Knippenberg ready for winning comeback
Logan’s smart debut winner impresses with fast-closing second in Tuesday morning trial
He was not supposed to be so good.
After all, Knippenberg’s claim to fame before being flown out of Australia to continue his racing in Singapore was a third placing in a 1,200m race at Bathurst racecourse in New South Wales.
That was in May, 2022.
Four months later, Knippenberg had taken up residence at trainer Donna Logan’s Kranji stables.
And, well, we know the rest.
In January – and after a decent trial which saw him run third to Watery – Logan sent her charge to the races.
It was a Restricted Maiden event over 1,200m on grass and word must have gone out that Knippenberg was a horse to watch.
So it was, astute punters backed him down to $30 on the win and, as we now know, the third pick in the race went on to beat the first and second favourites – Popeyethesailorman and Star North.
Not only that.
He beat them hands down, romping in by almost two lengths, after holding down second spot for most of the trip.
Well, the secret was out. Knippenberg was something special – and there was nowhere to hide.
Three weeks later, on Feb 18, the gelding by I Am Invincible trotted off to the start as the $8 top fancy in a 1,200m race on the Polytrack.
The “double” was not to be.
Under Ronnie Stewart, Knippenberg was beaten by Bestseller, going down by a length.
It was back to the drawing board and part of the build-up was that trial on Tuesday morning.
Reduced to just four runners with the scratchings of Jungle King and Silent Force, Knippenberg was, for most of the trip, held together in last spot.
Up in the saddle, newly crowned champion apprentice jockey Yusoff Fadzli was unfazed by the battle upfront between Southern Master and Hurricane Mars.
He must have known he had a good horse beneath him.
So it was, when still in last place with 250m to travel, he peeled his mount wide to go after the leaders.
It was a fruitless exercise, as Manoel Nunes had, on the day, an even better one in Southern Master. They romped in to score by three parts of a length.
That is what the record books will show.
It will also tell you that the six-year-old had beaten the three-year-old.
But it would not tell you that Knippenberg was doing his best work over the concluding stages.
That, he was. Indeed, if there was a vote for the best horse in the trial, Logan’s runner would have garnered plenty of ayes.
Right now, we are not privy to Logan’s plans for her youngster, who races in the colours of the Fortuna NZ Racing Stable.
But it could pay to keep both eyes open for the next time he goes to the races. It could be another photo-taking session for his connections.
As for Southern Master, his day in the sun should come sooner rather than later.
In his trial, he failed by the snap of the fingers to go below the minute mark, clocking 1min 00.54sec for the Poly 1,000m.
Trainer Jason Lim has him in a good place right now and a win in a sprint looks forthcoming.
One horse from Lim’s yard who did break the minute mark on Tuesday morning was Thunder Star.
Another “winner” for Nunes, he came from second at the 600m to mow down debut winner Bransom. He was timed at 59.69sec.
On the line, Thunder Star was 1¼ lengths clear of the Stephen Gray-trained runner, who was ridden by Marc Lerner.
For the record, Bransom also went under a minute, clocking 59.89 for the trip.
Logan’s Luxury Brand, another last-start victor, had to settle for third. A three-time winner from just seven starts, Luxury Brand clocked 1:00.28.
Ask Logan and she will probably say, like Knippenberg, Luxury Brand is a good one to have in the yard.
And so say all of us.
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