General Command in total control
Progressive galloper continues to show improvement as he steps up in grade
A two-month layoff seems to have strengthened Australian import General Command up even further.
Rested since the last of his previous three Kranji wins in a Class 3 race (1,200m) on April 1, the Shalaa four-year-old was taking on tougher opposition in a $85,000 Class 2 race (1,100m) first-up on Saturday.
The field was small – only six runners – but select with the likes of bold front runner Illustrious, Sacred Gift and Red Ocean, all worthy opponents in this grade.
Not much could have swayed punters from their early impression of the Australian one-time winner in Caulfield.
They backed him with confidence to $6.
Raced once every month since January, bar May during his spell, he has struck three times from Class 4 to Class 3.
He was beaten only once, finding one better in the smart Silent Is Gold at his first Class 3 test.
But, from the way General Command took the bull by the horns from the get-go on Saturday, it is clear trainer Jason Lim and Lordship Stable will have a lot more fun with their horse.
Unafraid to serve it up to Illustrious (Daniel Moor) at the top of the queue, he dashed clear when he was entitled to get the staggers and General Command did not give up the fight.
Softened up, Illustrious could not show his usual mettle upon straightening.
General Command swept past the fading grey to open up a commanding break.
I Am Sacred (Jerlyn Seow) did whittle down the margin but could only settle for second place, 23/4 lengths away.
Red Ocean (Rozlan Nazam) ran third, another length away.
Illustrious finished a disappointing fifth, 8¼ lengths away. He returned lame off-fore.
The winning time was 1min 4.55sec for the Poly 1,100m.
Lim said small fields can be tricky, but to him, the only way for his Inglis Digital sale buy to win the race was not let the main threat, Illustrious, get away with cheap sectionals.
“The plan was not to let Illustrious go too far ahead, just stalk him,” said Lim.
“From there, I just asked Nunes to do his best, and it’s worked out well.
“Maybe I’ll look at a Class 1 Polytrack over 1,200m (June 24) next. But I’ll see how he pulls up first and plan again.”
Nunes is not the sort given to over-the-top celebrations when he wins a race, but the Brazilian was unusually exuberant after he crossed the line this time.
He even looked behind as he punched the air in delight before patting General Command on the neck.
“He’s a lovely horse. He had a break and just came back, that’s why I was so happy,” he said.
“It was not a big field, but Illustrious is always hard to beat when he gets his own way in front.
“Thanks to Jason Lim, I’m very pleased to be on such a good horse.
“Up against Illustrious, I had to ride him like he was the best horse in the race.
“He had only 54kg this time, whereas he always carries 57 to 58kg.
“The good thing is we can ride him anywhere, and luckily, we got the job done.”
General Command turned out to be the four-time Singapore champion jockey’s only win of the day, but was part of a much more prolific harvest for Lim.
The Singaporean trainer saddled a treble with two more successes from Two Million ($18) and Cosmic Dancer ($31) to take his overall score to 20 winners.
He now sits second on the Singapore trainers’ premiership, trailing leader Michael Clements by only two winners.
On Sunday, he will present Super Salute, one of the favourites in the the $110,000 Silver Bowl (1,400m).
The Group 3 race is first leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.