Kharisma looks set for Merlion duty
Trophy runners limber up on the training track
If there is a stand-out in Saturday's sprint for the Merlion Trophy, look no further than Kharisma.
And, when you toss in the fact that the race will be run under weight-for-age conditions, the five-year-old becomes even more appealing.
Kharisma was one of the Trophy candidates sent out for work on the training track yesterday morning and he came away from that workout looking in pristine condition.
Held together well by Marc Lerner, Kharisma ran 600m in 40.3sec, finishing with a ton in hand.
Slated to carry the No. 2 saddlecloth in the final feature of the 2021 racing season, Kharisma gets into the race after a thoroughly invigorating last-start, where he beat Makkem Lad in a photo-finish.
That was on Singapore Gold Cup Day and Kharisma was featured in the top contest on the undercard.
In that race, Kharisma powered home under vigorous riding by Lerner to catch and dispose of Makkem Lad right there on the line.
It was his ninth success and it earned him five rating points, which propelled him into that elite club of runners with rating points of 100 and above.
While that last win was on the turf, come Saturday, Kharisma shouldn't have problems on the alternate surface.
Indeed, it might suit him even better, having won five of his nine wins on the Polytrack.
Yes, trainer Stephen Gray, who would have been crushed when Hard Too Think was beaten in the Gold Cup, has a good thing to help him round off the season.
Grand Koonta, another member of that exclusive rating club, was equally impressive on the training track.
The galloper with 101 rating points finished off his preparation with a 39.9sec gallop. It signalled his intentions to finish the season with a flourish.
By his lofty standards - he has won six races and has been second on five other occasions - 2021 had not been all that memorable.
Trained by James Peters, he faced the starter just seven times this year, winning just once. That was in January.
However, he put in a mighty decent effort last time when sixth to Kharisma in the Class 1 sprint over 1,200m.
In that race, run 10 days ago, he had a horrid passage.
Bumped heavily just after leaving the chute, he had to steadied at the 800m mark. To compound matters, he was held up for room on straightening and, yet again, had to be steadied when passing the 300m mark.
Still, he finished just two lengths behind the winner.
Of the rest who had workouts yesterday, Gold Star (38.1sec) and Sacred Rebel came away looking in good shape.
In particular, Sacred Rebel - who ran 600m in 38.4sec - caught the eye.
With 10 starts this season and one win to show, he has been working up a storm at the trials.
Indeed, he won his last three hit-outs with the last one being run just eight days ago.
He will come into the $110,000 Merlion Trophy race looking like a contender and could end the season on a high.