A change to frontrunning tactics paid handsome dividends for Grand Knight (NZ) (Sufficient) in the S$85,000 Restricted Maiden race Division 2 race over 1400m on Friday.
The Sufficient three-year-old has been racing close to the speed at his previous unsuccessful five starts, unable to finish it off when it mattered.
At his last start, he even seemed to resent being among horses, somehow finding himself shuffled back to the rear before making up some of the deficit in the concluding stages.
In a bid to get on top of such field-shy traits, trainer Leslie Khoo told new partner Ryan Curatolo to aim for the spot with the smaller likelihood of such behaviour – right at the top of the queue.
The outermost alley in the 12-horse field stood in the way of such a battle plan, but Grand Knight ($30) showed good enough toe to find the lead rather easily.
Summing up the race to a nicety, Curatolo waited until the 400m to go flat to the boards. Grand Knight responded with a stylish turn of foot to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
“The horse has been running well and I expected a good run from him tonight,” said Khoo.
“At his last start, he dropped back to second last, but he came back again. I told Ryan he should try and lead this time and it’s worked.
“He can improve further and it’s good for the owner Mr Teo, who has been with me for so long under the Trend Stable, which he has renamed as the He’s Dewan Stable.”
Curatolo, who flies to Macau to ride at the Macau Derby meeting at Taipa on Saturday, could not have hoped for a better send-off.
“Barrier 12 was a worry, but this horse has got some speed,” said the former Macau-based French jockey.
“He can shy away behind horses and that’s why we decided to go on the pace tonight. He responded very well and won a nice race. -STC