Al Green leads outsider finish
Trainer Gray now eyeing some good sprints for his three-time winner
The $100,000 Kranji Stakes B-1 event over the Polytrack 1,000m at Kranji yesterday was touted as the most anticipated with the exciting Tannhauser resuming at single-digit odds.
Rightly so, with the high-profile galloper having won his last four starts and his recent trial for his comeback, in preparation for the rich races later in the year.
But the race didn't run to script, much to disappointment of the $8 favourite's punters, as three outsiders filled the top three placings, headed by $91 shot Al Green from Robin Hood (least-backed at $315) and Viviano ($180).
The Stephen Gray-trained and St George Stable-owned Al Green shot out like a bullet from gate 4 to be a length clear but Crazy Dreams was hunted up on the fence by jockey Benny Woodworth to take over command on settling down.
The Tan Hor Khoon-trained $50 shot led past the halfway mark by a length from Robin Hood and Al Green.
Dream Comes True was a lonely fourth, slightly over a length behind and a similar gap ahead of Tannhauser and Pioneer Seven on the rails.
There are some good sprints coming up and he's getting more mature and better.Trainer Stephen Gray, on his plans for Al Green
Robin Hood and Al Green moved up together and joined the tiring Crazy Dreams going into the straight.
Robin Hood then popped his head in front but found Al Green sticking to him like a leech.
The pair kicked clear.
Champion jockey Vlad Duric pumped Tannhauser up into fourth. His mount gave but not with the same acceleration that secured his four in a row.
When asked by jockey Craig Grylls with 200m to go, Al Green produced a good kick to beat Robin Hood by a length for his third win in 13 starts, and two from two over the Poly 1,000m.
Viviano flashed home to deny Tannhauser of third placing by a head.
The all-outsider finish resulted in the tierce paying a thumping $33,966.
No-one struck the quartet, with $19,534 being carried forward to the next race.
Grylls was thankful to Gray for instructing him to press the button only at the 200m mark.
It could have been a different story had he gone for the kill earlier when challenging Robin Hood, who ran a cracker in an unsuitable distance.
"Steve said to me he got only a short little sprint, so wait till the 200m and he's got a good kick," said the Kiwi rider, who won the preceding race on the Lee Freedman-trained Mr Clint.
"He got a bit tired though - he's entitled to - but he has done enough."
Gray has now set his sights higher for Al Green, whom he described as a professional short course horse.
"There are some good sprints coming up and he's getting more mature and better," said the New Zealander.
"When he first came here, I said he was a pretty good horse. He's mentally settled down and that's what patience has done for him.
For Tannhauser, it was evident the 1,000m scamper was the query, as pre-warned by his trainer.
Michael Clements had said that, although his charge was in top form and had the quality to be competitive, the trip was a bit sharp.
He was proven right.
But, like what race presenter Nicholas Child said, the defeat would not be the end of the world for the promising star, who has been aimed at Singapore Sprint Series and first leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.
"The bubble has slightly burst but certainly going up in distance will suit him in due course," said the Englishman.
After all, one bad run does not make a bad horse.