Sports

Powell picks blue swede

He thinks the 1,400m trip suits the horse better than Faaltless

In-form jockey John Powell has picked BLUE SWEDE ahead of FAALTLESS in Sunday's $350,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m, the second leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge.

Trainer Shane Baertschiger's smart duo were both ridden by the stable jockey in their last starts, with Blue Swede recording a pulsating last-to-first victory when resuming from a four-month spell in a Novice Polytrack race over 1,200m on March 21.

Faaltless lost no admirers with a second place to War Affair, but at more exalted level, in the first leg of the Three-Year-Old series, the Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m a week later.

As is often the case for Powell, his rides are dictated by the handicaps, but with the race being at set weights (all on 57kg except for Yangon who is on 54kg being the only Northern Hemisphere-bred entry), the Australian heavyweight jockey had the luxury of choice for once.

But Powell said he was never really in a fix about which horse to ride.

PROVEN RECORD

Despite Faaltless' more proven track record of four wins and two seconds from six runs, Powell has obviously been caught up in the exciting aura that surrounds Blue Swede, a two-time winner from four starts, but who has picked up only around a third of Faaltless' stakes earnings of close to $200,000.

Even Baertschiger had labelled him as potentially his "next big thing".

"It was not really a tough decision to make. I went with the horse with the untapped potential and that's Blue Swede," said Powell, who turned 44 yesterday.

He is riding with a new lease of life this year, sitting third on the log with 24 winners from only 100 rides, making him a clear leader in the strike rate department at Kranji.

"I've actually ridden Faaltless only twice, and I think he's more of a 1,200m-1,400m horse, while Blue Swede is a 1,400m-mile horse.

"From a Singapore Guineas standpoint, Blue Swede has realistically a better scope, and he's got a really good finish.

"Sunday's race will be a bit of a race, though, and will be Blue Swede's toughest test by far.

"It will also give us a good guide and, after the Guineas, we will know for sure if he is any good or just average.

"In saying this, both horses are working well. I galloped Blue Swede on the Poly and he had an easy gallop and was very fresh.

"I also rode Faaltless and he worked well too and is as fit as he can be."

El Milagro wins in slick time

EIGHT-TIME winner El MILAGRO looks set to return to the winning list, judging by his swift trial win at Kranji yesterday.

Ridden by Danny Beasley, the Shane Baertschiger-trained five-year-old gelding showed his eight rivals a clean pair of heels.

He won by one and a quarter lengths unextended from the hard-ridden Johnny Guitar, winner of the Group 3 Polytrack Mile Championship two starts back.

El Milagro clocked 59.72sec for the 1,000m on the Polytrack, which was rated as good.

Among his eight successes was the Group 3 Kranji Sprint, in which he returned a blistering 1min 08.84sec for the 1,200m on the short course.

It should pay to mark him down.

Yesterday's trial results and comments:

TRIAL 1 (TEST)

1 Aureus (I Santana)

2 Speedy Dwarf (R Sazali)

3 Universal Starlite (T Affandi)

4 These Streets (C Brown)

5 Kevin Eleven (K Toh)

Margins and time: 2, 1½, 1¼, 1½ (1min 02.21sec)

Kevin Eleven (blinkers) was slightly slow to begin.

Speedy Dwarf (1,000m/veterinary test) started best and led. He was about a length in front of Universal Starlite (starting stall) at the 600m mark. Newcomer These Streets was a length behind. Aureus (blinkers) moved up on his outside. Kevin Eleven was last, only a length away.

Speedy Dwarf was first for home but Universal Starlite had closed in to half a length away. Aureus also made up ground on the outside of These Streets. Aureus joined Speedy Dwarf and Universal Starlite at the 200m mark and then cleared away to beat Speedy Dwarf by two lengths.

TRIAL 2 (PRACTICE)

1 El Milagro (D Beasley)

2 Johnny Guitar (B Vorster)

3 Hero Success (M Au)

4 Wild Geese

5 Cannon Hill (V Leal)

6 Greenstone (D Flores)

7 California Eagle (Santana)

8 Farrand (M Ewe)

9 Chengho (J Saimee)

Margins and time: 1¼, 5¾, 2½, 1½, ½, ns, 1¾, nk (59.72)

Hero Success missed the kick and lost a couple of lengths.

El Milagro scorched to the front and, at the 600m mark, was four lengths clear of Farrand, who was pulling hard, and California Eagle. Hero Success swung up wide. A gap away was Johnny Guitar. Then came Chengho, Greenstone, Cannon Hill and Wild Geese.

El Milagro was well clear going into the straight from California Eagle and Hero Success. Farrand had raised the white flag. Johnny Guitar started his run. El Milagro was six lengths clear at the 200m mark. Johnny Guitar was pumped home by Vorster but the leader held on without any urging to win by one and a quarter lengths.

TRIAL 3 (PRACTICE)

1 Stormy Along (Flores)

2 Leave Me Alone (KB Soo)

3 Sugar Man (Vorster)

4 Darci Charmer (L Allpress)

5 Got Luck (Beasley)

6 Savage Storm

7 Spyder (Leal)

8 Moova Fish (M Ewe)

9 I Like (M Nunes)

Margins and time: 1¾, nk, ½, ¾, 3¼, 1½, 7, 3¾ (1:00.90)

Darci Charmer and I Like hesitated after jumping and lost ground.

Stormy Along, who jumped from the widest barrier, charged up to lead and found the rails. He was about two lengths clear of Leave Me Alone at the 600m mark. Got Luck was one and a half lengths away. Sugar Man was a length behind, followed by Savage Storm. Then came Darci Charmer, Moova Fish and Spyder. I Like trailed.

Stormy Along maintained his two-length lead from Leave Me Alone on straightening. Got Luck and Sugar Man were next. Although he was about four lengths clear at the 200m mark, Flores meant business as he pushed Stormy Along out to win.

TRIAL 4 (PRACTICE)

1 Arrow To Post (Allpress)

2 Day By Day (Beasley)

3 Gold Line (Vorster)

4 So Perfect (S Noh)

5 Golden Knight (Flores)

6 Metaphor (M Suhaimi)

7 Natural Ahead (I Saifudin)

Margins and time: ½, 1¼, ½,hd, nk, ns (1:01.53)

A fairly good start.

Day By Day led and was about two lengths in front of So Perfect at the 600m mark. Metaphor was half a length away on the fence. Two lengths behind came Gold Line and Arrow To Post. Golden Knight was close by on the fence. Natural Ahead was last, four lengths further back.

Day By Day led into the straight but So Perfect had inched closer. Arrow To Post loomed large on his outside. Gold Line and Metaphor were next. Day By Day was collared by Arrow To Post at the 200m mark and both horses just ran on without any exertion to the post.

Shane: It's silly not to give it a go

Trainer Shane Baertschiger's post-win plan was to skip Sunday's Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic and aim BLUE SWEDE straight towards the third leg, the Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m on May 16.

But his O'Reilly three-year-old won so impressively that his handler decided that in-between warm-up 1,400m race might as well be the Classic itself.

"He won so well that I decided to run him in the Classic. Winning form is good form," said Baertschiger, who owns the horse.

"It's worth $350,000 and you would be silly not to give it a go, and now I have double the chance of getting a share of it.

"Regarding the rides, JP made the call on that one. He decided to go for Blue Swede and I've given the ride on Faaltless to Barend Vorster, who knows him for having won on him.

"Blue Swede has pulled up in great order after his last run. He wants more ground, but the 1,400m will suit him, too, especially over the long course, like the day he won with Matty (Kellady).

"It's a jump in class as he is now tackling the best three-year-olds in Singapore, but I couldn't be happier with his condition going into the race.

"Faaltless has maintained his form as well. He showed he could measure up to that class in the first leg and, hopefully, he can go well again."