Trainer David Kok is hoping that the Sin-HK Friendship Stable can have something to cheer about this Sunday.
The relative newcomer has had mixed fortunes with their only previous horse Major Advancement. The son of O’Reilly got off to a flying start on New Year’s Day last year, but has not been able to revisit the winner’s circle since, even if three thirds were there to prove that his debut win was no fluke.
But the outfit, who is made up of a mixture of local and Hong Kong owners, with the former in majority, were in for worse news when the gelding fractured his leg and had to undergo surgery.
Luckily, he recovered and Kok has since brought him back in work. As disheartening as such setbacks can be to any horse owner, they still rallied round to pledge Kok support with one more purchase – another New Zealand-bred but this time by Rock ‘N’ Pop.
The two-year-old named Autumn Assault makes his Kranji debut in the second Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series this Sunday, the S$90,000 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale Stakes over 1100m.
Kok said that Autumn Assault – his only two-year-old this year - was bought with the juvenile series in mind.
“He’s the only two-year-old I have. His two trials have been good and he’s ready to have his first run,” said the Singaporean conditioner.
“He was not ready at the first Leg (Kranji Nursery Stakes run on May 18 and won by Pennywise who is also in the second Leg) and I set him for the second Leg instead.
“Obviously, we will be going for the last Leg, but let’s see how he goes in the earlier Legs first.”
The fifth and final Leg is the Aushorse Golden Horseshoe (1200m) to be run on July 13.
Kok could not fault the preparation of the youngster thus far, but as with all “babies”, would rather wait and see how he fares at his first racing experience. He does hope Autumn Assault can make up for the disappointment experienced by his owners with their first acquisition.
“It would be nice if he can perform. The owners race Major Advancement who is back from surgery after he fractured his leg,” he said.
“He’s been working for a couple of months now and he should be able to make his racing comeback soon.
“But in the meantime, the owners will have another runner to look forward to this Sunday. I hope he runs well.”
Autumn Assault will be ridden by Benny Woodworth, who partnered him at his second barrier trial in which he ran second to stablemate David’s Star. He won his first barrier trial on May 15, in which he was ridden by Kok’s apprentice jockey Salim Yusoff.
In the first barrier trial, Autumn Assault showed an inclination to pull, and was held up at the rear before circling the field from the 600m with a sweeping run to score going away from King’s Speech.
In the second trial, he settled a lot better in a three-horse affair where Woodworth just allowed him to relax behind the speed before closing in late to finish only two lengths off David’s Star. -STC