Katak, Rocket Star set for Kranji Mile, Latest Racing News

In a trial which could easily have been passed off as the main event of any weekend racecard, flashy Katak beat the very talented Rocket Star to the honours, with four-time winner Strong N Best finishing third.

Also in the field, which contested Trial 2, were Golden Flame, Big Tiger and Ablest Ascend who, between them, have shared 14 wins.

What a line-up. What a trial.

In all, the seven who faced the starter on that sunny Tuesday morning had collectively won 24 races at Kranji.

As expected, when egos collide, there was plenty of posturing before, during and, if I may hazard a guess, even as the horses trotted back to their barns.

With a rating of 102 points, Katak was a menacing figure behind the gates.

What more, with Manoel Nunes in the saddle.

Stablemate Rocket Star had Jake Bayliss doing the navigating, while John Sundradas was astride the Kuah Cheng Tee-trained Strong N Best.

With just three trials being contested that morning, this hit-out garnered plenty of interest and it lived up to its billing.

My Man, who has had two unplaced runs at Kranji but is being groomed for bigger things, set a cracking pace and led from Ablest Ascend and Katak.

Strong N Best made a move and stayed glued to Rocket Star at the 600m mark, where My Man – a winner of four quality races in Argentina – dropped out of the fray.

Nunes took Katak widest when the field straightened. From there, they fashioned a run.

Katak, striding out freely, easily overwhelmed Strong N Best. 

Like a hot knife through butter, he soon put daylight between himself and the rest.

A furlong out, Rocket Star got going. But it was game over.

Katak was home and hosed. He took the trial with two lengths to spare from his stablemate, who lost no marks when taking the runner-up spot.

The pair, who are trained by Ricardo Le Grange, are being groomed for the big one coming up on Saturday week.

That is the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile and what a race it promises to be.

Already a two-time winner this season, Katak ran a shocker in his last start on April 30.

He finished last in that 1,400m race won by Gold Star in course record time.

But there were excuses. He finished with cuts on both his hind legs.

Well, from what we saw of him at the trials, Le Grange and the Singapore Turf Club vets have patched him up real well. He looks ripe and ready to show off in the first feature of the year.

Rocket Star, the punters’ third pick in last year’s Kranji Mile which was won by Minister, could only run into “bronze” placing in that edition.

But he knows what it is all about and Le Grange has charted a nice passage into the race for this five-year-old son of Star Witness.

Le Grange and Nunes paired off again in the last trial, which saw Everest score a fluent win.

Again, it was a stable quinella, with Superlative – the mount of Krisna Thangamani – slotting in for second spot.

A four-year-old entire, who arrived unraced in January last year, Everest has raced seven times for two wins, two seconds and a third.

He has yet to make an appearance this season. But he has not been having a picnic in his stall. Le Grange has sent him for three trials, including the one on Tuesday when he clocked 61.50sec.

Will he need a run – or two – before he can be ready to salute again?

Maybe not. After all, Everest won on debut, after being dormant for over six months. It tells us that he races well when fresh.

So, mark him down as a horse to follow. He is, as they say, ready, willing and able.

Tuesday’s Kranji barrier trial results:

1 Sacred Croix (R Shafiq)
2 Super Impact (J Bayliss)
3 Time Lord 4 Wealth Elite (WH 
Kok) 5 Tiger Leap (R Stewart)
6 Eight Ball (CC Wong)
Margins and time: Shd, 2 3/4, 1/2, 6 1/2, 3 1/4 (1min 01.46sec)

1 Katak (M Nunes)
2 Rocket Star (Bayliss)
3 Strong N Best (S John)
4 My Man (O Chavez)
5 Ablest Ascend (Stewart)
6 Golden Flame (K Hakim)
7 Big Tiger (Wong)
Margins and time: 2, 1/2, 1 1/4, Shd, 2 3/4, shd (1:00.38)

1 Everest (Nunes)
2 Superlative (T Krisna)
3 Mariana Trench (Stewart)
4 Rocket Ryane (Bayliss)
5 Try Mak Mak 6 Prodigal 
(M Lerner) 7 Royal Return (Chavez) 8 Deception (Hakim)
Margins and time: 1 1/4, 1 1/2, nk, 1/2, 1/2, hd, 1 1/2 (1:01.50)

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