Ghalib Proves He Is Invincible!

Kranji action on Saturday

Punters sent the Steven Burridge-trained Ghalib out as the red-hot favourite in the SG$100,000 Kranji Stakes A race run over 1100m on the Polytrack, and the four-year-old son of I Am Invincible did not disappoint on Saturday.

Ghalib (Manoel Nunes) makes a beeline for the winning post in the Kranji Stakes A (Pic – STC)

In fact those who took the short price could not have had an easier watch, with the race going to pre-race plans early, before Ghalib showed he is a sprinter of the highest order when demolishing the small field (seven after the scratching of Ejaz) late.

On jumping, jockey Manoel Nunes used barrier one to his advantage to have the favourite one back the rails behind expected leader Sky Eye (Carlos Henrique), who had Pacific Hero (Jerlyn Seow) for company.

Meanwhile, the only other horse that came in for any support, Pacific Emperor, had to settle midfield on the rails with jockey Ruan Maia having to push his mount along to stay in the hunt mid-race.

Nunes, knowing he was on the best horse in the race and was travelling ever so sweetly, made the early move on turning for home to have Ghalib in clear air three-wide into the straight, and the race looked theirs for the taking.

But when Nunes pressed the proverbial button at the 250m, not even Ghalib’s biggest fans could have imagined the gap he put on the field in a matter of strides.

The race was well and truly over at the furlong mark, more so given Pacific Emperor never fired a shot, and the only interest (apart from lining up to collect the winnings) was in the margin.

And while officially Ghalib won by four-and-a-half lengths over Sacred Gift (Rosman Iskandar), with The August (Bernardo Pinheiro) another length away in third, it could have been much, much more with Nunes sitting up on the rising star at 100m from home.

The winning time was 1min 04.28secs and Ghalib’s sixth win from just 10 starts in Singapore takes his prizemoney to over SG$250,000 for the Al-Arabiya Stable.

Not one to get carried away, Burridge was still very impressed by the manner in which Ghalib easily accounted for his rivals.

“He had things go his way,” said the understated Australian conditioner.

“Barrier one, small field, good weight. But yes, the way he won was exciting to watch.

“I think that was better than Ghalib’s last win but the way he has been going back at the stable, we expected that.

“In fact all the Al-Arabiya (Stable) horses have thrived since being at my stable and most still have improvement left in them.”

On where next for what looks like the best out-and-out sprinter in his stable, Burridge is not looking too far ahead but concedes that the Group 1 Lion City Cup is a goal.

“The way he won today, yeah, you would have to consider that race (Lion City Cup),” he continued.

“But that’s not until July (28), so we have to find some races for him before that.

“Let’s see how he pulls up and then we can look at the best options for him going forward.”

Nunes was succinct in his praise of Ghalib post-race.

“His turn of foot was very impressive,” said the five-time Singapore champion jockey.

“Steven has done a great job and again, I’m so happy for Burridge and Mansoor (Gandhi of the Al-Arabiya Stable) to have such a nice horse.”

Elsewhere on the card, fellow Brazilian jockeys Bernardo Pinheiro and Ruan Maia made winning returns to Kranji, with a treble and double respectively.

Pinheiro made his first meeting back from the UAE one to remember when winning on Last Samurai in the SG$50,000 Class 4 race over 1200m, War Warrior in the SG$30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race over 1200m and Super Baby in the SG$30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over 1400m.

The treble continued Pinheiro’s great run of winning form – albeit spaced over a six-month period – after his bold front-running ride on the Ricardo Le Grange-trained Hongkong Great, when upsetting Lim’s Kosciuszko in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) on 14 October.

Maia also enjoyed a good day with his double.

The two-time Macau champion jockey opened his account on Kinabalu Light in the SG$30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race over 1700m, before Pacific Spirit won at each-way odds in the SG$30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over 1700m.

Both Pinheiro and Maia are licensed to 5 October 2024, the last meeting before Kranji closes its doors with the running of the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m).

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