Sun Ops outshines Tuesday
Trainer Desmond Koh's horse defies a promotion and a longer trip for back-to-back success
Like trainer Daniel Meagher's Lim's Kosciuszko, trainer Desmond Koh's Sun Ops also made it two from two with another stellar performance at Kranji on Sunday.
While Lim's Kosciuszko graduated from Restricted Maiden to Novice, Sun Ops defied a promotion, from Class 4 to Class 3, to beat the $10 favourite Tuesday comfortably by 13/4 lengths.
It was over the Polytrack 1,100m in 1min 04.21sec, giving jockey Oscar Chavez his first winner since his return last week from a thumb injury which ruled him out for two months.
Sun Ops had led all the way on debut on Feb 27 to score by 21/2 lengths in 58.24sec with jockey Noh Senari astride.
Koh had some reservations with the Sun Bloodstock Racing-owned four-year-old going over an extra 100m second-up.
Granted his Australian record of two 900m wins, when known as Covert Ops, tends to back Koh up, but it has been proven to be much ado about nothing.
In fact, it was an even more dynamic victory.
Bustled up from Gate 2 by Chavez, the $12 second-favourite swiftly found the fence.
But he soon had to absorb unrelenting pressure coming from Tuesday and Ararat Lady for most of the backstraight.
At the top of the straight, the field fanned out, with Sun Ops still in command.
But, as he rolled out looking a touch wobbly, many thought he might be left a sitting duck, given they did not loaf around from the get-go.
At that point, Koh must have thought the pessimistic scenario he had painted would happen - the weary-legged speedball would fall into a heap inside the last 100m, if not before.
But the moment Chavez clicked Sun Ops up for another gear, he responded with an explosive burst to beat the labouring Tuesday.
Sun Ops' winning time was just 0.54sec outside the course record set by Tuesday on Jan 30.
"I guess I was a bit too cautious with Sun Ops, but I've learned in this game that it's better to be a realist," said Koh, who has been training in Singapore for 17 years after honing his craft in the US for six years.
"We knew Tuesday had the speed to keep up with him, but my horse took the pressure very well. He didn't fade away. If anything, he kept going away."
Though the 1,100m win adds a string to Sun Ops' bow, Koh is adamant short sprints are more his caper at this stage of his budding career.
"He's only a small horse, not really built like a sprinter. He's not all muscle, more light-framed but solid enough," he said.
"Today's win gives us more room to move him around, maybe even up to 1,200m. But if he's got no room, meaning to say there are no such races on the programme, we will stick to what I think he's still best at - 1,000m to 1,100m."
Koh, who also saddled Who Loves Bae to take the $20,000 Open Maiden event over the Poly 1,600m in Race 2 with Noh Senari astride, said Sun Bloodstock Stable's Cheng Ting Kong was very happy with Sun Ops' victory.
"I think Sun Ops is one of the best horses he's sent me," he said.
"I'm very grateful for his support, not just for Sun Ops but for all the other horses he has given me to train."