Artillery takes aim at Classic, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Artillery takes aim at Classic

3YO Sprint second convinces Logan to press on to 1,400m leg

On June 3, 2023, the racing outlook looked bright for trainer Donna Logan, especially for her two-year-old babies Artillery and Santino.

The Te Akau Racing pair ran second and third respectively at their Kranji launch in a Restricted Maiden (1,200m), auguring well for their Group 3 Singapore Golden Horseshoe (1,200m) aspirations in seven weeks’ time.

Longer term, they also fitted the bill as three-year-old contenders in 2024.

Barely two days later, these lofty projects were the furthest things on the New Zealander’s mind. Like her 21 fellow Kranji trainers, she was hit with a bombshell – racing was closing on Oct 5, 2024.

Life had to go on until then but, targeting and planning for races, which are an exciting and challenging part of a trainer’s job, suddenly felt hollow.

Almost like going through the motions, she pressed on with her plans for Artillery and Santino, but was thrown another spanner in the works when Santino nearly lost his life in a freak accident at the stables.

Luckily, the remaining Artillery lived up to his 2YO billing even if he did not win the Golden Horseshoe. He ran on for third to Greatham Boy, and also won second-up.

The son of Smart Missile still had a shot at 3YO glory at Singapore racing’s farewell in 2024.

But, four lacklustre runs as a three-year-old were not sending the signals Logan had hoped for.

The winning trainer of the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1,200m) with January in 2023 is not the sort to throw in the towel, though.

She pushed the reset button and tipped Artillery out for five months.

The outcome was stunning. With an ounce of luck, Logan could have won back-to-back Sprints on April 6. Artillery flew home along the rail to beat all but Ace Of Diamonds.

“He got held up, but it was still a huge run,” said Logan, whose other Singapore feature win came in the 2021 Kranji Mile with Minister.

“I wasn’t that surprised he ran a good race as he has shown us a lot in his earlier races.

“When he went up to 1,400m, he didn’t run a place, but I think he was probably looking for a spell.

“They were good runs, all things considered.”

Logan said it was the gelding’s physique which was hindering his potential, coupled also with his immaturity.

“He is a tall lanky horse, and it’s hard for such horses to sustain,” she said.

“He was getting sour and desperately needed a spell. He just turned three, I thought it was the right time to back him off after his last race in a Novice race (eighth to Ace Of Diamonds) in November.

“If he was to be kept on the 3YO path, I decided that he would just need a nice long lead-up into the Sprint without trials.

“I didn’t trial him a lot, only once. I just wanted to keep him fresh.

“He’s a quirky horse and has had numerous riders, but (Vitor) Espindola did a good job on him at his last start.

“I think he has also matured now. It’s another benefit from the break.”

A winner of 850 races in New Zealand and Australia, including 60 at Group and Listed level, Logan would have a fair idea about how far limits can be tested in racing.

“I did contemplate racing him over the 1,400m leg in the 3YO series,” she said.

“But going into the 1,200m race, I didn’t know yet if he could go up to 1,400m.

“But from the way he finished off, you had to run him.

“Besides, all the others will also be at their step-up to 1,400m. We’re all in the same boat.”

Artillery will renew rivalry with six of his Sprint opponents in the $150,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1,400m) on April 27.

Besides the winner Ace Of Diamonds, Bakeel, Last Supper, Strike Gold, Greatham Boy and Pacific Commander will be in his way again, as well as four new challengers, including recent three-in-a-row winner Lim’s Bighorn.

“It’s a pretty similar field except for a few, like Lim’s Bighorn, who’s very talented,” said Logan.

“You have to respect all of them at the end of the day.”

Artillery has drawn well in barrier No. 3, incidentally the same gate he broke from in the Sprint.

As to whether the Group 2 Singapore Guineas (1,600m) on May 18 was on the cards, Logan would rather focus on the task at hand.

“I’m not sure he can go up to a mile,” she said.

“Let’s wait for this race first.”