where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-05-18 18:12:01  
Katak Takes on Horse of the Year in Kranji Mile

The all-conquering Lim's Kosciuszko may head the ratings in the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) to be run next Saturday, but trainer Ricardo Le Grange’s four-pronged attack – headed by the aptly-named Katak – certainly adds up at the set-weight conditions.

Lim’s Kosciuszko – reigning Horse of the Year and with a rating of 113 – will fittingly carry the number one saddle cloth in next weekend’s feature race, but Katak (108) and stablemate Hongkong Great (107) are the only two other horses with a rating of over 100 from the 17 nominations thus far.

Rocket Star (93) was also well-in at the conditions – all horses will carry 57kgs - while Senor Don (89) completes the Le Grange quartet in one of the biggest races on the Singapore racing calendar.

Nine of the Kranji Mile likely-combatants headed to the trials on Tuesday morning with the Le Grange quartet to the fore. Both Katak and Hongkong Great won in their respective heats.

Katak – with race jockey Vlad Duric aboard – was arguably the pick of the bunch when he won trial no 4 in the time of 59.37secs by five-and-a-quarter lengths over Kranji Mile rival Street of Dreams (Ronnie Stewart), while stablemate Rocket Star (Marc Lerner) ran another half-a-length away in third.

“Very happy,” said Le Grange when asked about the South African-bred son of Potala Palace’s winning trial.

“He (Katak) needed a good blow-out and I couldn’t be more impressed with how he went this morning.

“Obviously, I have the utmost respect for Lim’s Kosciuszko – (trainer) Daniel (Meagher) had him going really well – but I think we have come on since the last time they met and in my humble opinion, he (Katak) is a contender.”

The last time the pair met was in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m) on March 25 under weight-for-age conditions. While Lim’s Kosciuszko was ultra impressive from the way he won eased down by jockey Wong Chin Chuen by two-and-a-half lengths, Katak looked the only danger in the running.

“He has to make up a couple of lengths and I’m very respectful on just how good Lim’s Kosciuszko is, but Vlad was very happy with how he (Katak) has come through that race, which I thought he showed today.

“He (Katak) will have a quiet gallop on Tuesday and if he stays trouble free till before the big race, I think he will be at his best in the (Kranji) Mile on Saturday week.”

From the same trial, Le Grange thought Rocket Star was as good as anything on the day and suggested that the son of Star Witness’ last run – when he finished a well-beaten 10th behind Super Salute in the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1400m) – was better than it looked.

“The gate (13) got the better of him that day but (jockey) Bernardo (Pinheiro) jumped off and said the run was good,” he said.

“The Frenchman (Lerner) also knew as he asked me straight after the race if the Kranji Mile ride was available, and I’m happy to have him on.

“I thought his trial was nice as he matched Street Of Dreams to the wire and we know how good he (Street Of Dreams) is on his day.

“I like the fact that he (Rocket Star) will be the underdog again – he always is! People forgot that he was only beaten half-a-length in this race two years ago (2021 Kranji Mile won by Minister).

“He doesn’t run too many bad races, so don’t discount him.”

Hongkong Great – who often makes the running in races – showed he was no “one-trick pony” by coming from off the pace to win trial no 3 in the time of 59.17secs – the fastest time of the morning.

“To be honest, he raced back today by default,” confessed Le Grange of the Chilean-bred son of Lookin At Lucky.

“We thought a few others would go quickly early but they didn’t, so we went for Plan B.

“He got the sit and ran through them nicely. It worked out well and while it will be (barrier) draw-related, it gives Bernardo options.”

Pinheiro agreed and thought that Hongkong Great will run a big race in the Kranji Mile.

“I was very happy with how that worked out,” explained the well-travelled Brazilian jockey after Tuesday’s trial.

“They were supposed to go fast, so I had the handbrake on early. He gave me a very good feeling as he passed in between the other horses and, like Ricardo said, it gives us options.

“I’m very thankful for the ride. He’s a class horse and in good form so I think he will run a super race.”

Of his fourth nominated horse – Senor Don – Le Grange may wait and see how things pan out next week before deciding on where to for the Argentinean son of Senor Candy.

“His trial (beaten two-and-a-half-lengths in the trial won by Hongkong Great) was good enough but he is obviously not in best at (set-weight) conditions,” he said.

“So it’s (the Kranji Mile) yet to be confirmed for him as there are options.”

Singagore Turf Club 

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