Trainer Jason Lim’s patience paid off after Ibex finally got on the board at his eighth Kranji start on Saturday.
Originally in the care of ex-Kranji trainer Cliff Brown, the Dream Ahead five-year-old was snapped up by Lim at Brown’s dispersal sale when he went back to Australia in March last year.
But the returns from the second-hand purchase were anything but quick.
At his first four starts, the strapping galloper by and large flew under the radar, except for a distant second to Clergyman in an Open Maiden mile race in July.
Lim put the pedestrian development down to immaturity.
“I bought him from Cliff Brown when Cliff left, but he was very green and difficult when he first came to us,” said Lim.
“He ran one good race, but didn’t show much otherwise. He then had a setback and we had to rest him for one year.
“But he has matured a lot and shown improvement since he came back.
“Maybe the blinkers helped, but I still think the main reason he has turned the corner is age.”
Raced by the Secondtonone & Good Men Stable, Ibex has taken only three starts in his second preparation to open his account. A closing second to Shanghai Star in a Maiden race over 1,200m at his last start boded well.
Saturday’s $20,000 Maiden race over the same journey, but on Polytrack, did not look any more daunting. From the eight opponents in the line-up, Ibex dominated five of them in that race Shanghai Star won.
Eternal bridesmaid Holy Eleanor and the Restricted Maiden-placed Watery were among some of the new threats who could get in his way this time.
But, when it came to the crunch, none of them gave the $17 chance any anxious moments.
After tracking the leader Fabu (Koh Teck Huat) throughout, Ibex (Krisna Thangamani) waited until the home straight to open up to a big lead, which proved impossible to whittle down.
Holy Eleanor (Simon Kok) did rally late, but will have to again live to fight for another day for that elusive breakthrough. The Irish-bred mare ran another second – her eighth in 15 starts.
Free And Happy (Mark Ewe) ran on late to snatch third place another neck away. Ibex covered the 1,200m on the Polytrack in 1min 12.24sec.
Lim said he had been quite bullish about Ibex’s Saturday outing being the right one, provided the formlines from his last start stacked up.
“The field he ran in at his last start was pretty much the same as today’s. He clocked a very good timing,” he said.
“He was even fitter today, so we were pretty confident going into the race. We should see a lot of improvement from him down the road.”
Krisna said he tapped into his previous experience on Ibex to get the best out of him.
“I’ve already ridden him before. He’s a horse with one short burst, so I had to keep him in hand for as long as I could,” said the Malaysian apprentice jockey.
“It was perfect timing. When I let go, he gave a good response.
“I still had some horse under me, and nobody could come close to me. He can go over 1,400m. ”
Krisna kept up his rich vein of form with a double aboard City Hall ($38) for his master Ricardo Le Grange four races later, in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race over 1,200m.
Saturday’s Singapore Stipes’ report highlights:
JUST BECAUSE (7th/$61)
When questioned about the tactics adopted, jockey Vlad Duric said that, with the blinkers off and the step-up in distance, he was instructed to attempt to settle back to endeavour to help the gelding finish the race off.
He added that, in accordance with his instructions, he restrained his mount after the start to shift in and obtain cover.
The gelding travelled fairly in the middle stages and failed to respond when asked in the straight.
TWELFTH NIGHT (8th/$33)
When questioned, jockey Marc Lerner said that the gelding settled back in accordance with his established racing pattern but travelled only fairly throughout.
He added that his mount hung out on the hometurn and did not respond when asked in the straight.
He felt that Twelfth Night is better suited when racing on the turf.
Returned lame near-fore and exhibited signs of respiratory distress.
When questioned about the performance, Duric said that, from a wide barrier draw, he was instructed to go back and attempt to obtain cover which he was able to do.
After initially following Wind Of Liberty across, he took up a trailing position behind Wild Bee, who he anticipated would take him into the race.
He added that the gelding was inclined to lay out on the turn and, when asked in the straight, Miracle initially responded before weakening over the concluding stages.
When questioned about the gelding leading, jockey Matthew Kellady explained that it had been his intention to take up a forward position.
But, when runners drawn to his inside began on terms, he rode his mount forward to clear those runners and avoid covering excessive ground.
SUPER INCREDIBLE (last/$98)
Returned lame off-fore.
DREAM ALLIANCE (8th/$18)
When questioned about the performance, Lerner said that he had hoped to obtain cover early.
But, when Deception continued to improve to his inside, he had to race wide throughout.
He added that the gelding laid in throughout and did not respond when asked in the straight.
When questioned about the performance, in particular why his mount settled at the rear, jockey Danny Beasley said that he had anticipated settling midfield.
But his mount did not stretch out fully early and did not display the necessary pace to go forward.
He added that Raffie hung out badly passing the 800m mark and again on the hometurn.
After improving to the inside of Pure Perfection in the straight, the gelding found the line well.
He felt that Raffie, who was first-up from a lengthy spell, would benefit from the run.
HAPPY FRIDAY (last/$22)
When questioned about Happy Friday being eased out of the race, Duric said that the gelding travelled well until passing the 600m mark, where he lost his action behind.
As he was of the belief that his mount had suffered an injury to the back leg, he therefore eased him out of the race.
After viewing the stewards’ patrol film, it was confirmed that the gelding’s action changed significantly passing the 600m mark. This confirmed Duric’s thoughts.
LONHRO GOLD (9th/$84)
When questioned about his riding, with particular reference to the amount of pressure he placed on the horse early, jockey Bernardo Pinheiro said that he had been instructed to lead or sit just behind the pace.
After beginning well, he rode his mount hard early to ensure he was able to clear runners and find the rails.
Although he had to guide his mount to cross, the gelding travelled comfortably until approaching the 150m mark, where Lonhro Gold made a respiratory noise.
As he thought that the gelding had bled, he did not pressure his mount over the concluding stages.
A vet revealed that the horse exhibited signs of respiratory distress.
CASH OUT (8th/$238)
Jockey Simon Kok reported that the horse was not striding out freely. A vet examination revealed that the horse exhibited signs of respiratory distress.
When questioned about the performance, jockey Jake Bayliss said that his mount travelled well in the early and middle stages.
With the fast early tempo, he anticipated the horse would run on when asked in the straight.
When ridden along from the 400m mark, his mount initially responded.
But passing the 200m mark, he felt the horse changed stride and he was concerned that the horse might have bled.
For this reason, he did not pressure the horse over the concluding stages. The vet reported that the horse returned lame off-hind.
FROM THE NAVY (last/$87)
Returned lame off-fore.
Duric reported that the mare’s saddle slipped back in the straight. This was confirmed by the vet.