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Big Sprint Now Wide Open

Gr1 Krisflyer International Sprint

Very Fast. Captain Obvious is Singapore's second highest-rated galloper

The shock late withdrawal of the brilliant speedster Rocket Man, has thrown Sunday’s Gr1 Krisflyer International Sprint at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore wide open.

The $1 million 1200m Gr1 KrisFlyer International Sprint is a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge and is the sister sprint race to Singapore’s jewel in the crown, the Singapore Airlines International Cup to be run over 2000m on the same card. The winner takes home a healthy $570 000 cheque, while stakes are paid all the way down to tenth finisher, who earns $10 000.

After winning his fourth Gr1 Lion City Cup in his last outing on 29 April, local hero Rocket Man looked to avenge his defeat by Krypton Factor in the 2012 Gr1 US$ 2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen. But in a shock announcement on Tuesday, he was withdrawn by trainer Patrick Shaw.

Rocket Man’s absence takes some lustre off the big race. He won the Krisflyer in 2011 and ran second in 2009 and 2010. Singapore’s champion sprinter was withdrawn by trainer Pat Shaw and owner Fred Crabbia after the six-year-old succumbed to a ligament strain to his near foreleg. Shaw and Crabbia wisely decided to err on the side of caution to avoid any permanent damage.

Singapore Turf Club veterinary surgeon Dr Curry Keoughan said Rocket Man had a swollen left front medial suspensory ligament.

Krypton Factor will now look to capitalise. The Golden Shaheen win marked a first thoroughbred success for the Kingdom Of Bahrain at the Dubai World Cup and Krypton Factor stopped the clock in 1:10:79, in the fastest renewal of the Dubai Golden Shaheen since its relocation to Meydan. Very impressive stuff!

The four year old has his regular pilot Kieren Fallon aboard again and trainer Fawzi Nass’ gelded son of Kyllachy, who has won eight of twenty career starts, looks a strong contender for top honours. A lot of use was made of Rocket Man in Dubai as he jumped keenly from his 1 gate and strode freely. He was caught late in the race by the shrewd Fallon, and Krypton Factor went on to win by 2,25 lengths. The win was still full of merit and he is obviously an outstanding sprinter and Fallon harbours aspirations of possibly riding him at Royal Ascot later this year.

With plentiful pace in abundance, this race could certainly turn into another cat-and-mouse tactical battle, with Krypton Factor a horse that is able to settle well and then kick late.

Captain Obvious is Singapore’s second highest rated horse behind Rocket Man. He hasn’t won since Dubai on 20 January this year when beating Hitchens over 1200m. He put in an excellent trial on Tuesday this week and could prove the dark horse in the race.

The rest of the nine-strong field include the likes of the seven year old grey English galloper Secret Asset, who may need the outing, having run only once this year.

Barend Vorster rides Rocket Man’s South African – bred stablemate Ato. He shows plenty of toe but doesn’t always finish his races and hasn’t won for close on a year.

Perfect Pins ran third in this race last year but has had soundness and bleeding issues. He ran a good second in fast time at his last start a month ago over 1100m, but should battle.

The seven year old Irish mare Invincible Ash is the only representative of the fairer sex in the race and won in Dubai over 1000m in early March. She could run a place.

A tough call in a race that should prove a spectacle and delight for anybody who loves the sport.

The Krisflyer Sprint is carded as the ninth race and is due off at 13h50.