Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Sky Rocket makes his much-awaited racing comeback a nicely freshened horse in the $175,000 Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) this Sunday.
Trainer Stephen Gray has given the promising stayer in the making all the time in the world to get back on his game after his last unplaced start in the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1600m) in December.
At his penultimate start, the four-time winner (1200m to 1600m) ran seventh to Elite Invincible in the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m).
To the Kiwi handler, the Darci Brahma five-year-old was luckless at both defeats, even sticking his neck out to say that he could have won the Colonial Chief Stakes.
“He should have won the last race on Polytrack. He was stuck on the fence,” said Gray.
“He was also unlucky in the Gold Cup, he jumped off that fallen horse (Noah From Goa). Still, he was a very promising horse last year at his first campaign.
“We gave him a good spell up at the spelling station, we took our time with him. The owners (from Sabah) are very understanding and sensible.
“We’ve not run him as the handicap races are on. He’ll be nice and fresh in the Jumbo Jet and it’s the man of the moment, Joseph Azzopardi, who will ride him.”
The young Australian jockey landed his biggest win with Sun Marshal in the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on Sunday.
“Ben Thompson was meant to ride him as he’s ridden him in all his trackwork and trials,” said Gray who has yet to win the Jumbo Jet Trophy.
“But unfortunately, Ben is on a big bus tour (three careless riding suspensions amounting to nine meetings) at the moment. I was lucky to get Joe.
“The horse has meant to return in a Class 2 race over 1400m three weeks ago, but it was cancelled as there weren’t enough runners.
“I had no other choice but to wait. A race would have made him come on, and that’s why we trialled him last week (July 16).”
The progressive Easy Does It is another Gray entry in the Jumbo Jet Trophy, but he said that the Super Easy four-year-old was badly-weighted and would not run.
Gray is also still busy on the English front with Lim’s Cruiser left up there after two unplaced but laudable runs, and looking at a couple of options in a bid to win at least one race there.
“We’ll pay up for the second nomination for the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday. It’s a Group 2 race but is close to a Group 1,” said Gray of the 1400m race at Glorious Goodwood next Tuesday.
“We might also look at the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes (1400m) at Newbury on August 16. I was told it’s an easier race.
“Lim’s Cruiser is doing great. He’s thrived since his last run (sixth in the Darley July over 1200m at Newmarket on July 13).
“We are also looking at bringing him back for the Raffles Cup (Group 1 race over the mile on September 22), bearing in mind he will have to come out of international quarantine.”
Irish jockey John Egan, who partnered Lim’s Cruiser in the Darley July Cup, looks set to stay on right through the UK campaign. Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric flew up to ride Lim’s Cruiser at his maiden English start (eighth) in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) at Royal Ascot on June 22.
“Johnny fell in a race at Windsor yesterday. His horse (Twpswn) clipped heels with his own son David’s horse (Goodwood Sonnet) in the straight!” said Gray.
“He’s all right, he’ll be fine for the ride if Lim’s Cruiser gets in.”