Surpass Natural speed
Trainer Leticia Dragon says she will keep her rising star over Polytrack sprints
After three Group 3 efforts with a last-start fourth as the best result, prolific Polytrack performer Surpass Natural bounced back to the winning list in Sunday's $85,000 Class 2 sprint over 1,100m.
South African jockey Juan Paul van der Merwe kept the Leticia Dragon-trained four-year-old Australian-bred in touch with the early fliers, before releasing his $44 shot in the straight.
Elite Power (Ruan Maia) and Aramaayo (A'Isisuhairi Kasim) motored home late, but the bird had already flown.
Surpass Natural won by a neat length in 1min 04.33sec for his sixth success in nine starts.
After such a smashing return to form, Dragon could afford to aim high again. Her charge was seventh in the New Year Cup (1,200m), sixth in the Fortune Bowl (1,400m) and fourth in the Silver Bowl (1,400m), all Group 3 features.
Dragon is not averse to the idea of having another throw at the stumps in feature races, but will this time resist any temptation to let her charge out of his comfort zone.
"Like his name suggests, I think I will stick to what he is natural at - speed," said the former air stewardess. "I must say we may have found some answers to him.
"His first trial was disappointing, and my track rider TR Barnabas told me he might need a tongue tie.
"After not racing for quite a while, he just got a bit lazy. That sharpened him up at his second trial and TR really woke him up, too.
"Today, JP rode him really well. Before the race, I told JP to jump out and use his natural speed to settle second or third.
"He's the sort who goes better with the early pace in the race. I saw how the speed was playing out better on the outside in the earlier races, and I told JP to come off the fence if necessary."
Dragon reckoned the problem is there aren't many Polytrack 1,200m races for her horse.
"Progressively, I'd like him to go to Class 1, but I may also take a look at the Merlion Trophy for him," she said.
The $400,000 Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1,200m) on the Polytrack is on Aug 23.
Van der Merwe said he was glad he made amends on a horse he knew was far better than what he showed him in the New Year Cup.
"I rode this horse last time in the New Year Cup, and I didn't know him too well then," he said. "Today's race was a much better race for him. He was three or four wide, but all day, it's been better being out there than on the rails."