Water Rocket aiming high
Trainer Ricardo Le Grange says he's 'not scared to go with him for the Singapore Three-Year-Old Series'
Water Rocket is progressing well and has been earmarked for the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge Series.
Trainer Ricardo Le Grange revealed this after his gutsy brown Argentinian-bred scored a back-to-back victory in a thrilling three-way finish in Saturday's $75,000 Novice event over the Polytrack 1,200m.
Carrying the world-famous black-and-red maltese cross colours of former Singapore champion owner Fred Crabbia of Rocket Man fame, Water Rocket led and just lasted to beat Buuraq by a neck.
Third, a mere nose away, was Prime Time.
The winning time was 1min 12.33sec.
"I wouldn't be scared to go with him for the Three-Year-Old Series. You know, I think he's a horse in progress," said Le Grange.
The series kicks off with the $175,000 Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1,200m on June 3.
This is followed by the $400,000 Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic over 1,400m on July 4 and culminates in the $800,000 Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m on July 26.
"I've got a lot of time for this horse," said Le Grange.
"You know, he would deceive me, because he actually waits for horses to come and take them on. If you go back and look at his last win, Vlad heads Barend, and Barend sort of comes back at him.
"This is a sign of all immature horses and I think he won over 1,400m and he's come back to the Poly 1,200m, so he's very versatile."
At his previous success on Nov 10, the Barend Vorster-ridden Water Rocket was engaged in a battle royal with Qiji Diamond, who had champion jockey Vlad Duric aboard.
Showing guts and tenacity, Water Rocket won the war but only just - a nose.
That was in a Restricted Maiden event and Saturday's Novice race was pretty strong with smart debut winners Paletas and Moongate Star among the contenders.
French jockey Marc Lerner jumped Water Rocket out in a flash and scooted to the front by about two lengths.
But Red Roar kicked up gradually on his inside to poke his head in front at the 800m mark.
Paletas, the $16 favourite, and Moongate Star were about two lengths behind.
Buuraq and Prime Time were third-last and second-last respectively.
Lerner had Water Rocket in front again turning for home and kicked well clear.
Red Roar was gone. Paletas and Moongate Star tried to close the gap but found nothing extra.
Buuraq and Prime Time came from the clouds to challenge late very wide out. But Water Rocket held on resolutely for his second victory in seven starts.
Le Grange took his hat off to Lerner, who was about the only expatriate rider who did not have a holiday during the three-week racing break.
"First, I've got to thank Marc. You know, through the break when everybody was away, he put his hand up every morning and came and work a couple of horses, so this is a way of saying thank you to him," said the South African.
Lerner, who said he worked hard to open a few doors, reckoned he was having too cosy a run by himself after the brilliant jump. But it was "a good ride".
"I was a long time alone in front. I would have preferred to have some company but he won good," he said.
Water Rocket has taken his prize money to about $100,000 from two wins, a second, a third and a fourth from seven starts.