Lanky Australian trainer Shane Baertschiger, whom they call Stretch at Kranji, made it two from two at the trials yesterday morning.
His two horses – Alexander and newcomer Shang Chi, as in the Marvel Comics’ superhero of the same name – were ridden by stable jockey Matthew Kellady to impressive victories.
The pair will be running next week and are horses to watch – Alexander in the Class 5 race over 1,200m and Shang Chi in the Open Maiden event over 1,200m on turf.
Alexander was settled in third early behind Battle Win and Romance Love All. The four-year-old New Zealand-bred swept around the two leaders turning for home and soon hit the front.
From there, he kicked away boldly to score by 31/4 lengths in 1min 01.02sec for the Polytrack 1,000m. Centurion, who was last early, finished second.
It was the second nice trial from Alexander. On Feb 22, he ran second behind Street Of Dreams.
The bay gelding has yet to win from 11 starts but looks poised to break the duck. His best showings were a second (over 1,200m on turf) and two thirds (over the Poly 1,100m and 1,800m).
He was rested after finishing sixth in a Poly 1,800m race last Oct 30. The break seems to have benefited him.
While he felt it was a nice trial, Baertschiger did not sound optimistic. He rated his personal horse as ordinary and “one paced”.
He could only hope for the best.
Shang Chi’s victory was more impressive. The Kwok Chun Wai-owned Australian-bred was slightly slow into stride but made up ground gradually, albeit a bit wide. He soon got behind the leading trio of Pungarehu, Captain Legacy and King Zoustar.
Kellady then had his mount on the leaders’ outside shortly after straightening. With nice strides, Shang Chi kicked to the post to win by two lengths from King Zoustar.
He clocked 1:00.71, the fastest of the four trials.
This was his second Kranji trial. In his first, on Feb 22, he missed the jump and appeared a little keen chasing the horses in front.
He travelled wide and was kept on a hold by Kellady to beat only two home in the field of eight.
It was obvious he was just out to familiarise himself with the Kranji racetrack.
He looked a little more relaxed yesterday and had certainly learnt a lot from his first trial.
Baertschiger took note of his improvement in clocking the fastest time of the morning.
He said Shang Chi came with “average” form. From seven starts in New Zealand, he had two seconds and a third – all over 970m.
Like Alexander, he is hoping for some luck.
Trainer Steven Burridge’s Mr Malek took the third trial in 1:01.41.
Ridden by apprentice jockey Simon Kok, the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup winner and Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup third-placegetter came from midfield with a nice turn of foot to win drawing away.
He is another worth noting.
Yesterday’s barrier trial results:
1 Alexander H (M Kellady)
2 Centurion (M Lerner)
3 Supernatural (J Bayliss)
4 Romance Love All
5 Battle Win (K A’Isisuhairi)
Margins and time: 31/4, 1/2, 23/4, 4 (1min 01.02sec)
1 Magnificent Gold H
2 Clarton Treasure H (Lerner)
3 Mighty Vain (CC Wong)
4 Legacy Reign (Bayliss)
5 Wan Legacy (M Nunes)
Margins and time: 1/2, 1/2, 2, 11/4 (1:01.78)
1 Mr Malek H (WH Kok)
2 Dancing Light H (Nunes)
3 Grand Koonta (Wong)
4 Gold Star (Bayliss)
5 Gold Strike (Lerner)
Margins and time: 11/4, 11/2, 2, 33/4 (1:01.41)
1 Shang Chi H (Kellady)
2 King Zoustar (N Zyrul)
3 Smoke And Mirrors
4 Pungarehu (Nunes)
5 Fort Mustang (Lerner)
6 Captain Legacy (A’Isisuhairi)
Margins and time: 2, 1/2, 3/4, 11/4, 4 (1:00.71)