Grand Koonta has eyes on Lion City Cup
Group 1 sprint runners show off on training track
Grand Koonta, the horse who will trot out wearing the No. 1 saddlecloth in the Lion City Cup on Saturday, looked to be the No. 1 galloper on the training track yesterday morning.
A winner of half a dozen races from a dozen starts, he had Vlad Duric in the saddle when running 60m in 38.6sec.
At 103 rating points, he is the highest-rated horse in the $300,000 sprint and, when all is done and dusted, he just might ignite wild celebrations in the James Peters' camp.
A six-year-old, Grand Koonta won his last start with the arrogance of a champion.
Sent over the 1,200m in a Kranji Stakes "A" race in early January, he came off his spot in the box seat to run down his rivals like a golfer sinking a one-foot putt.
The winning margin was a length. But Ruan Maia, who rode him that day, did not ask him to do anything more than necessary.
Always a threat in big sprints, Grand Koonta has banked in $388,000 for the China Horse Club and there is more to come.
On the other side of the spectrum, Duric also worked Sure Will Do for trainer Stephen Gray.
The four-year-old, who is regarded by many as a future Kranji sprint star, stopped the clock at 38.9sec in what appeared to be a smart gallop.
However, clockers at trackside were holding back on giving glowing comments on the gallopers.
This was because, for most of the morning, they were hampered by a mist which clouded parts of the track and the penetrating glare for the rising sun which blinded them.
Still, most were of the opinion that the lowest-rated galloper (72) in the line-up will not be overawed by the competition.
As for Duric, it will be interesting to see where he will plant his feet.
The champion jockey won last year's edition on Inferno. He also partnered Aramco to victory in 2019 which has him looking at a hat-trick of wins in this big race.
On the subject of hat-tricks, Kharisma already owns one.
He made it three on the bounce when winning a Kranji Stakes "A" race earlier this month.
Kharisma had Troy See doing the steering when running the trip in 38.2sec.
Kharisma got his hat-trick the hard way, winning a Class 4 race in February, defying promotion and thumping his Class 3 rivals in March, before having to beat some nippy sorts in that Kranji Stakes "A" race.
That day, when ridden by Wong Chin Chuen, he made every post a winning one, eventually beating Darc Bounty by almost two lengths.
An underrated galloper, Kharisma is the type who will figure at the finish in a big race like the Lion City Cup. Owned by Dago Stable, he is another one from Gray's yard.
Another one with two runners in the Cup is Ricardo Le Grange. He will be represented by Churchill and Rocket Star.
Churchill, who was partnered by Juan Paul van der Merwe, showed blinding speed, running the 600m in 35.5sec. Separately, Rocket Star clocked 37.5sec when ridden out by Wong.