Brilliant stayer Hard Too Think may find the trip too short this Saturday, but trainer Stephen Gray cautions he could still run a big race should the skies open up.
The dual Group 1 Singapore Derby-Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner has won five races over the 1400m to 2000m in 14 starts. His first win two years ago was scored on yielding ground over the 1400m, which will be the trip he tackles this time, albeit in a much higher-rated Class 1 race.
His New Zealand conditioner, who also runs top sprinter Kharisma in the same race, is hoping for a forward showing from Hard Too Think with the help of rain in the $100,000 Class 1 race.
“He loves the wet. If it rains, he will be running home, if it doesn’t, then the trip would be too sharp for him,” said Gray of the five-year-old son of All Too Hard.
“He’s had two trials and he’s very good now, fitness-wise.
“He’s carrying a light weight (51.5kgs), (jockey) Marc (Lerner) is unable to ride at that weight, so we’ve got (apprentice jockey) Iskandar (Rosman) to ride him this week.
“Marc is riding Kharisma this time, but he will take the ride on Hard Too Think in the Kranji Mile.”
The French jockey has won four group races in Singapore since his arrival in 2018, and among those were his two winning rides on Hard Too Think in the Singapore Derby (1600m) and QEII Cup (1800m) last year.
While Hard Too Think is all set to run in the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) in three weeks, not everything is cast in stone for his stablemate Kharisma.
The 10-time winner (all over the 1200m) has had the $300,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup on August 14 as his main goal all this while, and while his name is already among the 32 Kranji Mile entries, Gray would like to see his run this weekend first before committing to the big race.
“He’s nominated in the Kranji Mile, but we’ll see how he goes this time,” said Gray of the Mossman five-year-old.
“He’s more of a sprinter, so we have the option of coming back to the 1200m in a Class 1 race on the same day.
“With Daniel’s horse (Lim’s Lightning) in the race (this Saturday), it makes it a bit easier for him as he gets a bit of weight relief (55.5kgs).
“He gets a bit of chance to compete and I think the 1400m is okay for him.
“It was a leader’s track at his last run (seventh to Fame Star in a Class 1 over 1200m on March 19) and they went quite quick. He was on 59kgs while Fame Star was only carrying 49kgs. It was pretty hard to beat him then.
“He trialled very good with the blinkers on (last Tuesday) and he will be wearing it in the race to keep him sharp. He worked well this morning (Tuesday) with Marc on board.
“We all know the quality of the race is very good, but it’s a race we’ll try to win at the handicaps.
“Daniel (Meagher)’s two horses are the ones to beat, especially the younger Lim’s Kosciuszko, because he’s a good young horse that’s well-weighted.
“I hope the other horse (Lim’s Lightning) will need this run, whereas Kharisma already had a run.”
Reigning Horse of the Year Lim’s Lightning is resuming five months after his triumph in the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m), in which Hard Too Think ran a fighting second, three-quarter length behind.
Both Gray and Meagher’s pair, together with seven other Kranji Mile nominees, will battle it out in this exciting Kranji Mile prelude. They are South African Group winner and two-time Kranji winner Katak, last year’s Kranji Mile winner Minister, Fame Star, Top Knight, Mr Malek, Gold Star and Jupiter Gold.