Song To The Moon Derby bound
Trainer Ricardo Le Grange's rising stayer passes his stiffest stamina test
Rising stayer SONG TO THE MOON is now earmarked for the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby after passing his stiffest test with a last-gasp victory.
Long touted as a Derby hopeful even when he was only a budding talent, the four-year-old took a step closer towards that lofty goal when he showed he could mix it with the big boys in the $125,000 Open Handicap race over 2,000m.
The son of Savabeel looked to have his job cut out when he was shuffled back to last of the small seven-horse field after a stop-and-start affair.
The Desmond Koh-trained Order Of The Sun (Wong Chin Chuen) tried to stack up the speed after he landed in front, but quickened up again at the 800m mark when jockey Olivier Placais pushed wide on Perfect P to come eyeballing him.
As the tempo went resolutely up round the circle, Song To The Moon looked a little flat-footed with jockey Nooresh Juglall looking hard-pressed to spark him up.
But, once Song To The Moon got into the rhythm and with the winning post in his sights, the old instincts kicked in.
Up front, Perfect P's early move was shaping up as a winning move as he showed no intentions of letting up under Placais' relentless riding, while Time Odyssey (Glen Boss) could not really raise another gear.
But, on the outside, Song To The Moon was finishing like a freight-train, and though he proved a handful as he laid in badly under pressure, no doubt one of his Achilles heels, he got the job done.
Song To The Moon lunged to blouse stablemate Perfect P to win by the narrowest of margins. Time Odyssey finished half-a-length away in third to complete the trifecta for trainer Ricardo Le Grange.
The South African handler's fourth runner Quechua (Barend Vorster) who carried the steadier of 59kg and gave weight all round ran fifth, one-and-a-quarter lengths off the fourth-placed horse, Order Of The Sun.
The winning time was 2min 2.95sec on short course.
It was Song To The Moon's fourth win in his last five starts and fifth in 10. He has brought his prize money to over the $200,000 mark for Jubilant Racing 3 Stable.
Le Grange had every reason to smile with three of his four wards filling the first three spots, and he could not even knock the one who finished outside the podium.
"Song To The Moon has always shown stacks of ability and he showed it again tonight," said the first-year trainer.
"He's always been more of an on-the-pace runner but tonight, he showed he could come from off the pace as well.
"Nooresh was again at his very best on him. Olivier also showed initiative on Perfect P and it was another amazing ride.
"But take nothing away from the winner. He was taking on a better class of horses tonight and he has come through, and we will definitely set him for the Derby.
"I'm also very happy with Quechua's run as he was giving weight. It was a very brave run from him under the circumstances."
The Emirates Singapore Derby over 2,000m will be run on July 9.