By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Mark Walker has seen too many barrier trial winners not going on with the job when it mattered to read too much into Zac Kasa’s winning turn in such a hit-out on Tuesday morning.
Obviously, the Kiwi mentor would rather see a forward run than the other way round five days from the grey’s $300,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) assignment this Saturday, but a winless run over 13 starts in more than two years does not lend to a surfeit of confidence.
There is also every chance that a record of five barrier trial wins during that barren time might have something to do with the three-time Singapore champion trainer not getting too carried away with Tuesday’s half-length win over stablemate Master Ryker (Saimee Jumaat).
Nonetheless, the hopes of a form turnaround have been given a slight lift after the four-time winner previously trained by Cliff Brown responded to the visors in the best possible way.
“A trial is a trial. He ran okay, but this horse hasn’t won for a long time (since February 17, 2019 in a Class 1 race over 1200m),” said Walker.
“We tried him with visor blinkers just to try something different. As horses get a little older, we have to try something new to change up their routine.
“He went well with them this morning, and hopefully they spark him up on Sunday.
“He arrived in good condition from Cliff. I didn’t have to do a lot to keep him in the same shape.
“He was checked at his last start, he was a bit unlucky.”
While luck can never be taken completely out of the equation, Walker is keen to explore new scenarios to give the Zac Stable-owned galloper every conceivable chance to return to winning ways, and it’s not just the headgear.
“He’s had two runs for me and both times, he was ridden forward, but there will be plenty of speed this time. We may have to sit back,” said Walker.
“Hopefully the race will be run to suit. On his day, he’s very capable, but whether he puts in 100% on the day, we’ll wait and see.”
Leading jockey Marc Lerner for one is hoping to bounce back from that chequered run at Zac Kasa’s last start when the gaps vanished at a crucial time.
“He ran a nice trial this morning. The horse is fit but he’s running against some smart sprinters,” said the French jockey.
“We all know what happened at his last start, he needs to get cover to have a better chance. I’m also hoping for a smoother and clearer run this time.”
Zac Kasa will be at his fourth Lion City Cup raid. His best result was a second place to Lim’s Cruiser in 2018, but he was far from disgraced at the last two – a narrow third to Aramco in 2019 and a closing fourth to then-stablemate Inferno last year in October.