𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐝, 𝐏𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐲𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐊𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐤 𝐰𝐢𝐧, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐇𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐤𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝
Then why wouldn't he be?
In three heats, all four of his trial runners attracted attention. For a steady queue-up, three of them prevailed, while the fourth came in second.
In the first of six trials, his newcomer, Great Command, displayed quickness and maintained the lead.
The Australian-bred 4-year-old finished the 1,000-meter Polytrack course in 60.49 seconds while being ridden by Danny Beasley.
His nine-time winner Pennywise delivered a strong sprint in Trial 3 under the guidance of trainee jockey Krisna Thangamani to win in the quickest time of the morning, 58.92 seconds.
In a stunning second, just a head behind, stablemate Hongkong Great finished. Vlad Duric mounted him.
Golden Monkey (Jake Bayliss), a dual Group winner and Lion City Cup contender for trainer Tim Fitzsimmons, finished a respectable third on the inside of the pair.
The following to stand out in Trial 4 was Katak, the last-start winner at Le Grange.
Ridden by Duric, the three-time Group 3 winner in South Africa defeated Fame Star by a length in 59.53 seconds after moving up from second.
After Pennywise and Katak's trial victories, Le Grange was understandably grinning. Both horses are expected to compete in the two Group 1 events later this year: the $300,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1,800 meters on October 15 and the $1 million Singapore Gold Cup over 2,000 meters on November 19.
"I was quite pleased with how they tested. The intention is for them to race the following week, the amiable Le Grange remarked, adding that the jockeys were also quite pleased.
"There is a Class 1 1,600-meter event, after which Katak will undoubtedly compete for the QEII and the Gold Cup.
The outcome will rely on Pennywise's actions. He may travel the same path. However, at this point, I'll deal with him race by race.
Although unbeaten in five home starts, Katak's tenure at Kranji has been anything but steady.
He was brought in with the main races in mind, but he fell short of expectations. However, his victory at his subsequent penultimate race on July 9—after being gelded—marked a significant turning point.
Based on the trial from yesterday, the horse has advanced even more, and Le Grange can only pray that his mount maintains his concentration.
The South African also has high expectations for his well-traveled but aging Hongkong Great to win the major matches throughout the season.
With eight victories from 1,200 meters to 2,000 meters in 25 starts in his native Chile, America, and Hong Kong and a high rating of 97 points, Hongkong Great debuted in a warm-up race on July 17 by placing sixth over 1,200 meters.
His strength may be staying, but on Sunday this week, the seven-year-old will compete in the $300,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1,200 meters.
He'll be travelling to the Lion City since I think his performance from his first outing was an improvement. He'll likely race a Class 1 mile, the QE II, and the Gold Cup when I have him go for another 1,200 meters. So I might have two or three horses for those major events, Le Grange remarked.
"I was pleased with his first-up performance. He had been out of commission for a few months, so he certainly needed the run in terms of his conditioning.
The trial this morning was quite well, and that run has brought him on. Vlad was thrilled to have him.
He will undoubtedly perform better over longer distances. I'm still getting to know him, but I believe that another 1,200 meters will help him maintain his fitness and, of course, prepare him for the Group 1 races at the end of the year.
"Nice horse, he's had a number of starts in Australia, and he's has got a couple of placings," he added of Great Command.
I'll mess about with his gears once again. He needs some blinkers, in my opinion. Danny was pleased with his trial run in a big way.
He's obviously still a little out of shape, so we'll probably give him one more trial before looking for a race in a few weeks.