By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Up-and-coming galloper Bluestone came with a flying finish to stamp his raw class at his first race back from a short break on Saturday.
The Hallowed Crown three-year-old has not reappeared since his fifth place to star stablemate Inferno in the Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes (1200m) for three-year-olds in November.
Trainer Cliff Brown was not too worried about his fitness level going into his comeback race, the $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1200m, but did express some concerns over his lack of early pace even if he does get going in his barrier trials.
The Australian conditioner would have been on tenterhooks when Bluestone was anchored right at the back by jockey Michael Rodd from the jump, posted on a three-wide path while Bright Sun (Hakim Kamaruddin) dictated terms upfront.
The only silver lining was he had some cover in the form of Bionics (Azhar Ismail) three lengths ahead, and when he swung out the widest at the top of the straight, the signs which way the race would swing couldn’t be more ominous.
He didn’t quite ping at will, his gauche gait as Rodd endeavoured to switch him on the right leg no doubt the cause, but once that was addressed, there was no halting his blistering acceleration.
Donning Brown’s Tarnpirr Stable colours, Bluestone gathered in his rivals in the twinkling of an eye for what was in the end a soft win by one length from Romantic (Ruan Maia). Bright Almighty (Marc Lerner) ran third another neck away.
Bluestone firmed into $7 late following the late scratching of the well-backed Sacred Judgement (Benny Woodworth) at the barriers. The winning time was 1min 9.96secs or the 1200m on the Long Course.
“I don’t know what it is about this horse. On trial day, he is up on the pace but on raceday, he has no speed,” said Brown.
“Today, there was too much speed on his inside, and he came back and he was too good in the end. I’ll probably run him over 1400m next.
“With the 3YO series pushed back later, I’m not sure what we’ll do next. It’s either one more run or a break, we’ll see.”
Originally slated between March and May, the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge has for the first time been moved to a later timeslot in June-July, with the first Leg, the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) due on June 13.
With Rodd already glued to Inferno’s saddle, the plum ride on Bluestone in the 3YO series is likely to draw a long line of suitors. For now, Rodd was just happy he got to enjoy the ride on a sparring partner he described as a “beautiful horse”.
“He actually began really well today, but I decided to let him just come back,” said the Australian ace.
“When Willy Pike rode him the last time (in the Saas Fee Stakes), he told me he really wished he didn’t take him out of his comfort zone.
“It was a messy race today. He was four to five wide with cover, but he went through his gears really well.
“To me, he feels more like a miler because of the way he settles and finds the line. He’s still got a funny bounding action, though, he keeps changing his legs.
“But he’s a beautiful horse and he will win races in Singapore for a long time. I really like him, he’s a nice horse going forward.”
Bluestone is now the recipient of close to $120,000 in prizemoney from his smart record of three wins and one second from five starts for the Bluestone Stable.