Koh awaits first Saturday warm-up for better Power gauge

Former jockey Lee Soo Hin (now assistant-trainer to Desmond Koh) gives Danny Beasley a leg-up on Sun Power at the barrier trials last Thursday.

By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club

The first Kranji tune-ups of Listed winner Sun Power have not yet given the sneak peeks of the much-vaunted engine trainer Desmond Koh and jockey Danny Beasley were hoping to see, but both are prepared to give him a bit more time.

On his promising Australian record when known as Power Scheme and trained by David Hayes (and later his son Ben) & Tom Dabernig for the same owner, the Sun Bloodstock of Mr Cheng Ting Kong, the Fiorente four-year-old would figure among one of the most accomplished racehorses to have reached our shores.

Early doors, he took out the traditional first Sydney 2yo race of the season, the Listed Fernhill Handicap (1600m) as part of The Championships at Royal Randwick. It was also the usual lead-up to the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) in which he, however, ran seventh to Castelvecchio.

But it was his later races as a four-year-old during last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival when pitted against some of Australia’s best milers that really boosted his ratings.

He won two races at Caulfield (1700m) and Flemington (1600m) but it was arguably in defeat that he was spoken of in even more glowing terms – his narrow second in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sandown last November when he went down by a mere pimple to stablemate So Si Bon.

Soon after, the Sun conglomerate shipped him to Koh’s Singapore yard, with the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 25 pencilled in as his main mission.

While Sun Power has not walked the talk yet, Koh and Beasley would like to believe the litmus test is a race, with the first coming up this Saturday in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1400m.

“He came to us after COVID-19. I’ve been holding him up, as I felt he wasn’t ready yet. In the end, I had to get him out if we want to make it for the Derby,” said Koh.

“I think he’s the type that needs to warm up in his races, but in saying this, I thought he needed to show some flash in his work if he will be running against better horses one day.

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I can fault him in terms of his health and physical side. He’s eating well, and he’s really bright and dandy.

“But so far, he hasn’t shown us much on the training tracks and his barrier trials. Maybe he needs more time to get acclimatised.”

When asked if he had picked the brains of the gelding’s previous team of conditioners about any pointers that might shed some light on his training mannerisms, Koh said he was trusting his own judgement and observation for now.

“What I see on hand is what really matters to me. I have to see how he works only here and now,” said the US-trained handler, whose previous experience with a big-race import did not etch an indelible impression – French stayer Ruwi, who never won a race at Kranji, but went on to sire a few winners at Kranji, most notably five-time winner Queen Roulette.

“I know he wore winkers in Australia, and I fitted him with winkers at his barrier trials here, but for a first run over 1400m, he will have blinkers on to sharpen him up a little.”

Beasley said the shades did spark Sun Power up a touch at his final hit-out on Tuesday morning, but the recent Lion City Cup-winning jockey (Lim’s Lightning) was overall still a little underwhelmed by his outputs on the training tracks.

“Sun Power comes in with very strong form, probably one of the strongest I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said the Australian jockey, who is still attuned to the forms back home despite having spent the last 14 years, which is around half of his career in Singapore.

“He ran second to So Si Bon, and beat Homesman (in third) in the Eclipse Stakes. Homesman went on to win the Australian Cup a couple of months ago.

“He won two races this prep, which was all from this Spring Carnival, so he’s very highly-credentialled. Being by Fiorente, he’s looking for more ground.

“He’s also a beautiful horse that is a real pleasure to work, he looks like a genuine gentleman. I wish I could canter him all mornings.

“But in saying this, his trials and his gallops have left a bit to be desired. I would have liked him to show us a bit more.

“I talked to Desmond, and he said he might be a 1600m horse who doesn’t show his best until he gets over more ground.

“He wore winkers in his races back home, but we put blinkers on at his last gallop and I saw a bit of improvement.

“Desmond has tried to get him as fit as possible, and Desmond being patient, he felt he wasn’t ready when he was supposed to have his first run earlier. He just kept trialling him just to make sure he’s fit enough to have his first start.

“I’m very excited to see what he does over 1400m first-up. Hopefully, he brings his Australian form, even if it’s a massive question mark at this stage.

“The Derby is his focus, and we just want to get him right for the Derby. We still have a bit of time for that.”

Adjusted to 75 points after last racing on 92 points at his last Australian (unplaced) outing in the Listed Kilmore Cup (1600m) in November, Sun Power is actually also entered in the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on May 22, but it’s highly unlikely the former invitational race will come into the mix.

“I entered him just in case, as he had the points to run, but we’ve run out of time to get him ready,” said Koh.

Author: iRace