Le Grange’s quartet trial beautifully
Great Command, Pennywise and Katak win, while Hongkong Great finishes a fast second
Trainer Ricardo Le Grange was a very happy man at Kranji on Thursday morning.
Why would he not be?
All his four trial runners in three heats caught the eye. Three of them won and the other finished second for a stable queue-up.
His newcomer, Great Command, showed speed and led throughout in the first of six trials.
Ridden by Danny Beasley, the four-year-old Australian-bred covered the Polytrack 1,000m in 60.49sec on a tight leash.
In Trial 3, his nine-time winner Pennywise camped on the speed and then produced a top sprint under apprentice jockey Krisna Thangamani to win in the fastest time of the morning, 58.92sec.
Stablemate Hongkong Great came from behind to finish a beautiful second, just a head behind. He was ridden by Vlad Duric.
Trainer Tim Fitzsimmons’ dual Group winner and Lion City Cup hopeful Golden Monkey (Jake Bayliss) ran a pleasing third on the pair’s inside.
Le Grange’s last-start winner Katak was the next to impress in Trial 4.
Ridden by Duric, the triple Group 3 winner in South Africa moved up from second to beat the leader Fame Star by half a length in 59.53sec.
Le Grange was naturally rubbing his hands after the trial victories from Pennywise and Katak, both of whom are on course for the two Group 1 features later in the year – the $300,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1,800m on Oct 15 and the $1 million Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m on Nov 19.
“I was very happy with the way they trialled. The jockeys were very happy as well, so the plan is for them to run next week,” said the affable Le Grange.
“There is a Class 1 1,600m race and, then obviously, Katak will be going for the QEII and then the Gold Cup.
“Pennywise, it will depend how he goes. He might follow the same route. But, at this stage, I’ll take it race by race with him.”
Although unbeaten in five starts back home, Katak has had a roller-coaster career at Kranji.
He was brought with the major races in mind but did not live up to his billing. But his last-start win on July 9 after being gelded was a big game changer.
The horse has further improved, based on yesterday’s trial, and Le Grange can only hope that his charge stays focused.
The South African also harbours hopes of his well-travelled but ageing Hongkong Great for the season’s biggies.
Highly rated on 97 points with 25 starts in his native Chile, America and Hong Kong for eight wins from 1,200m to 2,000m, Hongkong Great had a warm-up debut sixth over 1,200m on July 17.
Staying could be his forte but the seven-year-old will bid for the $300,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1,200m first on Sunday week.
“I thought he has improved nicely from his first-up effort, so he will be going to the Lion City. I’ll run him in another 1,200m and then he’ll probably go a Class 1 mile, the QE II and the Gold Cup as well. So I may have two, or maybe three, horses for those big races,” said Le Grange.
“I was very happy with his first-up run. He’d been off for a couple of months and he obviously needed the run from the fitness point of view.
“That run has brought him on and the trial this morning was a very decent trial. Vlad was very happy with him.
“He’s obviously going to be a better horse over further ground. I’m still learning a bit about him and I think another 1,200m will be good for his fitness and, then obviously, stepping him up for the Group 1 races at the end of the year.”
On Great Command, he said: “Nice horse, he’s had a couple of starts in Australia, he’s has had a couple of placings.
“Once again, I’ll play around with his gears. I think he needs a pair of blinkers. Danny was very happy with the way he trialled.
“He’s obviously still a little big in condition, so more than likely one more trial for him and then we’ll look for a race in a couple of weeks’ time.”