Trainer Stephen Gray is confident that his duo of Lim’s Magic and Sky Rocket have peaked at the right time for the second Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the $1 million Group 1 Charity Bowl (1600m) on Sunday.
In Lim’s Magic’s case, the Kiwi handler, however, said – not without a hint of regret – that the son of Manhattan Rain may have peaked a touch too soon, but he has to make do with whatever the racing calendar dictates.
The Charity Bowl, known as Patron’s Bowl in the last 21 years (Patrons’ Bowl from 1997 to 2010), is this year staged a week earlier after the third Leg, the Emirates Singapore Derby was brought one week forward (22 July to 15 July).
Lim’s Magic (Glen Boss) weighs in with strong claims in the Charity Bowl on Sunday.
But contrary to the last two Legs, the first Leg, the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1400m) won by Elite Invincible last Sunday week (June 10) was not moved, hence the usual three-week interval between races was shaved off to only two weeks – a gap which Gray bemoans as too short.
“Lim’s Magic went good the other day (fast-finishing third in Stewards’ Cup). Glen Boss rode him quiet as he had a wide draw, and he made good ground,” said Gray of the precocious two-time winner.
“If the race was run as a handicap, he would have carried only 51kgs and he would have won.
“The only concern is the two weeks between runs. It makes it more difficult as he’s not a robust horse and needs more time to get over a run.
“But he worked good this morning and he seems to have hit his best form. He has stepped well above his rating and the Derby is his main mission.
“But this is a one million dollar race. The timing is right if he is good enough.”
The same can be said about Sky Rocket, who is being thrown in at the deep end on the back of his pulsating win in a Class 3 race over 1400m last Friday.
“Sky Rocket is backing up after nine days. He was nice and relaxed in that race, which he hasn’t been in past runs,” said Gray.
“He was unlucky three starts back when third and he should have won on Super Saturday (flying second to Biraz in a Class 3 race over 1200m when ridden by Hong Kong visiting jockey Karis Teetan).
“Only good horses keep improving like this. Some look like they will, but they don’t in the end.
“He won $40,000 the other day, but this is a one million dollar race. I told the owner he won well at his last start and his form is good, and he deserves to have a shot.
“If it rains, it will suit him even better while Lim’s Magic can handle any track.”
Boss, who has ridden Lim’s Magic at all his six starts and two wins, remains in the saddle, while Sky Rocket will be teamed up for the first time with Daniel Moor. Vlad Duric, who won on the son of Darci Brahma at his last outing, is as expected not leaving the corner of Stewards’ Cup winner Elite Invincible.