The Singapore Golden Horseshoe series is upon us again and it was Charger who lived up to his name when he charged home late to take out the first Leg of the yearly juvenile series, the $90,000 Kranji Nursery Stakes (1000m) on Friday.
The John O’Hara-trained Dick Turpin colt was among six two-year-olds who were at their first career race, with only Auspicious Day to have already had one run under the belt, when a long last to Grey Falcon in a Restricted Maiden race six weeks ago.
But Charger ($32) was indisputably the superior horse on the day when he came under a well-judged ride from Michael Rodd to dominate favourite Bringer Of War (Shafiq Rizuan) in the concluding stages.
From barrier No 3, Rodd was able to settle Charger snugly into the box-seat behind Bringer Of War, biding his time until they swung into the home straight.
Charger (Michael Rodd) races past Bringer Of War (Shafiq Rizuan) to take out the Kranji Nursery Stakes, picture Singapore Turf Club
That was when Rodd peeled Charger out for his run, and it was clear from that point onwards between who the finish would be settled.
Charger attacked the line with great aplomb, but Bringer Of War, a two-time Kranji barrier trial winner, dug down deep in a bid to regain the advantage. Charger kept finding, though, to go and score by one length from a gallant Bringer Of War.
Hun Yeang Road (Vlad Duric) ran third another 1 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was 59.97 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.
O’Hara was above all pleased for Charger’s owner Constance Cheng (principal of Toast Trusts Stable), a long-time owner and supporter of his, but who does not often get a chance to bask in the limelight.
“I’m very happy for Constance as she has always been a strong supporter of mine for a long time, and above all a strong supporter of racing,” said the Singaporean trainer.
“It’s good to see her finally enjoy the reward of owning a good bunch of horses, and I think Charger is certainly one of them. She’s got a few more babies coming up.”
O’Hara’s assistant-trainer Stephen Crutchley certainly held Charger in high regard at the post-race interview, even if he said he was not quite the finished article yet.
“Constance bought three babies from Australia and this one was the most forward,” said the New Zealander.
“He showed a lot at his barrier trials even if he was still very colty. Michael was happy with him and said he wanted to ride him, and that suited us just fine.
“The plan was to sit behind the leader, Mark Walker’s filly, and things went to plan. Let’s hope for better things to come out of him.”
Rodd said his mount was just purring along and it was just a matter of clicking up for another gear once he gets into a position to issue his challenge.
“My bloke jumped well and just sat behind the leader,” said the Australian jockey who was at the double after scoring earlier with Leon.
“He showed a nice turn of foot and plenty of qualities first-up, which is all credit to him, as he only passed an Official Race Trial two weeks ago and ran another trial to qualify for today.”
The Kranji Nursery Stakes is the first of a series of six races which will climax with the Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) on July 7.