Lion City Cup in Fame Star's sights
Job done in the $100,000 Stepitup Stakes on Saturday, top sprinter Fame Star is now being aimed at the $800,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup.
However, with the 1,200m sprint classic still months away on May 23, the connections will be getting into a huddle, deciding on the leadup races for their champ.
''There is really nothing for him. The Lion City Cup is his race, but I really don't know where to run him until then,'' said John O'Hara's assistant trainer, Stephen Crutchley.
''I even thought of going up to 1,400m and dropping him back. I'll have to go through the programme again.''
Taking his connections through Saturday's race, jockey Marc Lerner — who first partnered the John O'Haratrained gelding in the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy race last November — said he was mindful not to put the squeeze too much firstup.
''It's always a pleasure to ride horses like him,'' said the French jockey, who unfortunately begins a double careless riding suspension which will rule him out for six race meetings.
''Steve was very confident. He just told me to do what he likes to do.
''It's his style to get going, but I was careful not to let him go too fast. He was hanging on the rails a bit, but he was too good in the end.''
Too good is perhaps an understatement.
The top sprinter was in a class of his own. There were absolutely no signs of ringrustiness at his racing return after that 12week break.
Rested since November, the speedy USbred son of Twirling Candy had been giving positive signs on the training tracks as well as at two barrier trial wins that he was battleready.
But, up against some handy sorts, the seventime winner was no certainty.
Still, punters sent him out as the $9 favourite — and they proved to be right on the money.
Bouncing straight to the lead from gate No. 4, Fame Star controlled the pace throughout and he again displayed that amazing capacity to go through his gears whenever the pressure is poured on him.
Muraahib tried valiantly, but, as hard as he tried, he could barely put an indent into the margin.
River Radiance (Ruan Maia) came with a late surge through the pack, but Fame Star was safely over the line by ¾ lengths. Muraahib stuck on for third place, another 1 ½ lengths away.'
'He was always going to be vulnerable firstup and, if there was a horse who was going to give us trouble, I knew it'd be River Radiance. He's a decent horse that one,'' said Crutchley.
''He was not really screwed down for the race, but he's a very good horse. We'll see how he pulls up, he will improve from that first run.''
With that eighth win — with last six scored in a row — combined with his six seconds and one third, Fame Star is now just a tick under the $600,000 mark in terms of prizemoney banked in for Constance Cheng of Toast Trusts Stable and USbased Singaporean bloodstock agent Melvyn Ezekiel of Kadima Stable.