By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
An in-depth pre-race pow wow between trainer and jockey paved the way to Senor Don atoning from his last-start defeat on Saturday.
Ricardo Le Grange and Wong Chin Chuen had to devise a smart strategy to give the on-pace Argentinian-bred a most conservative run from his wide alley (11) in the $85,000 Class 2 race over the Polytrack mile.
And from the South African mentor, an emphasis was also laid on the diminutive chestnut’s gut-busting run matching motors with the leader (Vittoria Perfetta) at his last outing in a similar contest, but in easier Class 3 company two weeks ago. Senor Don struck the front upon straightening but softened up by his early exertions, could not foil the swoopers to still run a close-up fourth to Time Lord.
Well apprised of all the possible scenarios, Wong went in with the do’s and don’ts etched in his mind – and came out with the perfect delivery.
After jostling for an early position behind pacesetters Vittoria Perfetta (Saifudin Ismail) and Super Dynasty (Danny Beasley) and momentarily getting trapped three wide down the backstraight, Wong was able to manoeuvre around to track up in third place.
By which time the warring duo upfront had broken away from the pack leaving Senor Don in a dream stalking role – and Le Grange and Wong chuckling to themselves, in disbelief their well-concocted battle plan was falling into place.
As half-expected, Super Dynasty knocked up shortly after entering the home stretch while Vittoria Perfetta gave his backers hope a bit longer, but was left reeling when Senor Don went on by.
On Line (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) and the well-supported Sacred Croix (Jerlyn Seow) staged a late rally, but Le Grange’s game galloper was already out of reach, holding On Line at bay by half-a-length.
Attacking hard up against the running rails after coming from way off the pace, Sacred Croix finished a creditable third another three parts of a length away. Senor Don ($57) ran the Polytrack mile in 1min 38.3secs, more than two seconds quicker than his only other win at Kranji, in a similar 1600m event on the all-weather last November, but under a pouring rain.
“I had a good discussion with Ricardo about this horse, especially the wide draw,” said Wong.
“Ricardo told me what to do – ride him positive, but we first see how he jumps. Then he told me to commit from there and try and settle behind the speed.
“It’s worked out just nice. The rhythm of the race was suitable, and he also loves this weather and type of ground.
“He kept finding and was the strongest at the finish. Thank you to Ricardo for preparing this horse to perfection for me.”
Le Grange certainly deserves most of the credit, but that didn’t stop the gracious handler from returning the compliment to the former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey at the weigh-in.
“It was a super ride by CC from the wide draw. That’s exactly how I wanted the horse to be ridden,” said Le Grange.
“If he had dropped back after being caught wide, he would have lost the race. He did well to commit to pressing forward.
“This horse is so gutsy and honest as the day is long. It’s great to train a winner for Mr Yong Mee Him of Chelsea Stable,
“I’d also like to thank my track rider Ayie who rides Senor Don every day. He’s not an easy horse to ride.
“It’s just good to have a lovely day at the races.”
Winless since Leatherhead won on January 9, Patrick Shaw’s former right-hand-man indeed enjoyed a great day at the office thanks to a brace. Earlier, the Filipino-owned Rocket Ryane ($22) opened his account with jockey Danny Beasley up in the $20,000 Maiden race over 1100m.
After languishing in the bottom tier with only two winners to show for thus far, Le Grange has now leapfrogged 12 spots to seventh place on the log, but still a big gap behind current leader, reigning champion trainer Michael Clements on 15 winners.