Aramco goes for big-race test
Trainer Shane Baertschiger's rising star must run well to have a stab at Group glory
Trainer Shane Baertschiger holds ARAMCO in high esteem but will still see how the promising sprinter comes through Sunday's assignment before mapping out any loftier plans.
The Australian handler has either the Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint over 1,200m or the Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1,200m in mind as a stab at Group glory for the three-time Kranji winner.
A NOTCH ABOVE
But the former Team Hawkes galloper will have to win, or at worse, run very well in Sunday's $100,000 Open Benchmark 83 race over 1,200m, which in itself already boasts opposition that is a notch above the horses he accounted for thus far.
Aramco has recorded three wins from five starts, twice at Class 4 level and the latest at Class 3 level - all over 1,200m.
Baertschiger has no doubt he has a smart individual under his care, but is mindful not to rush the talented four-year-old.
"He's done very well with three wins from five runs. I couldn't have asked for more from him," said Baertschiger.
"He's pulled up good since his last win. I was happy with his gallop last Thursday.
"It's not an overly strong field he's running against on Sunday, but he will have to win before I look at anything higher for him.
"It'll be either the Rocket Man Sprint two weeks from Sunday's race or the Lion City Cup, but let's see how he goes this week first."
Formerly known as the Kranji Sprint, the Rocket Man Sprint, renamed as such this year in honour of Singapore's champion sprinter, is the first leg of the Singapore Sprint Series which culminates with the Lion City Cup on April 16.
Baertschiger knows what kind of horse it takes to succeed in the famed series, given the family name is etched on all three legs.
Shane himself captured his first feature race in the Kranji Sprint in 2013 with El Milagro, while his father Don won the first leg, the Merlion Trophy with Tuxedo Moon in 2011, the Lion City Cup with Capablanca in 2008, as well as the Kranji Sprint with Always Fast in 2007.
While Aramco was ridden by Danny Beasley in his last start and John Powell in his first three runs, the low handicap of 51.5kg had Baertschiger looking elsewhere for a lighter rider, and settled for OIivier Placais, a rider he has never called upon before.
"Danny or Johnny cannot make it. Shane called me and I was more than happy to accept the ride," said the in-form Placais.
"I've seen his wins and he's definitely a very nice horse. I should be able to make that weight.
"I've never ridden him before but I will sit on him for the first time in a gallop tomorrow."
Known as Mawahibb in Sydney, where he won once over 1,200m, Aramco has really thrived since landing in Singapore, scoring a particularly impressive win in his last start in spite of Beasley losing his whip upon straightening.
"All's good with him. He's a straightforward horse to ride and is in top form," said Baertschiger, who has also nominated Von Krumm in the race.
"I hope there will be a genuine pace to the race, and the rest will be up to Olivier."
It’s not an overly strong field he’s running against on Sunday, but he will have to win before I look at anything higher for him. Trainer Shane Baertschiger