to himself,” said jockey Azhar Ismail.
“He wasn’t right at his last run in the Chairman’s Trophy when he lost a shoe. Before that, he had a small setback with his shoe and that delayed his barrier trial.
“From the way he worked today, he was a lot better than at his last start. He travelled easy throughout.
“Let’s hope for the best now - a good draw and luck in the run.”
Clarton Super (Azhar Ismail) limbers around the Polytrack.
Elite Excalibur (SG) – Cliff Brown
Galloped over 800m on Track 6 with race-jockey Michael Rodd up, clocking 37.3 seconds for the last 600m.
“I’m very happy with him, he’s peaking at the right time,” said jockey Michael Rodd.
“His action was very good and he ran the last 800m in around 37-38 seconds. He’s spot-on for Saturday.”
Elite Excalibur (Michael Rodd) makes his way to Track 6 on Tuesday morning.
Infantry, Nova Strike & Maximus (SG) – Alwin Tan
All three runners from the Alwin Tan yard came out on Track 2 for a maintenance gallop under their respective race-riders. Infantry ran the last 600m in 38.3 seconds while Nova Strike clocked a smarter time sprinting the last furlong in 35.3 seconds.
“I couldn’t be happier with their final gallops,” said trainer Alwin Tan.
“The big boy, Infantry, is my best horse and has maintained his form. He was very relaxed within himself at his gallop on the main track today.
“A lot will depend on luck. Hopefully we get some rain on Saturday.
“Olivier Placais is very happy with Nova Strike. He said the horse gave him a very good feeling today.
“Maximus is running against top class horses, but I think he can finish off well. I’m also happy with him.”
The three riders also gave the thumbs-up after they jumped off their respective rides.
“It was just a quiet easy maintenance gallop. He’s a very fit horse and doesn’t need more than that,” said Vlad Duric who partners Infantry.
“He had the same kind of gallop last Saturday. We just wanted to give him some short sharp work just to keep him happy.
“He pulled up very well after his last run. He will like some cut in the ground as it will help him recover better.
“He’s in a really good shape and it will come down to the barriers. The horse he will have to worry about is Zac’s (Purton) horse (Southern Legend ).”
Olivier Placais confirmed that Nova Strike could not have been in better form ahead of his Group 1 rendezvous.
“He’s got a great action. He’s very calm and he had a quiet gallop this morning,” said the French jockey.
“We went at three-quarter pace from the 800m, quickened up from the 400m and finished it off in the last 200m. If he is not ready today, he will never be ready.”
Leading apprentice jockey Troy See also jumped off with a bullish report even if Maximus is likely to start at long odds.
“He’s as good as you can expect him to be. I’m happy with his work,” said See.
“Hopefully, he puts in a good run. Actually, I don’t think he’ll run a bad race.”
Iron Man & Majestic Moments (SG) – Ricardo Le Grange
After Iron Man galloped on Monday, it was Majestic Moments’ turn to have his hit-out under race-jockey Nooresh Juglall on Track 2, going at three-quarter pace in the first lap before quickening up to reel off the last 600m in 36.3 seconds. Iron Man was hand-walked around the stables.
“It was just maintenance work for Majestic Moments,” said jockey Nooresh Juglall of the horse who gave him his first win at his first ride in 2014.
“He went at three-quarter pace and finished off nicely under his own steam. He is in the best form he has ever been in a long time.
“I think the break helped him. We’ve done all that we could to bring the Majestic Moments of old back.”
Preditor (SG) – Shane Baertschiger
Came out for his final 1000m gallop on the Polytrack (Track 2) with jockey Matthew Kellady aboard, sprinting home in 38.5 seconds over the last 600m.
“He went really good. That should top him off nicely for Saturday,” said trainer Shane Baertschiger.
“The horse is in really good shape. Hopefully, he can measure up to that level.”
Volkstok’n’barrell (SG) – Donna Logan
Galloped on the turf track (Track 1) with race-rider Craig Grylls up, just edging work companion Whaakaria Mai (Alysha Collett). Time clocked was 36.7 seconds for the last 600m and 12.1 seconds for the last 200m.
“I’m very happy with that grass gallop. It was just maintenance work but it was still a nice working gallop,” said trainer Donna Logan of her New Zealand multiple-Group winner who has yet to race in Singapore.
“He stretched out lovely and got to the line very well. He had plenty left in the tank.”
Jockey Craig Grylls said that Volkstok’n’barrell has come through his prep very well since he landed in Singapore at the end of March.
“I was happy with the way he went through his paces, he is feeling really well within himself,” said the Kiwi jockey.
“He was very forward today, he wouldn’t blow a match after he pulled up. I’ve seen him improve week after week since he came here, getting better and better under his own steam.”
Volkstok'n'barrell (Craig Grylls) works alongside stablemate Whakaaria Mai (Alysha Collett) on the turf