Singapore gets under the radar and Sire De Grugy is back to his best

The flat racing at Lingfield caught my eye for a change, and although nowhere near to perfect, I wasn’t too far away from calling the races half right at the very least.

The sprints are always difficult to calculate, wherever in the racing World, with no statistical draw bias (apparently), yet those drawn high using the draw to explain below par runs – go figure? Rivellino hadn’t raced since last July but was well backed on course down to 5/1 at the off, so someone knew he was fit enough even if I didn’t. Drawn two he took the shortest route possible to get to the front where it mattered and saw off Glen Moss (my selection, who was drawn ten) by a head, but was always doing enough to see off the runner up. Both look worth following on the polytrack until the better horses appear on the turf, and given a better draw I am not convinced Martyn Meade’s six year old will not exact his revenge, but he will need to win a fast track qualifier to guarantee his place in the field on Good Friday.

Grandeur in action – I am convivinced he is better than we saw on Saturday

Two races later we had the Winter Derby trial, but those who backed 2014 winner Grandeur early must have been wary of their fate as he took a walk in the market all morning before late support saw him sent off a pretty uneasy 2/1 favourite despite the assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle. He was short of room close home which almost certainly cost him third, but I rather doubt he would have got to Grendisar regardless. Sent to the front at the last moment by Martin Harley for Newmarket trainer Marco Botti, he then had to fight off the late lunge of Lamar who ran a blinder (and will be punished by the handicapper accordingly), to take the £25,000 first prize. Barring injury he will no doubt be back for the real thing yet I suspect Grandeur may well have needed this run – don’t be too surprised if he reverses this form when it really matters for the bigger prize.

Trainer Gary Moore – must have been delighted with Sire De Grugy at Chepstow

Under the heading of “couldn’t have been more wrong”, I need to make a mention of Sire De Grugy who ran an amazing Queen Mother Champion Chase trial at Chepstow on Saturday. As I was convinced he was coming here to make sure he got a much needed run ahead of Cheltenham, had to give masses of weight away all round, and would have any fitness issues questioned by the heavy ground, I went looking elsewhere for the winner before being made to look even more stupid than normal. Not only did he won but he did so impressively, cruising along in behind admittedly inferior opponents before being given his head and drawing away under a “proper” ride that will have blown away any cobwebs. If Sprinter Sacre is not at his best then Gary Moore will expect this top class nine year old to follow up his 2014 success and on the evidence of this run that is a pretty likely scenario.

Elsewhere over the jumps, the most interesting thing I noted was that super star Irish trainer Willie Mullins had six winners over the weekend – with no winners. It is a bit early to start worrying about the stable form ahead of the battles with the bookmakers at Cheltenham but the warning signs will at least have me watching the stables runners with even more interest than normal, though it needs to be mentioned that the big guns are probably back home wrapped up in the warm, and just ticking over for the next few weeks

Meanwhile, I have always been a great Champion of International racing, yet the richest race ever run in Singapore attracted precious little attention in the British press this Sunday. No British runners gave them a great excuse I suppose, though that was only half right as Newmarket trainer Roger Varian did have Bajan in the race, even if it was his first run for the yard since moving from ex Newmarket trainer Simon Callaghan, who now plies his trade in the USA. Sponsored as part of the Chinese Equine Cultural Festival by the China Horse Club, this was a big deal bringing together a heady mix of art, culture. Equine sport, and charity in two days of networking that culminated in the richest race held in 173 years at Kranji racecourse. Jamie Spencer was riding, as was Christophe Soumillon, Darryll Holland, and others, while French trainers Nicholas Clement and Francis Graffard saw the bigger picture and sent Ming Zhi Cosmos and Summer Surprice respectively. Sadly, third and eighth were all they could manage as Christophe Soumillon took even money favourite Passanda to the front where it mattered for a very easy win for American trainer Christopher Clement, with the similarity in names more than a touch confusing, though he is French by birth as well to be fair. Reality suggested it was always just a matter of time before China took a more serious interest in horse racing as they expand in to the more luxurious and prestigious industry, and with the likes of Coolmore and the Singapore turf Club involved here, it was always going to be just a solitary step on a long journey that some of hope will eventually tie up a serious, acknowledged, and successful International racing series that pits the very best form each continent against each other in realistic timescales so we can really see just how good each nations’ horses are?


Sean Trivass would like to thank CECF and the Singapore turf Club for their help with this article.




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