Racing

It's all looking rosy for Gray

Trainer Stephen Gray has had a fairly quiet start to the season, but things have picked up since, and will probably get busier in the coming weeks as his stable stars come rolling out.

Gray has not raced either BAHANA or LIM'S CRUISER since their November triumphs in the Dester Singapore Gold Cup and EW Barker Trophy respectively, while his top gun, EMPEROR MAX has been off the track for even longer - since April 24 when runner-up to Zac Spirit in the Lion City Cup.

The trio are days or weeks away from their racing comebacks. Emperor Max trialled (his fifth since he was brought back in full work) last Thursday, Lim's Cruiser stepped out for his first trial yesterday while Bahana's turn is coming up tomorrow.

After taking the whole of January to finally open his 2017 account - with incidentally his 500th Kranji winner, DARC BOUNTY - Gray has since been churning out winners on a regular basis to now sit in seventh spot on 10 winners. He is now hoping his three high-profile runners can contribute to the stable's success.

"Max is coming all right. He ran on well at his last trial," said Gray about the Holy Roman Emperor seven-year-old's fourth to The Nutcracker last Thursday.

"I might run him in the Rocket Man Sprint next Sunday week, but maybe not. It's quite frustrating with the weights and we'll have to see how much weight he gets.

"The Lion City Cup is still his main race and he is right on target for that. It's not ideal as there are no other races for him here, but we have done our best to keep him ticking over for that race."

Lim's Cruiser, whose rating is 84, is better off at the weights - for now. He will make his racing comeback in the Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint.

"Lim's Cruiser had a nice break, but I didn't put him out of work. I've kept him ticking over," said Gray.

"It was his first trial today, and I told Vlad (Duric) to just let him naturally gallop around. He did it better than I thought he would."

The Casino Prince four-year-old coasted in for third to noted frontrunner White Hunter.

It was the perfect way to top him off ahead of the Rocket Man Sprint. The trip appears ideal for a comeback, although Gray is still not 100 per cent sure how to pigeon-hole the Lim's Stable-owned galloper.

"He's an interesting case. I can't really tell if he's a sprinter, miler or stayer," said Gray. "The 4YO series is his main target, but it's still some months away and he's got to get a few runs under the belt, and I thought why not run him in the Rocket Man Sprint."

Duric has partnered Lim's Cruiser throughout his first prep and remains upbeat about the horse. "It was a very good trial. The horse is flying," he summed up. "He's a high-class horse. Unfortunately, I won't be able to ride at the low weight he will get in the Rocket Man Sprint. It'll have to be another time."