Expat Aussie, Masthead, is poised to chase Group glory in Singapore according to Michael Lee.
Highly-rated sprinter Masthead lived up to his skinny odds to record his second win from as many starts at Kranji on Friday night.
The Written Tycoon 3YO had already given a glimpse of his ability when he trounced his rivals at his debut race, a Graduation race over 1000m on 4 March. On the strength of that facile victory and his outstanding record in Australia where he ran second in the Group One Blue Diamond Stakes and fourth in the Group One Golden Slipper, it came as little surprise he was sent at unbackable odds of $5.3 (minimum dividends) at his next start in the $65,000 Graduation race over 1100m on Polytrack.
With six rivals seemingly not in the same calibre, many thought the win for the Michael Freedman-trained colt would be a foregone conclusion from a long way out.
The red-hot favourite duly obliged but the manner of the win was anything but an armchair ride for his jockey Joao Moreira. Masthead was not the best beginner and had to course out wide before he settled in a one-off position behind leader Super Jetset, who was setting a brisk pace to the race.
Swinging for home, Moreira readied up his mount for his challenge on the leader, but the latter proved harder to get past than envisaged.
But class prevailed in the end as Masthead knuckled down to the task under Moreira’s persuasion to fend off the two challengers and win rather comfortably.
Masthead, who had 55.5kg on his back, recorded the smart time of 1min 5.13 seconds, only 0.46 second outside the course record jointly held by Dictator and Speedy Cat. The win also gave Freedman his 200th winner since he sent out his first runners at Kranji back in 2008.
The Australian trainer, who had been weighing up the colt’s future options between the first leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge – the $200,000 Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint over 1200m on March 30 and the $200,000 Group 3 Kranji Sprint over 1200m on April 8, seemed to have found the answer he needed after the win.
“I spoke to Joao after the race and he told me the horse had a bit of freshness off him tonight,” said Freedman.
“It was only 12 days ago that he last ran. I normally don’t space my horses’ runs like that but that Graduation race fitted well into his program.
“The first leg of the 3YO series is in two weeks’ time while the Kranji Sprint gives him another week. I think he can only improve on tonight’s run and three weeks will do him a world of good.
“Whichever race it is, Joao told me he is definitely looking for a bit further and a 1200m race on turf will suit him very well.”