Racing

Churchill makes Le Grange's day

He also wins with Stormy View and Hotshots Slam

It turned out to be a good day at the office for trainer Ricardo Le Grange at Kranji on Saturday.

With just seven horses entered in the 11-race card, he put together a treble - with Churchill being the cream on his cake.

Churchill's win in the sixth - the $70,000 Class 3 Div 2 event over the Polytrack 1,200m - came after Stormy View saluted in Race 3 and Hotshots Slam in the next event.

Stormy View, who was ridden by apprentice jockey Krisna Thangamani, paid a good dividend of $48 for a win.

Hotshots Slam , the mount of Noh Senari, had plenty of supporters and went off as the $16 top pick.

However, it was Churchill's win which will be talked about for some time to come.

Sporting a pair of blinkers for the first time, the five-year-old Australian-bred had a huge following and he never gave them an anxious moment.

Indeed, what we saw was a Churchill who had regained his dynamic turn of foot.

Always well up with the pace, he did look smothered in fourth place when the going got serious. But, as it turned out, there was no cause for alarm.

It was just a matter of when he was going to turn on those after-burners.

Backed down to $14 favouritism, the strapping bay gelding gave his rivals little chance of a response once he was produced by first-time partner Ruan Maia at the top of the straight.

Among the challengers, Super Invincible (apprentice Iskandar Rosman) still had a kick left in him into the straight.

He did offer some resistance when Churchill drew alongside.

But it was a little too late. Churchill was always going to beat them and he did it in style.

He won with 1¼ lengths to spare.

Mr Hooper (Juan Paul van der Merwe) was produced late to finish third, half a length away.

The winning time was a swift 1min 10.55sec.

The win was Churchill's third in eight starts. It broke a mini run of outs - two unplaced runs, including his target race, the $500,000 Group 1 Singapore Derby over 1,800m in September.

The Smart Missile five-year-old has now saluted for his new owner, Guy Shirtliff, at only his second start - toting up close to $125,000 in prize money.

As it was Le Grange's third for the afternoon, the South African now sits on 22 winners to be seventh in the trainers' premiership table led by Michael Clements with 49 winners.

As for Hotshots Slam, it was his first outing for Le Grange, having previously been prepared by Shane Baertschiger.

The win also brought up a double for Noh, who went on to partner the Desmond Koh-trained Solo Sun to a nice victory in Race 8, the $50,000 Class 4 event over the Polytrack 1,600m.

Koh had won Race 5 with Lady Fast, who was ridden by former two-time top apprentice Wong Chin Chuen.

The $20,000 Maiden event over 1,200m turned out to be an all-mares finish, as the other two female runners, Lady Stuning and Don't Tell Tilly, finished second and third respectively.

HORSE RACING