Kantor’s Early 70th Birthday Gift

Lucky Friday 13th - and two weeks early

Trainer Ricardo Le Grange was repaid manifold for his decision to entrust hard-working apprentice jockey Krisna Thangamani with a first ride on Polytrack specialist Pennywise Kranji on Friday night.

Le Grange’s Malaysian apprentice does all the hard yards on the Argentinian-bred son of Pure Prize, but for some reason, never got a chance to partner him in a race.

Better late than never, as when that opportunity finally came his way in the SG$85,000 Class 2 race over 1000m at the six-time winner’s (all on Polytrack) 16th start, Krisna did not let it go begging.

Pennywise (Krisna Thangamani) strides home to take out the Class 2 race (Pic – Singapore Turf Club)

Le Grange could be heard from miles away screaming himself hoarse when the chestnut circled the 11-horse field to hit the front at the 200m.

It might not win the award of the most vigorously-ridden winner at Kranji, but Krisna’s spot-on poise and timing were to Le Grange more effective that brute force.

Despite cutting the breeze three to four wide, Pennywise ($35) stuck on gamely inside the last furlong with his rider coaxing him to the line at a balanced rhythm, along with a few well-synchronised smacks on the rump.

Trying to get rid of his bridesmaid tag for the fourth time in a row, Kiss Your Song (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) looked to have the cards falling his way this time. Even after burning the candle at both ends when he came whipping around the field to poke his head in front down the back, he was hanging on tenaciously at the business end, but again played second fiddle when the winning post came to him half-a-length too soon.

Fulife King was given every conceivable chance by jockey Juan Paul van der Merwe with a ground-saving run in the box-seat, but he came up short in third place another three-quarter length away. The winning time was 58.18 seconds for the 1000m on the Polytrack.

Usually the picture of coolness after a win, Le Grange could barely contain his happiness at the winner’s circle this time – and for two good reasons.

“I have to thank Bernard Kantor. It’s his big birthday in a couple of days (70 on 27 September), and he and Pat Shaw (Le Grange’s ex mentor for 16 years at Kranji before he took over him) are in Portugal celebrating with other friends,” said the South African handler.

Bernard Kantor

Bernard Kantor – happy owner

“I’m also very happy for Krisna. For two years he only rode trackwork on this horse and never got a chance to sit on him in a race. Tonight, he got the chance and he gave him a great ride. Yes, they were trapped wide, but Krisna kept him rolling and they were nice and strong to the line. Krisna rides this horse every morning in trackwork because he’s been a handful. He dropped Barend Vorster and Nooresh Juglall before, but Krisna gets along well with him and has done all the hard work on him.”

A modest Krisna, however, played down his role in the return of Pennywise to the winner’s enclosure. He last won three starts back with Michael Rodd up in a Class 3 race over 1100m on July 5, with Kiss Your Song again the runner-up.

“I’d like to thank the boss for giving me the opportunity to ride this horse for the first time tonight. I ride this horse every morning because he is crazy,” said Krisna.

“He had a bottom weight and he’s been working well in trackwork. I did nothing, it’s the horse who brought me to the winning post.

“At the 600m, he was still three wide, but he was travelling so well on the bit that I knew he would be a winning chance.”

Following that seventh Polytrack win, Pennywise has now taken his prizemoney level past the $330,000 mark for Kantor.

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