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Bestseller aiming to go one better

Le Grange backs game trier to get mile in Singapore Guineas

If a horse is mentioned in the same breath as a stable favourite, it is usually flattering.

Majestic Moments was one of Ricardo Le Grange’s stalwarts, a model of consistency, both under his care and that of his former mentor Patrick Shaw.

The South African trainer has always thought that Bestseller, his Singapore Guineas raider on Saturday, channels a lot of Tmen Stable’s eight-time winner.

The similarity in question was, however, not as desirable. It probably deprived Majestic Moments of at least one silverware.

The son of Darci Brahma had a bad habit of loafing around if he hit the front too soon. Or if he let down a fraction too late, he was a winner after the line.

Two close seconds to Well Done in the Group 1 Singapore Derby and Group 1 Patron’s Bowl in 2016, or coming up short against stablemate Quechua in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy the same year were a few cases in point.

He still had qualities in spades, which Le Grange hopes Bestseller will inherit in the $150,000 Group 2 Singapore Guineas (1,600m).

“This horse has a nice turn of foot, but he also reminds me of Majestic Moments,” said Le Grange.

“When he hits the front, he tends to get lost. You need to time his runs to a tee, it’s all about timing.

“He’s a lot better now he’s more mature. It was worse last time.”

Le Grange said that tendency to switch off when the son of Dream Ahead thinks the job is done proved costly – in the second leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1,400m) won by Coin Toss on May 6.

“In hindsight, when Bernardo (Pinheiro) and I saw the replays, a horse (Nimbus Cloud) was coming back to him,” said Le Grange.

“As far I can see, if Bernardo had sat a little longer, it could have been a different result.”

Pinheiro is Le Grange’s go-to-man these days. Le Grange saddles only two other horses on Saturday, Leatherhead and Zoffspeed, with both to be ridden by the Brazilian.

The Singapore Guineas, which is staging its comeback after its last running in 2020, is a race that resonates with Le Grange, even if it has proven elusive.

“I thought Bestseller was worth a crack at the Guineas right from the beginning,” he said. “I’ve always had some success in that race even if I haven’t won it yet.

“Rocket Star ran second to Inferno in 2020. King Louis, Captain Jamie and Tesoro Privado ran 2-3-4 to Mr Clint in 2018.

“I know what kind of horse to run in the Guineas, and Bestseller definitely fits the bill.

“If you go back to his early runs, I ran him over 1,400m very quickly. I always thought he would stay.

“I did some research and his mum (Maxi Dress) won over a mile in England. The half-brothers and half-sisters to his second dam side also won over the mile.

“His racing pattern does not suggest he will run 3,000m, but he does look like a lovely miler.

“I’m confident we can step him up to the mile, though. He could even be my Derby horse next year.”

The third leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) will be run on July 23.

As the winning trainer of Hongkong Great in the 2022 Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) and having assisted Shaw with Mr Line, Quechua or Cooptado, Le Grange has a deft hand with stayers.

But he also believes they cannot be made, but are born that way.

“Bestseller always had a great baseline of fitness, and a lot of my horses have that,” said Le Grange.

“From the 1,200m to 1,400m, he gave me a good sign. I just kept him to the same routine.

“He’s a very habitual horse. I don’t change much with him.”

However, he did appreciate the bonus prep time after the club postponed the Guineas by a week.

The race was rescheduled from May 20 to 27 after the second leg that was rained off on April 29 cut the time between races down to only two weeks.

“The extra week he got has been a blessing. I couldn’t thank the STC enough for that,” said Le Grange.

“It would’ve been hard on the horses. So, it’s a good thing for animal welfare.”