Racing

Maximus eyes New Year Cup

The shorter trip is not a problem for trainer Alwin Tan's Colonial Chief Stakes winner and versatile Polytracker

Sunday's Colonial Chief Stakes winner Maximus has been targeted for the $200,000 Group 3 New Year Cup over the Polytrack 1,200m at Kranji on Jan 1.

"At the moment, I would think the New Year Cup is for him next," said trainer Alwin Tan, who also captured the 2017 Colonial Chief Stakes with Nova Strike, who is now under the care of James Peters.

Although the New Year Cup distance is 400m shorter than the Colonial Chief Stakes, Tan is unfazed. He knows his charge is versatile and, most important of all, loves the Polytrack surface.

"I think it's perfect for him. He loves the Polytrack and he won eight times on it," said the 2016 Singapore champion trainer. "He can even fly home in a sprint, that surprised me."

In his first race after his disappointing Sept 9 run in the Group 1 Keeneland Korea Sprint over 1,200m in Seoul, Maximus resumed fit and fresh to charge home in a Kranji Stakes A race over the Poly 1,100m on Nov 9.

That victory sharpened Maximus further to win the Colonial Chief Stakes from Group 2 Chairman's Trophy winner and $14 favourite Circuit Land.

Maximus was ridden by the man who knows him best, champion apprentice jockey Troy See, who was aboard the horse's eight successes. Only Oscar Chavez had ridden Maximus before but the combination's best effort was a third placing in the US-bred gelding's debut on July 17, 2016.

"Big thanks to Alwin Tan and the owners for the Group 3 win on Maximus. It's a very nice way to wrap things up this season," said See.

After breaking smartly from barrier 1 to vie for the lead with Saraab on his outside, See allowed Maximus to sit in a handy spot behind resuming dual-Group winner Forever Young.

The Singapore Guineas and Chairman's Trophy winner then proceeded to stack up the speed, with Maximus not far astern in fourth place on the rails, and Circuit Land whipping around to sit on the outside of Maximus.

Forever Young still led upon straightening, but the swoopers were chiming in. Circuit Land was the first to race past, and for a fleeting moment, looked like giving his French jockey Olivier Placais a perfect farewell gift.

Momentarily crowded at the 350m mark, Maximus was in trouble, but burst through when the gap came up to go and upstage Circuit Land by half a length.

"Alwin's prepped the horse so well. Everytime he comes out, he puts on a show," said See.

"When I rode him in Korea, I knew it wasn't a very good performance, but that's because he didn't handle the track at all.

"It's like throwing someone into a boxing ring when he's just a karate kid, you know. It was a totally different ball game for him.

"On the Polytrack, he grows another leg but, on that kind of sand track, he just wouldn't stride out."

HORSE RACING