Big guns locked and loaded
Gold Cup winner Hongkong Great heads star-studded cast in Kranji Stakes A event
Do not rub your eyes. You are seeing right. It is not a cup race.
But, yes, the $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race on Sunday has the trimmings and the class to easily qualify as one.
It is oozing talent.
Among the contenders are some of the best horses residing at Kranji and most will be having their first outing in the new season.
Hongkong Great has not been seen in a race since winning the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m on Nov 19, 2022.
The classy South African-bred Katak, a runner-up in the 2021 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m), has not raced since scoring on July 9.
That was in another Kranji Stakes A event, but over 2,000m.
Like Hongkong Great, million-dollar club member Minister has been in hibernation since Gold Cup Day.
Same, too, Sacred Croix.
Well, if you have missed them, then do not miss the Kranji races on Sunday. Chances are, you will get to see them all.
Yes, the stars will be out there.
Whether or not they will shine bright is left to be seen, but we know that they will be “in the mood”.
They were out on the training track on Tuesday morning and all looked prepared for battle.
Best among them, of course, was Hongkong Great.
The “golden” face of the Ricardo Le Grange yard, he stretched out eagerly, stopping the clock at 37sec for his 600m spin on the main Polytrack.
While others his age might be thinking about retirement and romping in green pastures, this Chilean-bred seven-year-old must be thinking of his next assignment.
It is the 1,400m sprint on the short course and it might not seem like his cup of tea.
But Hongkong Great has won over the mile, leading all the way to land the goodies.
If his rivals do not accord him the respect he deserves, he could make them pay dearly.
Mind you, he is resuming with a trial victory on Jan 31.
As for Katak, who also won his trial on Jan 17, he had an easy time. He just cantered two laps on the Polytrack.
However, Minister went against the clock. He ran the 600m on the right-handed Track 6 in 38.5.
Up in the saddle was 2022 champion apprentice Yusoff Fadzli, who came away from the action on Feb 4 with a nice double.
Back to Minister, he had a terrible time in the Gold Cup race. He never had a peep-in, finishing a distant last to Hongkong Great.
But we know that he is a lot better than that.
The 2,000m trip was not really his cup of tea and he will be transformed when racing over Sunday’s shorter distance of 1,400m, especially when fresh.
In a career which has seen him race 29 times for five wins, he has won three races over 1,600m, including the 2021 $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile.
In the time since his Gold Cup failure in November, trainer Donna Logan must have done plenty to keep him trim and taut.
After all, we did see him run a cracker at the trials on Jan 31.
That day, Minister had jockey Matthew Kellady doing the steering when beaten into second place by Thunder Star.
But it was a blanket finish and Minister was only a nostril behind.
Also impressive galloper on the training track was Sacred Croix.
The eight-year-old son of Savabeel had Benny Woodworth in the saddle when clearing the 600m in 37.1 on the Polytrack. That came after some serious cantering to loosen up those muscles.
With almost $850,000 in the bank, Sacred Croix is looking to join the Kranji Millionaires’ Club. Although he is getting on in years, he can still raise a winning gallop.
Runner-up to Prosperous Return in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in October, he was winless for the entire 2022 season.
But we know that there is still plenty of racing left in that frame of his.
Outside of that Kranji Stakes A thriller, Mesmerizing was most impressive when running the 600m in 39.1.
He is down to contest the Class 4 event over the mile.
Mesmerizing’s last-start victory on Jan 7 was full of merit. Ridden by apprentice Jerlyn Seow, he tracked front-runner Ricvelo all the way until the furlong mark, where he hit the front and went on to win by almost two lengths.
Trainer Stephen Crutchley has kept his charge ticking over nicely.
A five-year-old entire by Cosmic Trigger, Mesmerizing had a trial on Feb 2. It was an easy stretch out.
Right now, there is nothing to say that he cannot fashion another victory.
Crutchley has picked a nice race for his charge, who does not need to be “mesmerisingly “ good to land the prize.
So keep him on your shortlist.
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