By Michael Lee – STC
Sunday’s Lucky Last was heralded all week as the race not to be missed and the stunning way even-money Grand Koonta gapped his rivals didn’t disappoint its billing.
Atfer enjoying a comfortable transit in a one-out one-back position in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m, the four-year-old Irish-bred had not spent a penny yet. The moment first-time partner Michael Rodd pushed the ‘go’ button at the 400m pole, the rest had no time to blink.
The grey flash by Dark Angel exploded away with a sizzling acceleration that left his 11 rivals spreadeagled in a heartbeat.
The spanking could have been harsher if not for Rodd sitting up to pose for the camera 50m out, but Grand Koonta still clocked a new Class record of 1min 9.49secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
Lizaz (Iskandar Rosman) won the battle for minors three lengths away with Oxbow Sun (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) third another three parts of a length away.
Grand Koonta, who scored one win (1219m) at Windsor in England when prepared by leading Lambourn trainer Clive Cox, has not been seen at Kranji since his impressive second-up win in a Class 4 Division 1 race over 1200m on March 1.
Trainer James Peters has not been rushing that new exciting prospect from China Horse Club, aware of the plethora of opportunities that could be peeking over the horizon if the cards are played right.
Even after his new ward won with such ease, the soft-spoken English handler would not get too carried away yet.
“He reproduced what he showed on the tracks. He’s been working well,” said Peters.
“He could become a nice horse in the future. He travelled so well today and I was quite confident he would win.”
That confidence could have been dented during the race if Peters had been aware Grand Koonta sustained a cut in the running. It was only realised when he returned to scales.
“I hope the cut is not so serious,” said Peters.
“I would probably look for a Class 3 race over 1200m for him next. There’s one coming up in three or four weeks’ time.”
There is every chance Rodd might then have to hand the ride back to his regular partner Daniel Moor, who is serving a suspension, but while it lasted, the leading Australian jockey certainly enjoyed every second as the saddle-warmer, though the cut setback did mar the result a little.
“He was very impressive. Unfortunately, he has such an overreaching action and covers so much ground that I think he cut himself,” said Rodd, who had this mixture of emotions going through him at the post-race interview.
“He doesn’t really switch off, does he? He just wants to race all the time.”
In two wins and one second from three outings, Grand Koonta has already returned more than $65,000 in stakes money for the China Horse Club.