By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Progressive miler Quadcopter gave another proof at Tuesday’s barrier trials that he can jump on terms when he’s in the right frame of mind.
A tardy getaway – his sixth offence in 21 starts – snuffed out any chance of a top-three finish at his last run in a Class 3 event over 1400m on January 30. He tried to rail through midrace, but he eventually plodded on in ninth place to Augustano.
Trainer Hideyuki Takaoka said the five-time winner (all on turf between 1200m and 1400m) had excuses that day.
“He stayed too long in the barriers and there was a horse who was fractious next to him. That probably upset him,” said the Japanese handler.
“At his next start, I will make sure he is the last horse to go in.”
Takaoka has targeted next Saturday’s all-Polytrack meeting in the Class 3 event run over 1100m as that race, even if the course and distance are not exactly Quadcopter’s favourites.
“It’s a bit short, but no choice, the programme doesn’t have anything over the mile and it’s all Polytrack racing until the second week of March,” he said.
“But Class 3 races usually have strong fields and are very fast. Hopefully he can use his turn of foot to finish it off.”
In that respect, Takaoka was really taken by the Zoustar five-year-old’s closing sectionals in the barrier trial he won narrowly on Tuesday.
After punching the breeze three wide under regular partner Marc Lerner, Quadcopter was allowed free rein into the home straight where he effortlessly collared leader Darc Bounty (Cheah Wei Wen) before poking his nose in front right on the line.
“That was a very good trial. He ran on without Marc asking him to do too much,” said Takaoka.
The French jockey said Quadcopter might not have looked as dominant as at his previous trial win (before his last race) when a three-length victor, but he still turned in a pleasing performance.
“He trialled more impressively last time, but when you compare the times, they’re actually about the same (1min 0.04sec and 1min 0.07sec),” said Lerner.
“It’s a horse I ride every day. I really like him, he’s super genuine and has plenty of potential.
“I’ve won three times on him, with Olivier (Placais), who also thought highly of him, and CC (Chin Chuen) Wong the other two to have won on him.
“The only time he’s not in the money is when he misses his start. Barriers and Quadcopter are not made for each other, that’s just the way he is, he won’t change.
“At his last start, he missed the kick, and normally when that happens, the race is as good as over, but he still ran well.
“This morning, he jumped okay. He’s improved a lot, and it’s (assistant-trainer) Ryo (Hatano) who does the bulk of the work with him at the barriers, I do nothing, I’m just the passenger.”
Lerner hopes Quadcopter can make amends at his next start, confident the Polytrack is not such an impedance contrary to what his track record may suggest.
“He raced on Polytrack only once and he ran third, only 0.8 length off the winner (Sacred Don),” said Lerner who was aboard in that Class 4 race over 1200m last August.
“To me, he moves very well on Polytrack. He’s actually better on a wet track.
“He’s a horse with a lot of pace. On a good day, he’s very honest, you just have to hope he doesn’t fly up like a helicopter at the start!”
On 79 points, Quadcopter is Takaoka’s third highest-rated horse after 2018 Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) winner Jupiter Gold (101) and 2019 Group 1 Raffles Cup (1600m) winner Makanani (83).
“Quadcopter is one of my better horses, but for now, he doesn’t have enough ratings to make it for the bigger races. We’ll see how he goes,” said Takaoka.
Should Quadcopter, who is also raced by Jupiter Gold’s owner Kaz Hosaka, not pass muster against better quality horses, Takaoka can still count on his two stalwarts, even if the reports are mixed at this stage.
“Makanani ran on well (fifth to Sacred Croix) last Saturday. She’s looking for more ground,” said Takaoka.
“Unfortunately for Jupiter Gold, he had a small injury after his last run (on December 27, 2020). He had a small fracture in his right hind and needed rest.
“Luckily, he’s recovered and we are now hand-walking him. He should be back in trackwork next month.”
Takaoka is waiting on a confirmation of the 2021 feature race line-up and their dates before committing to a training programme for any horse who is Group race material.
“Makanani seems to be coming along nicely for the big races, but we need to know when they’ll be run first,” he said.