Aramaayo flexes his muscles

Trainer Baertschiger's Kranji Mile winner among the top Derby candidates to burn up the training track

It was like a morning preview of the Singapore Derby with 12 of the 14 entrants appearing on the training track - each looking as competitive as the next.

The only two who were missing were Ocean Crossing and Minister. But both had excuses as they were at the trials (see other report on Page 12).

As expected, plenty of attention was focused on Aramaayo.

They remembered how devastating he was when winning the rich million-dollar Kranji Mile.

More about that later. For now, the important thing in punters' minds is his condition ahead of Saturday's assignment.

Well, on that count, the connections must be beaming. Aramaayo looked in excellent shape over the 600m.

Ridden by jockey Matthew Kellady, the five-year-old stopped the clock at 37.6sec.

From the way he finished off the Kranji Mile and the fact that he has raced up to 2,500m in Australia, Aramaayo should easily see out the Derby distance of 1,800m.

Trained by Shane Baertschiger, Aramaayo has been a quiet achiever, having finished out of the money just once in his seven starts.

His other win was over the 1,400m in February, when beating the very-talented Top Knight who, incidentally worked yesterday, clocking 38.7sec for the scurry.

But back to Aramaayo. He can no longer hide in the shadows. After that last win, he is now a marked horse and will probably be sent out as one of the favourites on Saturday.

Also impressive was Churchill.

He had Benny Woodworth doing the steering when navigating the 600m in 38.1sec.

The workout comes on the back of a second-place finish behind Loyalty Man in a race over the mile on Aug 16 and a win at the trials just last week ,when he clocked 60.58sec for the 1,000m.

A winner of two races - over 1,400m and 1,200m - he can win from the front or, like he did when scoring over the 1,200m sprint in late July, take off from a midfield spot.

One who will certainly relish the 1,800m could be the Michael Clements-trained Siam Blue Vanda.

Another one of those quiet achievers, Siam Blue Vanda worked extremely well, clocking 36.5sec for the 600m.

A winner of seven races from 17 starts, he was most impressive when winning the Stewards' Cup in late March.

Since March now seems so long ago, here's a recap. That day, Siam Blue Vanda was sent off as the $34 second pick in that 1,600m contest.

Ridden by A'Isisuhairi "Harry" Kasim, he was one of five runners trained by Clements.

Unsighted in the early part of the race, he was still a "mile" back when the 13-horse field began that charge home.

When the front runners began to get the staggers, it was Siam Blue Vanda who was joined by Aramaayo and Top Knight to unleash terrifying runs.

Over the final 75m, the Clements' pair of Top Knight and Siam Blue Vanda dropped off Aramaayo and drew away to fight out the finish, with Siam Blue Vanda getting the nod by a short head.

Clements has three runners entered for the Derby. This could be the ace in his pack.