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Bestseller is ready for Group photos

Le Grange-trained runner ‘fit, bright and happy’ ahead of Silver Bowl assignment

The Ricardo Le Grange-trained Bestseller has the Group runs on the board and looks primed to add the $110,000 Group 3 Silver Bowl (1,400m) to his already impressive tally on June 9.

Amazingly, the four-year-old son of Dream Ahead has raced at Group level on seven occasions from just 17 career starts, winning two: the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1,600m) on March 9 and the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1,700m) on Dec 2, 2023.

Add three second placings – in the Group 3 Singapore 3YO Sprint (1,200m), the Group 2 Singapore 3YO Classic (1,400m) and the Group 2 Singapore Guineas (1,600m) in 2023 – and Bestseller knows how to produce on the big days.

You could also argue that, at his last-start fourth in the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) on April 21, he could have finished a lot closer to the winner Lim’s Kosciuszko and, in what is a terrific guide to the June 9 feature, the runner-up in Lim’s Saltoro.

A point not lost on Le Grange, as he prepares his stable star – who has saluted seven times and amassed almost $419,000 in stakes – for the Silver Bowl, with one eye on the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) on June 30 and the jewel in the four-year-old crown, the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) on July 21.

“Most definitely, he could have finished closer,” said the South African conditioner on June 6.

“I thought that run in the EW Barker Trophy was really good with the bad luck he had.

“And his work on the line was what we wanted to see. He came through the race very well and I was happy enough with his trial win in 1min 01.37sec on May 28.

“The trial wasn’t super strong, but he just needed ticking over as he’s fit and in a happy place.

“We’ve drawn the ace (barrier 1) and there looks plenty of speed on, which suits us.

“Hopefully, we sit a couple of lengths behind the leaders and he will be doing his best work late.”

And the jockey who has been given the reins for the four-year-old series of races is the in-form Brazilian Bernardo Pinheiro, who was aboard Bestseller at two of his three placings (Classic and Guineas) in the three year-old series in 2023.

“Bernardo will be keen to win a Group race on him,” said Le Grange. “He ran second twice in the 3YO series, so is hungry for sure and knows the horse well.

“And I think he is a more complete jockey since coming back from Dubai.

“He has improved in the sense that he has shown me he is now just as adept at riding quietly as he is at front running, which he was always very good at.

“So he will give Bestseller every chance to finish off the race and all bodes well for a big run.”

With Bestseller’s two Group wins over 1,600m and 1,700m, Le Grange is well aware that improvement is expected over longer than the 1,400m of the Silver Bowl.

“We knew, as a three-year-old, that he would be a Singapore Derby prospect,” he explained of the Leonardo Jr Morales Javier-owned gelding.

“So the second (Stewards’ Cup) and third (Singapore Derby) legs are right up his alley.

“Longer the better. And the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (over 2,000m on Oct 5) is a longer-term goal. But, in saying that, he’s spot on for the 1,400m on Sunday. He’s bright, he’s happy and I’m excited to see how he goes.

“From day one, this horse has always tried to please us. A real fighter and you can’t train that trait into a horse. A pleasure to have in the stable.”

Of the dangers in the Silver Bowl, Le Grange suggested Lim’s Saltoro is the horse to beat, especially over seven furlongs.

“(Trainer) Daniel (Meagher) has done an amazing job with that horse,” he said.

“He has brought him along the right way and Lim’s Saltoro’s record of six wins from seven starts speaks for itself.

“And, obviously, his run in the EW Barker Trophy showed 1,400m is right up his alley, so we will have to be on top of our game on June 9.

“But I’m very confident Bestseller is ready for this race.

“And the longer the races, the better he will go.”