Pax Animi bounces back for the biggies

Brown's promising galloper entered for the $1 million Kranji Mile and $500,000 Singapore Derby

After a dismal last-start performance in the Group 2 Stewards' Cup over 1,600m, promising galloper Pax Animi bounced back to his best in the $70,000 Class 3 Division 1 race over 1,400m at Kranji yesterday.

The five-year-old Australian-bred ended up cluttered up in behind in the feature race and was also held up. He eventually beat only two home in the field of 13. He was ridden by jockey Michael Rodd, who was aboard in one of the gelding's two victories from four starts.

But, kept out of trouble this time around by champion jockey Vlad Duric, he sat slightly further than midfield on the outside.

He improved beautifully to sit on a striking spot behind the the leader and favourite Strong N Powerful, the mount of Juan Paul van der Merwe, on straightening.

Loyalty Man, who had champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok astride, challenged Strong N Powerful and they were tussling it out in the last 200m when Pax Animi came storming home.

The $19 chance finished a shade better on the outside to beat Strong N Powerful by half a length.

A tense fight for the minors was waged behind. Strong N Powerful just held a nose advantage on Loyalty Man, who beat stablemate Ocean Crossing (apprentice M Nizar) by the same margin.

The winning time was 1min 23.43sec for the 1,400m on the Short Course A.

Winning trainer Cliff Brown has pencilled the Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1,800m as Pax Animi's main mission this campaign.

"That was a good win, but I think there is still a lot of improvement to come out of this run," said the Australian handler.

"At his last run, he got badly held up in the straight and that was it. If not for that, he could have run a lot closer.

"He wasn't really ready today, but he's a good horse and he's doing a good job. It was also a perfect ride from Vlad, and Michael Rodd was the first to get on the phone to congratulate me.

"We'll quite possibly look at the Derby for him."

The $500,000 Group 1 Singapore Derby is on Sept 6.

Pax Animi is also entered for the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile over 1,600m on Aug 16 but was in 25th place on the order of entry before yesterday's race.

On 73 points, he needs around 10 points to increase his chances of qualifying.