Kharisma’s run in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m this Saturday will provide trainer Stephen Gray a few crucial answers towards the feasibility of a Stewards’ Cup raid.
In his 15 starts at Kranji, the Mossman four-year-old has ventured beyond his pet trip of 1200m (all his seven wins came over that trip, both on turf and Polytrack, but mostly the latter with five wins) only once.
He was raised to seven furlongs in the wake of his maiden win last July. A fourth place after looming despite a wide trip certainly didn’t blot his copybook, but Gray didn’t push the envelope again after that.
The Kiwi was well inspired because the Indonesian-owned gelding won six more races, but the time has come to revisit that unconquered frontier again.
With one of the two surviving feature races of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge (not held this year), the $150,000 Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) coming up in two weeks’ time on July 3, Saturday’s race would be either a springboard or the sounding board it wasn’t such a good idea.
“We’ll see how he goes. I don’t know if he’ll get the 1400m, but he’s fit to take the option; it’s only another 200m, anyway,” said Gray who trained a Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) winner in Bahana for Kharisma’s owner, the Dago Stable of Untung Joesoef, in 2016.
“He’s done nothing wrong, he’s a bloody nice horse. Then we’ll know if he can go to the mile race, but I don’t think he’s a Derby horse (Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1800m is on July 25).
“If he doesn’t get it, I’ll give him a break and bring him back to sprints. The problem is I also have limited options for him.”
The trip is the main question mark, but Gray said he would also have to get past some serious rivals even if he sees out the seven furlongs.
“It’s a very good field, there are two or three great horses in that race,” he said.
“Lim’s Lightning is flying and Ricardo (Le Grange) has three good horses in it (Pennywise, Churchill and King Louis).
“But my horse has the weight advantage (53.5kgs). A few riders won on him, but Jimmy (Wong Chin Chuen) will ride him as he can ride light.
“I think he runs for jockeys like Jimmy as he’s a sit-and-wait type of horse who loves to run along, he doesn’t really need the stick. Troy See is in that mould, too, he also rode him beautifully, but he can’t make this weight.”
Wong has now partnered Kharisma to his last two wins, and also trialled him last Thursday – fourth to Elite Incredible, without being tested at any stage.
“It was a quiet trial just to keep him fit as he’s a good doing horse. That hit-out was to keep him doing some work,” said Gray.
“Yesterday, Jimmy galloped him on his own, and he went well. When he gets a gallop companion, he goes too hard, but on his lonesome, he’s cruisy.
“He’s done really good this horse. It’s his first prep really, after a nice break.”
Gray had also entered Hugo in the race, but the five-time winner by Smart Missile will be held over for next week.
“Hugo won his trial on Tuesday. I was looking at a Class 2 1200m next month, but the race was changed,” said Gray.
“I then looked at this Saturday’s race, but after the trial, it would be too much for him first-up. So I will run him next week in a Class 2 1100m instead.”