Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
The trick to Pennywise is to keep him fresh and happy, never mind if that has been happening more by default than by design, says trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
Five to six months ago, the Polytrack specialist was running in feature races which were not made to suit.
The South African handler has since gone back to basics and the Argentinian-bred four-year-old has bucked the trend with performances that did his ability more justice.
The last of his seven wins (all on Polytrack) in a Class 2 speed dash on September 13 was particularly pleasing.
No suitable race has come up since, until this Sunday’s $85,000 Class 2 race over 1200m on Polytrack, for a six-week interval which may seem long to some, but which is to Le Grange just nice.
“It’s been six weeks between runs. There aren’t many races available for him and that’s why we can then space his races more,” said Le Grange.
“We have to wait for those Class 1 and 2 races and the good space in between helps him to stay sound and fresh. That keeps him in a happy space.
“I was very happy with his trial last week (last Thursday when he won narrowly). I think keeping him on sand was also the right thing to do.”
With last-start winning partner Krisna Thangamani currently serving consecutive careless riding bans, Le Grange has called upon Thompson to do the steering duties on the son of Pure Prize for the first time.
“Ben Thompson has been galloping hm in trackwork. He told me he felt in great order,” said Le Grange.
Pennywise has drawn marble one and will be competing against on-par opposition made up of the likes of Augustano, Nowyousee and Muraahib, but Le Grange has not surrendered the idea of seeing the Bernard Kantor-owned galloper pick up a ‘black type’ race one day.
“I may set him for the (Group 3) New Year Cup next year,” he said.
“It’s a race that Pat (Le Grange’s former mentor Patrick Shaw) has won four times when it was run over 1900m. He won with Escamonda (2011), Lizarre (2013), Quechua (2015) and Perfect P (2016).
“It’s now a Polytrack sprint race over 1200m. Still, Pennywise will have to win on Sunday for his rating to get up a bit more so he can get in.
“If he runs and wins, it’ll be a nice way to start the new season with a bang.”
Speaking of the future, Le Grange is upbeat with the way his stable has slowly been overhauled in order to face the ever-growing competition at Kranji.
“Things are looking up. I bought seven two-year-olds at the Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale on the Gold Coast for a mixture of existing owners like Rodney Too and Rudy Mendoza and some new owners as well,” he said.
“I met new owners from the Philippines at the sale and I’m very thankful for their support. It’s very important to go out there and meet new people.”