The 2017 Singapore Sprint Series gets under way with the running of the Merlion Trophy and the Poly Group 2 feature is always a keenly contested affair.
But while connections of THE GENERAL, WIMBLEDON and LINCOLN ROAD would be thinking they can take home the major prize, it may be a case of who runs second to the all-conquering Poly specialist, NOVA SWISS.
As a 3YO, he also gets in with 55kg and given the strength of his five straight wins in Singapore, that does look a luxury and punters will not miss him.
Olivier Placais takes over from regular rider Manny Nunes and the Frenchman will be looking to keep intact NOVA SWISS’ unbeaten run at Kranji with one eye on a Dubai run on the dirt if he is indeed up to WFA Group racing.
Those playing exotics have to consider THE GENERAL who gets the favours from gate 1 while WIMBLEDON is the top-rated horse in the race and will keep NOVA SWISS honest.
If it does get crazy early, GOOD NEWS and CAVALLO could be the swoopers at odds, but again, exotics does look best with NOVA SWISS the standout of the day.
Best Bets: (KNIGHT WAGER race 7, win), (NOVA SWISS race 9, win) and (RED CLAW race 10, value).
Bankers for Jackpots: Race 8 (1, 4, 5, 10, 12 and 13), race 9 (12), race 10 (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 13) and race 11 (1, 2 and 9).
Selections; 3 ROBIN HOOD – 4 CASING ROYAL – 1 GILT COMPLEX – 7 MIGHTY KENNY
A strong KSC over 1700m with multiple chances. ROBIN HOOD is improving and suited by this distance. He won in BM83 company last start over this trip and rises 6.5 kg for the effort but should be handy throughout. CASING ROYAL was run down late by ROBIN HOOD two starts back and could show up again. GILT COMPLEX is a tough stayer who resumed with a strong win in Class 3 over 1400m; this distance suits but he was unplaced at his only poly run – albeit early in his career. KATE’S KEEPER won in this company on turf last start, he is having a rare poly run but placed at his only start on the surface and should be running on. MIGHTY EMPEROR is racing consistently and suited by this class, surface and distance; he should be handy throughout. Of the others SUPER JOE and MONGOLIAN CHIEF enjoy this trip and surface, they are consistent types who can show up.
1 GILT COMPLEX *** Tough stayer who resumed with a strong win in Class 3 over 1400m. Distance suits but was unplaced at only poly run. Should be handy throughout and can show up for Michael Rodd. 5.50
2 ONE RAR * Has not shown up since resuming. Will find this more suitable but hasn’t won for two years and 18 starts. 33
3 ROBIN HOOD *** Improving and suited this distance. Won in BM83 company last start over this trip. Rises 6.5 kg but should be handy throughout. 5.00
4 CASING ROYAL *** Run down late by Robin Hood two starts back and could show up again. 8.00
5 KATE’S KEEPER *** Won in this company on turf last start. Having a rare poly run but placed at only start on the surface. Should be running on. 5.00
6 MIGHTY EMPEROR *** Racing consistently and suited this class, surface and distance. Should be handy throughout. 6.00
7 MIGHTY KENNY *** Won Class 4 last start and up in class, weight and distance. Recent trial was solid and could show up. 10
8 MUSCLE BEACH ** Battled in Class 3 on turf last start but better back on the Poly and can include in exotics. 16
9 SUPER JOE ** Has won four times at this trip and placed in this grade last start. Trial was solid and should be thereabouts. 10
10 MONGOLIAN CHIEF ** Won Class 4 over this trip three starts back and form has been consistent since. Should be running on. 12
11 CORDOBA * Won Class 5 three starts back and might need easier. 33
12 VIVA JOE STRUMMER * Maiden. Needs easier. 50
Selections; 2 THUNDER CAT – 3 SUPER BRILLIANT – 6 DESERT FOX – 5 CAVATINA
A KSD where a few class droppers will appreciate the easier company. THUNDER CAT drops in grade and is suited by this class and distance; with Olivier Placais to ride he should be handy throughout. CAVATINA gets blinkers and was close up in Class 4 here two starts back over this trip; he is well drawn and should be prominent. Blinkers come off DESERT FOX who has been racing soundly in Class 4 over this distance; he should be running on late. SUPER BRILLIANT placed over this trip in Class 4 two starts back and will find this easier and should be running on. SILENT ARROW drops in grade but his best form is on turf over longer; he could show up with Vlad Duric to ride. Of the others, most are looking to get into Class 5 though AUSPICIOUS ACE won his Maiden at debut but has battled on turf in Novice class subsequently; he may be better suited here from the good gate.
1 SILENT ARROW ** Drops in grade but best form is on turf over longer. Could show up with Duric to ride. 12
2 THUNDER CAT *** Drops in grade and suited this class and distance. Should be handy throughout. 4.00
3 SUPER BRILLIANT *** Placed over this trip in Class 4 two starts back. Will find this easier and should be running on. 6.00
4 AUSPICIOUS ACE ** Won Maiden at debut has battled on turf in Novice class subsequently. May be better suited here from the good gate. 10
5 CAVATINA *** Gets blinkers and was close up in Class 4 here two starts back over this trip. Well drawn and should be prominent. 4.00
6 DESERT FOX *** Blinkers off and has been racing soundly in Class 4 over this distance. Should be running on late. 6.00
7 RUM N RAISINS * Suited this grade. Hasn’t won for some time and best efforts are on turf over longer. 25
8 STIRLING ** Placed in this company four starts back and this surface and distance suit. Could show up. 12
9 UNCLE LUCKY * Won in Class 5 three starts back and looking to get back there. 25
10 LUCKY SIX * Won in Class 5 three starts back and looking to get back there. 25
11 THE MIGHTY THOR * Resuming after bleeding attack. Last win was over this trip but that was long ago. Needs Class 5. 33
12 GOLDEN MISSION * Resuming. Placed three starts back but hasn’t won for a long time. Could be running on late. 20
13 SMART FORTUNE * Only win was on turf. Ran on fairly last start but yet to place on poly in 3 outings. 50
14 DASH OF CLASS * Well back when resuming and hasn’t won for a long time. 50
Selections; 1 KNIGHT WAGER – 2 GRAND CROSS – 10 CAORUNN – 11 LIM’S DASHING
A strong Class 3 over 1200m. KNIGHT WAGER will find this easier than recent outings and he should be hard to hold off with Michael Rodd to ride. GRAND CROSS was fair when resuming but should be improved; he won in this class before a break and should be prominent throughout with Vlad Duric to ride. ELUSIVE EMPEROR rarely runs a bad race and his recent form is solid in BM67 company; he might like longer but can show up. The interesting runners at the potential improvers – CAORUNN who fought on well on poly when resuming, gets blinkers and can be prominent from the good gate – and LIM’S DASHING who is resuming after showing promise at his first preparation; this class is harder but he could show up fresh, watch the market.
1 KNIGHT WAGER *** Will find this easier than recent outings. Should be hard to hold off with Michael Rodd to ride. 3.50
2 GRAND CROSS *** Fair when resuming and should be improved. Won in this class before break and should be prominent throughout with Duric to ride. 4.50
3 LIGHTNING FAST * Excuses last start on turf after good effort when resuming. Better suited on poly. 16
4 AWESOME * Has struggled since resuming for new stable and better on poly. 33
5 ELUSIVE EMPEROR *** Rarely runs a bad race and recent form is solid in BM67 company. Might like longer but can show up. 8.00
6 ANONYMOUS ** Resumed well for new stable but only wins have been on poly over shorter. Could show up. 20
7 EATONS GOLD ** 8YO who may need easier and Poly to win but will be competitive. 25
8 FIGHTING WARRIOR * Resuming after change of stables. Trials have been moderate. Best form is over longer. Watch market. 25
9 ROSELLI ** Ran on well when resuming. Should be improved and could show up from the good gate. 12
10 CAORUNN *** Fought on well on poly when resuming. Smart 2YO from last year who gets blinkers and can be prominent from the good gate. 8.00
11 LIM’S DASHING *** Resuming. Showed promise at first preparation. This is harder but could show up fresh. Watch market. 8.00
12 SUPERNOVA * Won Class 4 two starts back but that was first win for a long time and only battled last outing. May need easier. 25
13 ALASAMO * Resuming. Wants longer. 33
14 SUPERSONICSURPRISE * Racing well since resuming but needs poly and shorter. 25
15 IRON MAN ** Argentinean who placed two starts back and might be value if he gets a start. 33
Selections; 1 ASPEN – 4 PUSONG PINOY – 10 DESTINY KNIGHT – 5 AEOLUS
Dead-set raffle! The only way to describe this Class 5 with most having a winning hope on best form and few that may improve on some poor recent form in Class 5 over the mile. And unfortunately it’s the first leg of the jackpot or quaddie for exotic players so good luck! Starting from the top, ASPEN can win. The 6YO has gone close at his last couple in Class 5 over 1400m with heavy support and can get a result over the mile although he will need luck from the wide gate. DESTINY KNIGHT showed the benefit of an experienced jockey when winning last start and can win again with Nunes retaining the ride while PUSONG PINOY will be in this a very long way from gate 3. The blanket goes over most others including AEOLUS, CHEETAH KING, MANMADHAN an the second emergency, DRAGON.
1 ASPEN *** Beaten as favourite at his last two over 1400m but gets his chance over the mile. Wide draw is some concern. 4.00
2 KEY ON KODIAC ** Maiden who ran on late last start and could figure if ridden handier. 20
3 MOON RIVER * Impossible on form but did show some improvement last start and appreciates drop to Class 5. 100
4 PUSONG PINOY *** In form and will play a very prominent role from gate 3. 6.00
5 AEOLUS *** Maiden who had plenty of excuses last start and pay to keep safe over suitable trip from gate 1. 12
6 EL DON ** Very disappointing last start and drawn badly but some hope on good maiden form prior. 12
7 DOMINY ** Maiden who is usually thereabouts and a must for exotics. 20
8 MARGAUX ** Resuming after two poor runs and pay to keep safe as for prior to those runs was good. 33
9 DARCI’S BOY * Maiden who has shown glimpses and may appreciate Class 5 but like to see some support on poor recent form. 33
10 DESTINY KNIGHT *** Switch to senior hoop made the difference last start and pay to follow with Nunes to stay on. 6.00
11 PERFECT CHALLENGER ** Tough horse to follow but goes good enough on his day to win this. 12
12 CHEETAH KING *** Supported when running on well over this trip last start and pay to follow. 8.00
13 MANMADHAN *** Another who showed the turf mile is his caper when placing last start and goes close in this. 12
14 AMISTAD ** Always a show in races like this and a must for exotics. 12
15 SUN DANCE ** Thereabouts at his last couple and can include in exotics at value. 20
16 DRAGON *** Placed at odds in similar affair last start and can win. 12
Selections; 12 NOVA SWISS – 7 THE GENERAL – 1 WIMBLEDON – 4 GOOD NEWS
All thing being equal, NOVA SWISS wins the Merlion. The race – both the track, trip and conditions – is perfect for this undefeated (in Singapore) star 3YO and it may be a case of how far. Interestingly, Manny Nunes has been replaced on more than one Nova horse by Olivier Placais but it would be losing the NOVA SWISSS mount that hurts the Brazilian most. It is a case of swing and roundabouts and Placais will be licking is lips at the prospect of riding an odds-on pop at Group level. Who runs second? It looks a raffle with WIMBLEDON deserving respect on rating points alone and THE GENERAL likely to be prominent throughout from gate 1. LINCOLN ROAD picks himself. The pace will be cracking early so keep a swooper or two in GOOD NEWS and even CAVALLO safe in exotics and blanket over most others.
1 WIMBLEDON ** In form but wide gate is a concern in this field. Finished fifth in this race last year. 12
2 DANIEL * Has a good Poly record but not sure if this trip is his caper. 50
3 MR SPIELBERG * Resuming after Gold Cup campaign and should find most of these too slick. 50
4 GOOD NEWS ** A win would surprise but will be doing best work late and a must for exotics. 12
5 INFANTRY ** Resuming with some nice trial under his belt but exotics best over this trip. 12
6 LINCOLN ROAD ** Tested at WFA conditions but too honest not to be in the mix. 12
7 THE GENERAL ** Very honest and should figure throughout from gate 1. 12
8 LASER STORM ** Knows how to win but tested at the WFA conditions and exotics look best. 20
9 CAVALLO ** Long time between wins but will be long odds and will work into exotic calculations late. 33
10 ROYAL RULER ** Wide gate makes this tough but trialling well and should keep a few honest. 20
11 FORTUNE WINNER ** Back in trip but has won recently over 1200m and just going too well not to be some hope at odds. 20
12 NOVA SWISS *** Star 3YO who is undefeated in Singapore and looks a monty with 55kg. 1.50
13 FAMOUS ARTIST * Did well stepping up in Class last start but needs handicap conditions. 33
14 NOVA WARRIOR * Recent trial OK but hard to have on race form. 100
Selections; 4 RED CLAW – 6 THE CAPITAL – 10 MONTAIGNE – 2 BOARD WALK
A crazy race for form analysts with a couple of newcomers up against a few Class droppers and a plethora of Class 4 horses ready to win. The two newcomers – RED CLAW and THE CAPITAL – both trial like they can win on debut with market support likely. Not much separates them on trial form but you would think RED CLAW is better suited over 1200m and THE CAPITAL should improve over longer. The two horses that come under notice dropping to Class 4 are AL GREEN and BOARD WALK while the like of CACTUS JACK, FLASH ONE, KEEN DRAGON, MONTAIGNE and LIM’S CASINO all win without surprising.
1 AL GREEN *** Wide gate a concern and having first start on the Poly but in form and drops significantly in Class. Can win with winkers off. 20
2 BOARD WALK *** Another Class dropper drawn wide but loves the Poly and most recent win was this Company. 11
3 CACTUS JACK *** Resuming and two wins have been this trip and track and should go close. 6.00
4 RED CLAW *** Former Aussie who looks well placed in Class 4 and can win off the back of a nice recent trial. 5.00
5 SURE WIN ** Too speedy to leave out completely but tested over 1200m. 33
6 THE CAPITAL *** Former UK galloper with staying form but trails like 1200m in this Company no problem. 6.00
7 MR SCORSESE ** Resuming after disappointing effort but pay to keep safe on best form. 20
8 FLASH ONE *** Late Mighty Man. Appreciates first up run and always a winning show on the Poly. 8.00
9 KEEN DRAGON *** Backed up close up placing with a nice win in similar affair to this and pay to keep following. 5.00
10 MONTAIGNE *** In the winning mix at two Singapore starts and hard to beat with luck from wide gate for 3kg claimer. 6.00
11 SECRET WIN * Former Kiwi who may need the run and more ground. 200
12 PRATT STREET ** First up run good and a better option again back on the Poly. Value. 20
13 LIM’S CASINO *** Lost in the protest room similar affair to this two starts back and pay to keep safe. 12
14 SILVER SPOON * Gets tongue-tie but easier to ignore. 100
Selections; 2 LIM’S BULLET – 9 CHAIRMAN – 1 IMPERIAL MARCH – 4 SMART LAD
Another race with depth and there should be plenty of good options for value punters. There are four last start winners in the field – LUCKY LINCOLN, LIM’S ARCHER, GOLDEN KINGDOM and LAKE HUKA – and all have to respected with LUCKY LINCOLN likely to race handy and he could look the winner late. But another four placed at their respective last starts including IMPERIAL MARCH, LIM’S BULLET and SMART LAD who all share top weight. All three can win with SMART LAD getting a handy 2kg claim and LIM’S BULLET getting the favours for D Beasley from gate 3. CHAIRMAN the other last start placegetter – and that was at his Singapore debut – so he also wins without surprising with the mile ideal. IKING and GOLDEN PENINSULA just two more that can win.
1 IMPERIAL MARCH *** Drawn the car park but just missed last start and wins without surprising. 8.00
2 LIM’S BULLET *** Ran on strongly over 1400m last start and could be hard to hold out late. 5.00
3 LUCKY LINCOLN *** Raced handy to win over 1400m last start and in this a very long way. 5.00
4 SMART LAD *** Resumed with excellent effort over 1200m on the Poly and hard to hold out over the mile on the turf. 16
5 IKING *** Honest and will win one of these soon at each-way value. 12
6 LIM’S ARCHER ** Won over 1200m last start but slight query over the mile so take on trust. 6.00
7 GOLDEN KINGDOM ** Backed up maiden win with a another win over 120m in KSD Company. This is tougher but in winning form. 12
8 STORM TROOPER ** Just fair last start similar affair but this type of race should be his caper. 33
9 CHAIRMAN *** Ran on well to place at Singapore debut and mile suits so keep safe. 10
10 JUSTICE GRACE ** Another former UK runner who showed enough at Singapore debut to follow over more ground. 20
11 LAKE HUKA ** Won a relatively weak Class 4 over 1400m last start and can follow although this is tougher. 10
12 POP GEMS * Improved effort last start but needs to back that effort up. 100
13 GOLDEN PENINSULA *** Always looks an each-way hope in this Company and the mile looks ideal. 12
14 DANGER ZONE * Hard to have on recent form. 100
15 DAVINCI ** Long time since last win but always looks some hope. 20
16 DELFYNE * Query at the trip and better on the Poly. 50