Surrey Hills back from rest
Son of Sweynesse calm and steady in first preparatory trial, pleases trainer Jason Ong
If a horse is said to have won on raw ability in his debut, usually more sparks are in store with natural progression and extra polish.
But, after a brilliant all-the-way win despite being a little rough around the edges in a Restricted Maiden (1,100m) on Polytrack in April, Surrey Hills bucked that trend second-up.
Well backed, the speedy customer again led in a Novice race (1,200m) on May 21.
But the then three-year-old was all over the shop. He hung in and out before shortening strides to finish at the rear.
What was meant to be a springboard to the Three-Year-Old features turned into an early exit.
Trainer Jason Ong, whose father part-owns the gelding with Jurong’s Surrey Hills Grocer, actually had a sense of foreboding.
“I’ve always had a bit of an opinion about this horse. We were chasing the 3YO series (1,200m and 1,400m on turf) with him,” he said.
“But I also thought he wasn’t ready to step up in trip. That’s why I ran him in a Novice on grass next.
“He didn’t appreciate it, though. He just wasn’t doing things right.
“He also pulled up a bit shin-sore. That was probably why he ran out.
“After that run, we thought he needed a rest and re-education.”
The son of Sweynesse, for one, showed better poise under Simon Kok in Thursday’s barrier trial.
By instinct, he rolled forward on despatch but came back underneath without reefing and tearing. He wrapped up the casual spin in fourth, unextended and unruffled.
“This is his first trial this prep. He’s doing things well, he’s not running out,” said Ong.
“Mentally, he needs to mature to be able to sit and sprint. So far, he just pings out of the gates and is more of a 1,000m or 1,100m horse.
“But he was a lot more mature today. I told Simon to give him an easy time as he can be quite keen.
“I want to educate him. I think he will appreciate a rider like Simon because he’s got soft hands.
“We’ll take it step by step, find a race before the end of the season.”
Ong had another horse in that trial. Ricvelo (A’isisuhairi Kasim) finished fifth, one length behind.
The stakes were, however, higher for the Singaporean trainer in the previous barrier trial that featured the stable’s top seed So Hi Class (Koh Teck Huat).
The Irish-bred seven-time winner is entered in both the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) on Oct 15 and Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) on Nov 19.
“The way he trialled, I’m confident he can make his mark despite his age, and wear and tear,” he said.