By Michael Lee – Singapore Turf Club
Now that the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge is back, trainer Shane Baertschiger can sharpen his knives better for useful sprinter-miler Be Bee.
Before the news of its discontinuation was made last November, the famed series had all along been a long-term goal for the son of Showcasing even if after a thumping first-up win as a four-year-old, he could not muster the same performance at his next two starts at Group level, the Group 3 Garden City Trophy (1200m) and the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1400m).
But Baertschiger knew the reason behind the ordinary runs. It can basically be summed up by the saying ‘too much of a good thing can be a bad thing’.
The Australian said that going into his comeback run, the Auric Stable-owned galloper carried too much condition, which instead of being managed effectively, was wasted through too little time crunched in between runs.
A quick regroup and the former juvenile champion has bounced back better than ever. A resounding first-up win in a Class 1 race over 1200m on January 18 before steaming home late in a similar race one month later, only to come up short behind the smart Zac Kasa.
As Be Bee was lowly-weighted at both starts, he was ridden by lightweight jockey Ben Thompson. With Baertschiger’s decision to drop him back in Class 2 company in Sunday’s $85,000 race over 1400m, stable jockey John Powell is restored back in the driving seat given Be Bee will be the topweight at 57kgs in the 14-horse race.
“He’s back from Class 1 to Class 2 and JP will be back on him this Sunday,” said Baertschiger.
“All’s good with him. He doesn’t need much to get fit; he galloped yesterday and it was a nice blowout to top him off.
“He’s had two runs over 1200m this year, but he’s looking for the 1400m now.
“Obviously, now that the 4YO series is back, we will be focusing on that for him. That new first Leg race over 1400m (Group 3 Silver Bowl on June 9) is what we will be aiming him at and we’ll then take it race by race.”
The Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge was discontinued after the second Leg, the newly-named Group 1 Charity Cup (1600m) was axed, but based on feedback received from various industry participants, it was decided to reinstate the series with the Silver Bowl the new kick-off point.
Thereafter, the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) will be staged on June 30 followed by the grand final, the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 21.
Baertschiger also saddles old stager Blue Swede in Sunday’s Class 2 race, saying that this may well be the rising nine’s swansong campaign.
“It’s his first time in Class 2 in a long time (since December 2015 when he actually won in his trademark last-to-first style),” said Baertschiger, who also owns the eight-time-winning son of O’Reilly.
“He just came back from a wind op. It’s the first time he’s had this problem.
“But he’s in good form. He just ran fourth at his last barrier trial (February 28), only one length off Debt Collector.
“That’s probably his last prep, and we may retire him soon.”
Baertschiger will probably miss the quirky gelding who could be brilliant one day just like he could completely fall by the wayside at the next, but the legacy won’t be gone completely.
An unregistered half-brother of his (out of the same dam Hooked Ona Feeling and by Sacred Falls) is getting the last finishing touches from Baertschiger towards his racing debut at Kranji.
Blue Swede also has a full brother O’What A Feeling, who is not half as brilliant but has still proven to be a handy moneyspinner for Baertschiger and the GPI Racing Stable with three wins and eight placings for more than $200,000 in stakes earnings.