Senor Don overcomes wide barrier to score
The race strategy planned by trainer Ricardo Le Grange and jockey CC Wong pays off handsomely
It pays to do in-depth homework before the race.
The connections of Senor Don were well rewarded with a juicy $57 win payout by executing the right strategy in Saturday's main race - the $85,000 Class 2 event over the Polytrack 1,600m.
After drawing the second-widest barrier in the field of 12, trainer Ricardo Le Grange and jockey Wong Chin Chuen had to to devise a plan for the Chelsea Stable-owned, small-framed on-pace runner.
They decided to ride the horse positive. Wong had to decide where to be after the jump - the best to try and settle behind the speed and avoid being caught wide.
The horse had led in his previous start under apprentice jockey Krisna Thangamani from barrier 4 in a Class 3 race over the same track and distance.
The chestnut gelding ran out of steam close home to finish a two-length fourth behind Time Lord.
With luck and the lighter load (51kg to 56.5kg previously), everything panned out perfectly on Saturday.
After jostling for an early position behind pacesetters Vittoria Perfetta (Saifudin Ismail) and Super Dynasty (Danny Beasley) and momentarily getting trapped three wide down the backstraight, Wong was able to manoeuvre around to third place.
When the warring duo up front broke away, leaving Senor Don in a dream-stalking role, Le Grange and Wong were chuckling to themselves in disbelief - their well-concocted battle plan was falling into place.
As half-expected, Super Dynasty knocked up shortly after entering the home stretch.
Vittoria Perfetta gave his backers hope for a bit longer, but was left reeling when Senor Don went past him easily.
It was left to On Line (A'Isisuhairi Kasim) and the well-supported Sacred Croix (Jerlyn Seow) - the $31 second and $32 third favourites respectively - to stage a late rally.
But Le Grange's game galloper was already out of reach, holding On Line at bay by 1/2 length. Sacred Croix finished third, 3/4 lengths away.
The winning time was 1min 38.3sec, more than two seconds quicker than his only other Kranji win in a similar 1,600m event last November but under pouring rain.
"I had a good discussion with Ricardo about this horse, especially the wide draw," said Wong.
"Ricardo told me what to do - ride him positive. But we first see how he jumps. Then he told me to commit from there and try and settle behind the speed.
"It worked out just nice. The rhythm of the race was suitable, and he also loves this weather and type of ground.
"He kept finding and was the strongest at the finish. Thank you to Ricardo for preparing this horse to perfection for me."
Le Grange certainly deserves most of the credit, but that did not stop the gracious handler from returning the compliment to the former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey at the weigh-in.
"It was a super ride by CC from the wide draw. That's exactly how I wanted the horse to be ridden," said the South African.
"If he had dropped back after being caught wide, he would have lost the race. He did well to commit to pressing forward.
"This horse is so gutsy and honest as the day is long. It's great to train a winner for Mr Yong Mee Him of Chelsea Stable.
"I would also like to thank my track rider Ayie, who rides Senor Don every day. He's not an easy horse to ride."
Senor Don was the second leg of a double for Le Grange, who had earlier scored with the Filipino-owned Rocket Ryane in the $20,000 Maiden race over Poly 1,100m.
"It's just good to have a lovely day at the races," he said.
The double has taken Le Grange's season's tally to four winners.