Hard Too Think completes S’pore Derby-QEII Cup double
Double celebration for trainer Stephen Gray, as he also wins $300,000 Group 2 race in Australia
Super-good luck - that best describes trainer Stephen Gray's fortunes on Saturday, when he savoured a stupendous major double in two countries.
Oxley Road, a promising four-year-old entire he races in partnership with his Singaporean and Australian associates, won the A$300,000 (S$299,700) Group 2 McCafe Caulfield Sprint over 1,000m in Melbourne.
Just two hours later, the lucky Kiwi was on hand at Kranji to cheer his Singapore Derby winner Hard Too Think to victory in the $300,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1,800m.
His five-year-old became the second successive Derby-QEII Cup hero, after Top Knight, who fell flat in his defence when eighth as the $19 favourite.
The race lost the pre-race favourite when dual-Group 1 winner Lim's Lightning was scratched due to a minor injury suffered on Cup eve.
Race Ahead and Better Life also completed the Derby-QEII Cup double at Kranji in 2010 and 2013 respectively.
Quechua won the Derby in 2015 and the QEII Cup in 2017.
Gray was naturally emotional after capturing the race inaugurated in 1972 to mark the British monarch's state visit to Singapore.
"I've had many happy days, many not so happy days, but today has to be one of the better ones," he said.
"Winning that Group 2 race in Australia was already terrific, and then the QEII Cup, one of Singapore's time-honoured races I had never won before - and I'm now so proud I've finally won."
All roads now lead to the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m on Nov 14.
Hard Too Think's jockey, Marc Lerner, was also a blessed man. His feature win capped a four-bagger from only six rides. He also scored on Miracle, Hyde Park and Siam Warrior.
He had a beautiful ground-saving ride on Hard Too Think - in third on the rails. Kranji Mile winner Minister led from the classy Katak, who hit the front soon after straightening.
But the South African import was in turn collared by Hard Too Think 180m out.
"To be honest, I never thought I would have such a good cosy run in third place on the rails. It was a dream run sitting behind the leaders.Once I let him come out, he won in two strides," said the Frenchman.