Sky Rocket launches Gold Cup trail with first-up win
Michael Lee
Sky Rocket turned on the afterburners at the right time to score a gutsy win first-up from a short let-up in the $100,000 New Zealand Racing Board Trophy, a Kranji Stakes B race over the Polytrack mile on Sunday. Reputed for his electric turn of foot, Sky Rocket could not quite finish off with the same dash in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m) in July. Dropped at the rear, he passed a few in the run home, but was nowhere near a position to threaten the winner Jupiter Gold.

After a freshen-up, the son of Darci Brahma was brought back in a Polytrack race for the first time, but that switch in surface certainly did not undermine his qualities. 

Tracking up odds-on favourite King Louis (Barend Vorster) a little worse than midfield for most of the way, Sky Rocket ($17) tacked on when the Ricardo Le Grange-trained galloper started to improve three wide from the 800m.

On the swing, King Louis looked a tough proposition to mow down when he shot out of the pack, but an undaunted Sky Rocket gamely stuck to his task under jockey Vlad Duric’s hard riding, closing down the gap with every stride. The two duelling horses were a sight to behold inside the last 100m, with Sky Rocket fighting tooth and nail a shade better on the outside to finish in advance of King Louis by half-a-length.

Such was the superiority of the first two that third-placed Gold City (Craig Grylls) was another gap of three lengths behind. The winning time was 1min 40.37secs for the 1600m on the Polytrack.

“He trialled very well last week. There was no other race and that’s why we put him in this Polytrack race,” said trainer Stephen Gray.

“He’s a good Singapore Gold Cup horse, but I’m not too sure what I’ll do next. The El Dorado Classic was the best lead-up race last time when it was run three weeks before the Gold Cup.

“I may go to the mile race (Raffles Cup) instead. We’ll see.

“Daniel Moor told me he ran very well in the Derby. Vlad won on him two starts back, we’re good mates and he’s a good rider and rides many winners for us.

“He’s flying today and it’s good for him.”

The reigning Singapore champion jockey was indeed having a great day at the office given Sky Rocket was bringing up a hat-trick of wins after he saluted earlier with Prince Ferdinand and Hidden Promise to give himself some breathing space at the top. Duric has now extended his lead on Olivier Placais to eight winners (54 versus 46).

“I was a bit concerned he was first-up from the Derby and he was going on Polytrack for the first time,” said the Victorian rider.

“But he trialled lovely for Daniel Moor the other day (August 23) and I was still confident he had a good chance.

“We had a beautiful run throughout, tracking up nicely in behind, and he then had the last crack at the favourite.”

Sky Rocket, who races in the East Malaysian-owned tangerine and blue colours made famous by 2007 Singapore Gold Cup winner Recast, has now taken his stakes money to the $190,000 mark for his connections.