Sky Rocket fires first-up despite fast sectional
Trainer Stephen Gray's newbie gives jockey Glen Boss second leg of early double
On his sizzling pace from the word "go", many felt he would falter in the run home, more so for a debutant giving weight to some nice horses.
But trial winner Sky Rocket established himself as a good horse by kicking strongly to win in a fairly good time in Race 2 at Kranji yesterday, giving jockey Glen Boss an early double.
The three-time Melbourne Cup-winning rider had taken the opening race with another all-the-way ride aboard the Leslie Khoo-trained Kubera's Chief.
Although he had instructed Boss to lead on Sky Rocket and stack the field up, trainer Stephen Gray was biting his nails when his four-year-old New Zealand-bred went a bit too fast with 57.5kg on his back in the Initiation event over 1,200m on the Short Course E.
Furthermore, Sky Rocket had to fight for the lead with the Mark Walker-trained $192 outsider Black Quail before striding out ahead by about two lengths.
Black Quail closed in on straightening and got up to eyeball the $20 third-favourite in the final 300m, with Tesoro Privado ($24) looming up menacingly. The $18 joint-favourites Iffragal and The Odds also started their bids.
But, showing his star quality, Sky Rocket quickened again to beat Black Quail by half a length and clock 1min 10.23sec.
"He went 23.98sec for the first 400m and still had something in the tank," praised commentator Thomas Wood.
In fact, that fast sectional had Gray worried.
"He went quite hard early, didn't he? I was a bit concerned early. I thought there's a couple of nice horses I know would come late, but he's got natural speed and he's a lovely horse," said the Kiwi.
"I said to Glen to stack them up a bit but he kept going, didn't he?
"I thought he might have been a bit underdone but I said to Patrick Lau, the owner, you don't get many Initiations where you can run for $65,000, so you might as well run here and he would probably improve lengths on that run, too."
Boss, who told Gray not to give Sky Rocket another trial as the gelding would learn more from the race, was spot-on on his sectional time.
"He went through his first two quarters too quick, I felt I broke 24sec. He was going quick from the start, so he did a very good job to hang on to the line, because that was probably his best part of the race," said Boss.
"The last 50m, he actually got down at a nice gallop, so Steve has got a very nice horse in his barn."