Forever Young's catch-me-if-you-can tactic pays off again
Trainer Kuah's Group 1 Singapore Guineas winner lands Group 2 Chairman's Trophy
When you leave a good horse travelling freely in front in the race, it's at your own peril.
This was proven again in yesterday's $300,000 Group 2 Chairman's Trophy over 1,800m when FOREVER YOUNG capitalised on the cheap sectionals to last it out even though it was his first trip beyond 1,600m.
Just two starts earlier on May 14, the Hong Kong-owned youngster sprang a surprise when he led all the way in the $500,000 Group 1 Singapore Guineas despite being his first attempt over 1,600m and gave first full-season trainer CT Kuah his first Group success.
Yesterday's victory was Forever Young's fourth in just eight starts, taking his prize money to just over the half-million mark for his owner, Wong Chi Tat.
After jumping well yesterday from barrier 6, Forever Young managed to secure a two-and-a-half-length headstart before jockey Benny Woodworth dropped anchor.
Moving to the mid-race, the three-year-old American-bred was about two lengths in front of joint $20 second favourite and Time Odyssey, one of trainer Ricardo Le Grange's five runners, and War Affair, who stayed glued to the inside run for the shortest route home.
A length behind came the Le-Grange-trained $15 favourite Quechua, followed by Blue Swede, co-second favourite Storm Troops and Absolute Miracle wide.
A gap away were the last trio - Well Done, Perfect P and Song To The Moon, who was the last to leave the stalls.
Woodworth straightened up well clear.
Jockey Barend Vorster brought Time Odyssey up to challenge, as did jockey Vlad Duric on Quechua. Absolute Miracle circled up the duo under Olivier Placais' urgings.
War Affair was on their inside and looked all wound up but was caught in a tight situation.
As the gap between the rail and Forever Young looked a bit narrow to go through, Kiwi jockey Craig Grylls angled out for a wider passage.
But the gap got clogged up when Quechua moved up to go after Forever Young after Time Odyssey back-pedalled. On the outside, Storm Troops and Well Done started to revv up.
Quechua got up to about a length of Forever Young at the 200m mark but the leader battled on bravely under Woodworth's vigorous riding.
Storm Troops, the Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes winner and another of Le Grange-trained runner, made a desperate bid in the final stages but Forever Young held him at bay by half a length.
Quechua finished third, a short head away and a similar margin ahead of the unlucky War Affair.
The winner, the youngest contender who received a 4.5kg weight pull from his older rivals, clocked 1min 48.43sec.
He paid $65 for a win.
Trainer Kuah was emotionally charged and literally speechless at the post-race interview.
"I never expected this moment, but it happened," said the Singaporean trainer.
"I always believed he could run up to 1,800m, probably next year can go for 2,000m. He's a good horse."
Woodworth reckoned the easy lead contributed significantly to Forever Young's second Group success.
"When I got the lead and slowed down the pace, nobody chased me. I reserved and reserved, until the top of the straight, and they were still chasing," he said.
"I could feel all the strong horses behind me, but they still wanted to chase me, maybe they thought my horse won't get the 1,800m trip.
The Malaysian jockey felt Forever Young could still go a bit further as long as he gets a soft lead.
"Definitely, I think this horse suits the run in front. He'll get over a longer trip if he coud get to be in front easily," said Woodworth.
"If it's a shorter trip, there'll be a lot of horses wanting to rush to the front and it won't help him."