English import Elite Power has not taken too long to stamp his authority on local turf following his imposing first Singapore win on Friday night.
A three-time winner between 1100m and 1200m in UK, the Sakhee’s Secret four-year-old had had mixed fortunes in three starts, but one undisputed fact that transpired from those runs was he was not without ability.
After a promising Kranji debut second, Elite Power unfortunately bled at his next start. After the mandatory three-month suspension, he returned with a third place in a Class 3 race over 1000m, ridden by Craig Grylls for the first time.
Elite Power (Craig Grylls) motors home to claim the Class 3 race on Friday, picture Singapore Turf Club
No doubt such a result is encouraging after such a setback, but there was also a bittersweet taste of what could have been. Elite Power ran out of room and out of time in that race, beaten only one length by stablemate and $336 smokie Lim’s Reform.
Nonetheless, Walker and the Elite Performance Stable decided to stick solid with Grylls despite the luckless run. They were repaid manifold for renewing their trust in the Kiwi jockey.
Once bitten twice shy, Grylls certainly made sure he dodged the rush hour this time. After jumping from the second-worst alley (11), Elite Power ($23) skirted around the periphery all the way, but was nowhere near a spent force when Grylls stoked him up for his run upon straightening.
In one fell swoop, the English-bred sprinter darted to the lead from the fading trio of Uncle Lucky (Khalid Marzuki), Why Not (Benny Woodworth) and Stock Broker (Syahir Abdul). He did lose a bit of interest once he found himself on his lonesome, but under Grylls’ strong urgings, he knuckled down to the task to cross the line with 1 ½ lengths to spare from the fast-finishing Dynamic General (Zuriman Zulkifli) who just pipped Preferred (Olivier Placais) for second place by a nose.
The winning time was 59.57 seconds for the 1000m speed scamper.
Walker said that Elite Power was a sprinter archetype even if from the way he hit the line, he gives the impression he wouldn’t be out of his comfort zone if he was stretched a little further.
“I think 1000m to 1200m is more his go,” said the New Zealander.
“He’s a horse that bled after his second start. He has taken time to acclimatise.
“I had to give his feet the chance to grow. A lot of those European horses have that when they get here.
“He’s still new and to come back from these issues and win the way he did tonight tells me he’s got a nice future here.
“I’m also thankful to the owners for sticking with Craig. The horse was unlucky at his first-up run, and it was through no fault of Craig’s.
“Craig is a hard worker, is honest and is going really good. His wife Milou is the one who rides this horse every morning as well, so well done to her, too!”
Grylls, who was returning from a two-day suspension, said the wide trip could have taken the edge off him, but unlike last time when he was hamstrung behind a wall of horses, he took full advantage of the unfettered run.
Elite Power ate up the ground as he came off his searching run out wide, but could not quite career away to put himself beyond reach.
“It was not the best of runs. We were three deep round the bend,” said Grylls.
“But he was always travelling well and was too good when he kicked away. He was stopping in the last bit, but it was more like he was easing up under his own steam.
“I’m not sure how much further he can go, but the 1200m should not be an issue for him.”
A stakes earner of a handy sum of US$237,000 during his British career when known as Wick Powell for North Yorkshire trainer David Barron, Elite Power has taken his local prizemoney around the $65,000 mark for the Elite Performance Stable with that first hurrah at Kranji.