Leatherhead claims Poly mile record
Trainer Le Grange dedicates the win to former boss Patrick Shaw's dad who died on Friday
In wet but cool conditions, Kranji cheered in a new record holder on Saturday, when Leatherhead sliced 0.19sec off the 1,600m Polytrack record.
The feat came in Race 7 and, just three weeks after Super Dynasty had equalled the record when winning the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes on Dec 19.
Until then, Tiger Force had sole possession of the mark which he set in 2019.
In winning the $50,000 race, Leatherhead clocked 1min 37.45sec.
Winning trainer Ricardo Le Grange was evidently pleased he now has a new record holder in his barn - more so, when old stager Mighty Emperor's last-grasp second in the Class 4 race handed the South African a nice quinella.
However, the celebrations were somehow muted.
It was on Friday that Le Grange learnt that his former mentor Patrick Shaw's father had passed away in South Africa.
With Le Grange as his right-hand man right through, Shaw trained with great success at Kranji from 2001 to 2016, claiming the Singapore champion trainer's title in 2011 and was, of course, made famous both here and internationally by that iconic sprinting star Rocket Man.
"Leatherhead's record-breaking win was just fantastic, both for me and the owner Rudy Mendoza, who has become a great supporter of mine and of Singapore racing," said Le Grange.
"It's a well-deserved accolade for both the horse and Rudy, and how not to mention Ruan Maia's strike rate on Polytrack, which is just outstanding.
"Good old Mighty Emperor making it a 1-2 for us is such a lovely bonus.
"But, all this is put in perspective with the sad news that Pat's dad Bernie passed away. I've known Bernie and I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact he's not with us any more. So, this one's for you, Bernie."
Back to that record-breaking run, Maia had his mount sitting pretty in third spot when the runners sorted themselves out.
There he stayed, allowing Alexander Horatio and Asaad to trade blows in front. Leatherhead was fourth with 600m to travel but, once they had fanned out for the run home, he was the horse you wanted to have your money on.
The chestnut was travelling beautifully and he soon had Asaad - the mount of apprentice jockey Hakim Kamaruddin - in his sights. There and then, the result was a foregone conclusion. The frontrunners were sitting ducks.
Given his full head by Maia, the Helmet five-year-old cleared out to an emphatic 23/4-length win from his fast-closing stablemate Mighty Emperor (Juan Paul van der Merwe), who just pipped Asaad for the perfect Le Grange result.
Until Saturday's record-breaking performance, the five-year-old had just one win to show from 16 race starts. That was in September last year and it was also over the 1,600m on the Polytrack.
With that second win, Leatherhead has banked in close to $100,000 for his connections. And since there's more where this last one came from, Le Grange and Mendoza could be having a lot of fun with their new record holder.