Churchill shows grit with gutsy win
Big things to come for Ricardo Le Grange-trained promising horse
You have to feel for Churchill. He looked heading for a terrific first season when floored by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He had won a race in February but, like all others, his plans were scuttled when Singapore - and the world - went into lockdown.
However, when restrictions were eased, Churchill was quick to carry on from where he left off.
Sent to the trials in June and July - and winning both with solid shows - he went to the races on July 26.
We know the rest.
He ran like a champion over the 1,200m to beat Beau Geste in convincing fashion.
Then, earlier this month, he went for a quickfire double.
His trainer, Ricardo Le Grange, sent him over the mile - only to see him being denied victory by Loyalty Man, who took that race by a length.
Don't feel too bad for the connections.
Churchill is on the improve and what we saw of him at the trials yesterday morning does seem to suggest he could be the one they all have to beat at his next start.
Ridden by top local jockey Benny Woodworth in the second of five trials, Churchill jumped cleanly and stayed at the withers of the leader Passport To Rome.
Threeandfourpence joined in the party up front and the trio were glued together when they straightened for that run home.
Two hundred and fifty metres out and Woodworth said "go".
So, too, jockey CC Wong on Threeandfourpence.
Heads up, heads down they raced to the line, with Churchill giving that little extra at the finish.
The margin was a head. Tight, but enough to suggest big things from the son of Smart Missile.
Le Grange would later saddle another trial winner with Leatherhead.
Ridden by Noh Senari, Leatherhead beat the Cliff Brown-trained and champion jockey Vlad Duric-ridden Trading Post, with Simba holding down third spot.
Always well up with the pace and taking the shortest route home, Leatherhead was never off the bit and travelling really well.
Although pushed to the limit by Trading Post, the chestnut - by saving ground throughout - had too much in reserve to take the trial by a neck.
That said, Leatherhead's stablemate, Restrained, caught the eye with a good run to claim fourth spot.
But it was all about Leatherhead, who won in a smart time of 60.18sec.
Yet to win a race after a dozen starts, his turn shouldn't be too far away.
Yesterday's Kranji barrier trial results
TRIAL 1 (ORT)
1 Tiger Leap (WH Kok)
2 Tigarous (L Beuzelin)
3 Juniper Spirit (R Maia)
4 Gunmetal Grey (M Lerner)
5 Supreme Happiness (N Zyrul)
6 Lucky Jinning (I Saifudin)
Margins and time: 11/2, 1/2, 11/2, 73/4, 191/4 (1:01.19)
1 Churchill (B Woodworth)
2 Threeandfourpence (CC Wong)
3 Passport To Rome (M Kellady)
4 Hardcore (Maia)
5 Mo Almighty (Lerner)
6 Lim's Samurai
7 Gold Strike (V Duric)
Margins and time: Hd, 31/4, 63/4, hd, 3, 13/4 (1:00.58)
1 Leatherhead (S Noh)
2 Trading Post (Duric)
3 Simba (Wong)
4 Restrained (T Krisna)
5 Proof Perfect (Maia)
6 Foresto (R Iskandar)
7 Global Kid (Kellady)
8 Gold City (K A'Isisuhairi)
9 Molineux (WW Cheah)
Margins and time: Nk, hd, nk, 11/4, 3/4, ns, 1/2, 41/4 (1:00.18)
1 Sun Holiday (A'Isisuhairi)
3 California (Noh)
4 In All His Glory (Duric)
5 Eunos Ave Three (Nizar)
6 Mighty Emperor (Krisna)
7 Red Claw (Wong)
8 Destiny Child (Maia)
9 Lim's Torpedo
10 Avocado (JP van der Merwe)
Margins and time: 1, 1/2, 11/4, 13/4, 13/4, 31/2, hd, 63/4, 2 (1:00.82)
1 Flying Yellow (CK Ng)
2 Speed Racer (Merwe)
3 Mr Rockwell (A'Isisuhairi)
4 Kinabalu Warrior (Woodworth)
5 Forever Good (M Ewe)
6 Hello Michelle (Zyrul)
7 Unbridled Sweep (Maia)
8 Crown Delight (J See)
10 Bethlehem (T Rehaizat)
Margins and time: 11/2, ns, 1/2, 21/2, ns, 11/4, ns, 1/2, 4 (1:00.61)