Katak is out of Cups, but yard is not KO-ed, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Katak is out of Cups, but yard is not KO-ed

Le Grange still has two choice back-ups, including Senor Don who runs on Saturday

One notable absentee in the race billed as the Queen Elizabeth II Cup prelude on Saturday is Katak.

It turned out the impressive last-start winner has hurt himself and will not be seen at the Kranji races for the remaining season.

The triple South African Group 3 winner was among the early fancies for the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) on Oct 15 and Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) on Nov 19, in the wake of his five-length stroll in a Kranji Stakes A race (2,000m) in July.

The way he slayed domestic Group 1 winners such as Minister, Hard Too Think and Top Knight more than made up for his last two dismal runs, especially that baffling Kranji Mile drubbing.

But those lofty Cups plans have been scuppered after the Potala Palace six-year-old injured his fetlock in a recent gallop.

“Katak is sidelined. After he pulled up short after a gallop, we found chips in his fetlock,” said trainer Ricardo Le Grange.

“He’s out for the rest of the year. It’s a big blow for everybody, but they all understand the horse comes first, his welfare.

“We can all live to see another day. He’ll be back next year.”

All is not lost for the South African trainer, though, as he still has two bullets for the last two majors on the Singapore racing calendar, Senor Don and Hongkong Great, two last-start winners.

While Hongkong Great is sitting out this Saturday’s $100,000 Class 1 race over the turf mile, Senor Don will be in the line-up.

The Argentinian-bred six-year-old might not have the charisma of Katak or Hongkong Great, but the bold front-running chestnut with the white face is as tough as teak.

The son of Senor Candy is hard to topple when he gets his own in front, as evidenced by his last two all-the-way wins. The Cups ticket clincher had to be the last one, even if he scraped home by a short head.

Not only was it a huge leap of faith in skipping one class towards Class 1 company, but the previous three-time Polytrack winner also showed he was not one-dimensional with a first win on turf – the course for the two Cups.

To Le Grange, Senor Don, who is raced by long-time clients Chelsea Stable, is not a last-minute surprise guest to the party. 

He always knew he had a motor, he was just trying to work out the sand in the gears.

“This horse has always had ability, but was there something bothering him, niggling him? Sadly, yes,” said Le Grange.

“We found out he had a stress fracture to the shoulder. After he had five months between runs, he has come back a different horse, he has pulled his act together.

“It’s a bit difficult this Saturday with barrier 10. I haven’t really looked at the card either.

“But I couldn’t be happier with him. He’s in a good mental space.”

After leading apprentice jockey Yusoff Fadzli’s sterling job on Senor Don at his last start, it stood to reason that the 2kg claimer would be sought again. Senor Don’s handicap will come down to 52.5kg.

After Hongkong Great opened his local account in a Class 2 race over the Polytrack mile on Sept 10, Le Grange could have struck the iron when it is hot.

But he resisted the temptation of giving the Chilean triple-Group 1 winner a run within two weeks.

“Hongkong Great was very impressive the week before. We decided not to run him this week as it was a good hard run,” he said.

“He’s an old horse. We don’t need to get the runs into him, we just keep him happy.

“You know, with those old horses, you have to think out of the box, change their habits around or they get stale.”

Le Grange said that philosophy is not confined to just the equine kind.

“I’m turning 50 soon. It started off as some kind of experimenting, but I’ve been running and cycling every day now,” he said.

“I took myself out of my comfort zone, keep pushing myself. I never thought I had it, but I want to run a half-marathon now.”