Kharisma looks ahead

Trainer Gray ponders whether to go for the weight-for-age Group 1 Lion City Cup

It was a double promotion - from his last-start Class 3 win to Kranji Stakes A - and he has never won on the turf.

But it was worth a gamble. Five-time Polytrack winner Kharisma was in top form and had a luxurious 50.5kg handicap against a not-too-strong field.

The surprising part was the smart money came by the lorry loads in the last minute to make the Stephen Gray-trained up-and-coming four-year-old the $17 favourite.

Well, the Indonesian-owned galloper not only duly obliged with an all-the-way victory by 13/4 lengths, but he also ran the 1,200m trip on the long course in a swift 1min 08.98sec. It was only 0.83sec outside the record held by Spalato since 2014.

This has left Gray in a conundrum: Where to from here?

"I'm really not sure where he goes from here. But these are unusual times and we have to resort to unusual measures," said the New Zealander.

"A race like the Lion City Cup is coming up, but it's at weight-for-age. There are also the four-year-old races coming up, so we'll have to discuss with the owner, even if, usually, I would rather set him for handicap races."

The Group 1 Lion City Cup over 1,200m will be the year's first feature race on April 24.

Gray knew the turf was not a problem for his in-form charge and had to take the chance.

"He has not raced a lot on grass, because there were more Polytrack races then. There was no choice, but he ran good races on grass before, so I wasn't worried about that," he said.

"He's a happy horse, he's a winner. His syce Ragu looks after him very well - that's why he's doing so well. He wants to run.

"He's a genuine handicap horse and, with the light weight, I had a throw of the dice, as I thought the field was not as strong. He did very well, he also ran time."

Kharisma was ridden by former two-time top apprentice jockey Wong Chin Chuen, replacing Troy See, who could not make the weight. See, said Gray, will get the ride again, unless it is another low weight.