Quechua steps it up for HK
Kranji barrier trials
Hong Kong-bound QUECHUA stepped up his preparation for Sunday week's HK$16.5 million ($3 million) LONGINES Hong Kong Vase with an easy trial win at Kranji yesterday morning.
Ridden by race-jockey Barend Vorster, the Patrick Shaw-trained champion stayer dropped back last early, about four lengths off the leaders Lizaz and Siamese Cat. Yue Yuan was third.
There were only four runners following the scratching of Laser Storm and the withdrawal of Captain Classique, who reared up repeatedly and was taken out of the barrier and then the trial.
The incident in the starting stall stirred up Quechua a bit, as he too was getting a bit frisky. Luckily, Quechua calmed down and the trial got under way.
Vorster shook Quechua up slightly at the bend to stay closer to the leaders and closed into two lengths behind Lizaz and Siamese Cat on straightening.
Quechua got up to the leading pair in the final 200m and then drew away to beat Lizaz by two-and-a-quarter lengths. He clocked a moderate 1min 02.06sec.
The Argentinian-bred will leave for Hong Kong on Monday, accompanied by Shaw's able deputy of many years, Ricardo Le Grange, who has been granted a licence by the Malayan Racing Association and stables by the Singapore Turf Club.
Shaw had said that Quechua didn't need much to do as he ran in the Dester Singapore Gold Cup over 2,200m only about a fortnight ago. He reckoned Quechua would stay all day and was sure his charge would do his best in Hong Kong.
After all, Quechua is one of the best stayers at Kranji, with eight successes, including the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup in 2014 and the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby over 2,000m last year.
Shaw is no stranger to Hong Kong racing.
In 2010, he brought Rocket Man there and his celebrity galloper dead-heated with Hong Kong's One World in the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint over 1,200m.
Three weeks later, Rocket Man went agonisingly close in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint over the same trip. He was beaten by a mere short head by South Africa's JJ The Jet Plane.
Rocket Man, who was Singapore's first International Group 1 winner when capturing the Dubai Golden Shaheen in 2011, finished unplaced in his second Hong Kong Sprint attempt.
For his achievements and putting Singapore on the world racing map, Rocket Man will be honoured with a farewell parade at Kranji on Sunday.