The Capital stamps his class
Newcomer bags final leg of a treble for first-season trainer Ricardo Le Grange
With an overseas racing history that reads a 2,100m winner in Ireland, two starts in Group 2 and Group 3 races over 2,400m and 2,700m before being shipped to Singapore, THE CAPITAL would not have been a popular pick if lined up in a 1,200m Polytrack race first-up at Kranji.
That was exactly what happened on Sunday, when he made his local debut in the $60,000 Ninetyfive Emperor 2004 & 2005 Stakes, but racing is never an exact science.
The five-year-old gelding, who was previously known as Father Christmas, delivered a most unexpected early present when he blew away his rivals in sterling fashion.
Ridden by Barend Vorster, the latest Irish acquisition by Thai outfit Falcon Racing Stable was the first to score among a raft of similar imports renamed with politically inspired names like Politics, Excellency and Parliament, and who have already been rolled out at Kranji.
Even though The Capital won two barrier trials at Kranji, and comfortably - by aggregate margins in excess of six lengths - sceptics outnumbered fans.
It was hard to imagine him beating seasoned sprinters like Montaigne, Cactus Jack or Keen Dragon at their game in his very first local outing - almost a year since his last - even if on class, they were like chalk and cheese.
After all, Father Christmas ran third in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes over 2,400m at Ascot in 2015 when prepared by leading Irish trainer Aiden O'Brien.
But, when Vorster brought The Capital within striking distance at the 300m mark, it was soon clear that the new Falcon Racing import was not just having a warm-up run.
The son of Bernardini just scorched away in the last 100m to quickly put a space between him and the rest. It was left to another newcomer, Red Claw (Olivier Placais), to issue a late challenge, but The Capital had already romped in by two-and-a-quarter lengths. The winning time was 1min 11.75sec.
The Capital returned $35 for a win bet, an indication there was after all some level of support from some quarters, presumably by those mindful of his class and two barrier trial victories, which are nonetheless, always a fairly reliable guide on the lead-up form.
Vorster, who sat aboard in both trial wins, for one, kept an open mind when he headed out to the starting gates.
"From Day 1, he confused me. He is supposed to be an out-and-out stayer but he was very forward in his trials," said the South African hoop.
"I thought I'd play it by ear at his first run. I was able to park him up nice and comfortable and I just bided my time.
"In the straight, he quickly extended and surprised me with the way he won a 1,200m race.
"I've learned not to get too carried away with horses, but it will be interesting to see where he's going to go, especially as we step him up in distance."
Winning trainer Ricardo Le Grange, who was claiming the trainer's challenge for the day with a hat-trick of wins having earlier scored with CADET and ELUSIVE EMPEROR, was delighted the owners had finally been rewarded with a first return on their massive investment in those highly credentialled Irish horses, the majority of whom also hail from O'Brien and Coolmore.
"It's good that one of those Irish horses has won for the Thai owners. Hopefully, the rest will follow soon," said Le Grange.
"This winner came here with a couple of issues, but luckily, we managed to get on top of them. He showed quite a bit at his trials, although on his Irish reputation, he is potentially more of a stayer.
"After a year's lay-off, you never know how they will perform, but on the way he won today, I think he definitely has plenty of ability."