Red Ocean gets his way, makes amends
Trainer Baertschiger rekindles plans for the Group 1 Singapore Derby after emphatic win
Last-start $8 beaten favourite Red Ocean reversed his fortunes via an impressive trial victory to make amends with consummate ease at Kranji on Saturday.
On Nov 27, the final day of the 2021 Singapore racing season, the Shane Baertschiger-trained four-year-old wanted to lead but was unable to cross in and was caught wide. He ended up dead-last.
With tons of improvement and a soft lead on Saturday, he gave jockey Matthew Kellady an armchair ride in the $70,000 Kranji Stakes C race over 1,600m on turf.
The MA Racing & Hi Vis Stable-owned gelding romped home by 21/4 lengths in 1min 37.71sec. He paid $9 for a win.
Bold plans now beckon. Baertschiger is plotting a path towards the prestigious Singapore Derby.
The Group 1 feature over 1,800m on July 17 was a bit of a no-brainer as the ultimate goal for the son of Ocean Park, after his three all-the-way wins over 1,400m last year.
His last one in Class 4 company on Nov 6 was particularly awesome. He bolted home by more than five lengths.
That high moment was somewhat deflated after he blotted his resume in the Kranji Stakes B race over 1,600m.
Despite the small field of eight runners, he ended up in no man’s land, four wide throughout, before he eventually finished a long last. He was beaten by 181/2 lengths.
Baertschiger was prepared to forget he ran that day, as did punters, as evidenced by his short quote as the $9 favourite in the five-horse field. Stablemate King’s Command was withdrawn because of colic.
Unlike his last-start faux pas, Red Ocean was the only speed influence this time, not to mention he also drew better in Gate 2.
He had a gaggle of on-pace speedsters kicking up on his inside from his wide alley in his last start. That never gave him a chance of coming across or tucking in for cover.
The two races would turn out to be like night and day.
As expected, the lead was secured easily on Saturday, after which Kellady slammed on the brakes and Red Ocean duly dropped his head and put his rivals to sleep.
On Line (Marc Lerner) tried to wake up early, but the moderate mid-race sectionals had him on the back foot. The other danger, Special Ops (Zyrul Nor Azman), was scrambling to extricate himself out of a pocket on the fence.
Up front, Red Ocean easily shook Vittoria Perfetta (Saifudin Ismail) off upon straightening. Under hands and heels urging, except for a few late taps as a reminder, he never faltered.
Special Ops was given every chance to take a gap and challenge when it presented, but stayed one-paced to just snatch second place from On Line by a short head.
“He runs his best races when he bowls along in front. Today, he jumped straight to the front and the race was pretty much all over midway,” said Baertschiger.
“At his last start, things just didn’t go his way, and I was confident he could bounce back today. He had the race won from a long way.
“I think he still has got some improvement in him. I’ll probably give him a month off now.
“He’s my Derby horse and I’ll now get him ready for that race.”
In nine starts, Red Ocean has chalked up a smart record of four wins for more than $150,000 in prize money for his owners.
Baertschiger reported that King’s Command’s colic was just a blip which the talented Tavistock five-year-old has fortunately already set aside.
“It was luckily just a mild colic. He was okay the next day,” he said.
“We won’t see him till February, and depending on how he goes, I may look at the Kranji Mile for him.”
The Group 1 Kranji Mile over 1,600m has been slated as the first feature race of the Singapore season this year, with the $1 million showpiece scheduled for May 21.
King’s Command last raced in the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000m. He gave them too big a start and could run on only tamely under apprentice jockey Simon Kok for eighth to Lim’s Lightning, despite the 8kg pull in weights.
“He drops back but he was not well ridden last start, he was too far back. With only 50kg on his back, he should have been closer in midfield,” said Baertschiger.
“If he had run today, he would have been fresh-up. The distance would have been a bit short but it would have suited first-up.”
Baertschiger is joint-second with Daniel Meagher on four winners in the trainers’ premiership. Their fellow Australian Tim Fitzsimmons is leading with five winners.