Lim's Cruiser pick of Gray's trio in Raffles Cup
Sunday's $700,000 race good lead-up for November's Dester Singapore Gold Cup
One year ago this time, trainer Stephen Gray was in the midst of realising one of his career-defining moments at Kranji - win the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) with Lim's Cruiser and the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2,200m) with Bahana in the same weekend.
One year later, those two horses are not exactly in the same good place. The words "frustration", "unlucky" and "riding changes" keep popping up, not to mention injury for Bahana.
Gray, however, remained upbeat.
He has both horses running in the $700,000 Group 1 Raffles Cup (1,800m) this Sunday, along with Newlands and he is keen to see an improvement that would put them in good stead for the Holy Grail, the $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2,200m) on Nov 12.
Of the three, Lim's Cruiser is still his top pick to put his rivals to the sword - at least in the Raffles Cup, even if the son of Casino Prince's last win came in the country's premier sprint, the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) back in April.
The Lim's Stable star has been the greatest source of frustration as well, especially with his two fifth places in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1,400m) and the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1,600m) at his last two runs.
"Lim's Cruiser has been frustrating," said Gray. "He didn't get the luck he deserves at the barrier draws. It hasn't worked out, but he still ran very well.
"To me, he's the best sprinter here. We are drawing him out in distance and it's frustrating he has had no cover and had to get around horses.
"The Kranji Mile was a funny race. The first two (Forever Young and Laughing Gravy) had a soft lead in front, but the sectionals from the backmarkers were as good as them.
"It was very hard to win on a leader-bias track that day, but my bloke keeps running good. He loves the short distance, and just needs to find a length.
"There are five horses who are pretty good and he is in the top four. He's healthy and sound, keeps turning up, his grass gallop on Monday was really good, and he's done a really good job."
On the horse who gave him his most prestigious silverware in his 17 years at Kranji, Gray is confident the Indonesian-owned Bahana is peaking at the right time for the right occasion - a successful title defence.
"Bahana was a bit rusty the other day," said the New Zealander, in reference to his last start when first-up since his unplaced run in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) in June and beating one home in the Racing Guide Classic, a Kranji Stakes A race over 1,400m won by Poseidon.
"He probably can't win this Sunday, but it'll be a good lead-up to the Gold Cup.
"He had his chip removed and that's why it's taken a while for him to come right. He's moving well and going well now.
"The Gold Cup is in three weeks' time. He will get a couple of gallops, will be well handicapped and it will be a different ball game."
Gray holds a similar kind of opinion for Newlands, no doubt just a roughie in the Raffles Cup, but who should prove to be a different proposition in the Gold Cup.