Hard Too ignore Gray's star, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Hard Too ignore Gray's star

Hard Too Think may find today’s Kranji Mile too sharp, but his class can see him shine

The two Lim’s heavyweights are bound to figure prominently as the Kranji Mile favourites in pre-race chit-chats, but it would be unwise to underestimate the rest as bit-players.

A capacity field of 16 runners will face the starter in a mouth-watering $1 million International Group 3 and domestic Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m) this afternoon. 

As trainers and owners alike will assert, “you’ve got to be in it to win it”, and truth be told, a case can be made for at least two-thirds of the field.

Lim’s Kosciuszko’s last-start second to Gold Star in a Class 1 race over 1,400m three weeks ago was a belter, even if he was tasting defeat for the first time in nine starts.

At level weights and with a 3.5kg turnaround, trainer Daniel Meagher’s exciting four-year-old by Kermadec has every chance to exact revenge on his nemesis.

The switch of riders with stable jockey Danny Beasley, committed to Lim’s Lightning from the get-go, suddenly hopping onto Lim’s Kosciuszko – and Wong Chin Chuen taking the ride on Lim’s Lightning – will definitely sway some punters as a guide to stable confidence.

Although Lim’s Kosciuszko has won once over 1,600m, it was in an easier Kranji Stakes A event.

At the highest level, it could be different. From the way he shortened up last time over 1,400m, the extra 200m may test him more.

Lim’s Lightning’s first-up run since his Singapore Gold Cup heroics over 2,000m last November was also full of merit. 

No doubt, he could muster only a sixth place in that same race won by Gold Star. But the Lope De Vega six-year-old will definitely strip fitter today and will enjoy the mile much better.

If there was a run that really caught the eye in that Kranji Mile prelude, it was Hard Too Think’s.

The 2021 Singapore Derby and Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner was also resuming since his gallant second in the Singapore Gold Cup, but he closed off for a meritorious third over a trip short of his best.

The All Too Hard five-year-old will lap up the extra 200m and commands plenty of respect second-up at set-weight conditions. 

Typical of Stephen Gray’s methodical approach, the Kiwi trainer has given the dual Group 1 winner all the time in the world to peak for a targeted race.

The five-time winner is arguably not quite cherry-ripe at only his second outing this campaign.

But his sheer class can see him rise to the occasion with a run, not to mention the added advantage of being reunited with his regular partner, Marc Lerner. He is the one to beat.

As for the other Kranji Mile contenders, Katak would have been one of the leading fancies, if not for his last-start blemish when he ran last in that Kranji Mile trial.

Both trainer Ricardo Le Grange and jockey Manoel Nunes put it down to an off-day. 

If the South African triple-Group 3 winner brings his A-game – as he did at that emphatic second Kranji win in a Kranji Stakes A race over the mile last February – he cannot be discarded too hastily.

On his last-start victory, Gold Star has to be included in the calculations, too.

But the Tim Fitzsimmons-trained Redente six-year-old had no weight on his back that day, whereas he will have to lump 7kg extra this time and on terms with the other 15 runners.